Journal 5

11 March-20 July 1847

Richard E. Bennett, "Journal 5: 11 March-20 July 1847," in The Journey West: The Mormon Pioneer Journals of Horace K. Whitney with Insights by Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, ed. Richard E. Bennett (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018), 181–304.

handwritten front page

Thursday the 11th

Warm, spring weather – Geo. Billings came down from the herd to-day – I went for father to Bro. Clayton’s, to see about a wagon that he and father are jointly getting repaired, to send with the pioneers – Bro. C. thinks of sending one man, viz: – Thomas Corbett – and father expects Orson and myself to go for him – that is, to go on and assist in putting in a Spring crop, till the ground, &c., that the families, when they come on, may have something to move to. – Porter intends going with the pioneers, also Luke Johnson, who came up to-day from below, 6 miles from the Point – Went by father’s request, and engaged a pair of boots of Bro. Washburn, to be made next week – Forgot to mention that, last evening I again went with father into the store to make a purchase of some articles –

Friday and Saturday, 12th and 13th

Fine days, but nothing worthy of notice occurred –

Sunday the 14th

Good weather – By father’s request, went and copied an important document, which took me the greater part of the day & night.[108]

The revelation on plural marriage was the “document” referred to, the bishop having the only one in existence, which he afterwards gave to President Young, retaining a copy.

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 4,
15 July 1885, pp. 30–31

Monday the 15th

Pleasant and warm – The pioneers and the 2d Division met this morning at the Council House – they met to arrange themselves in cos. of Tens, &c.

Tuesday the 16th

Fair weather – Busy preparing to go with the pioneers. Went by invitation with a number of the Band, to see a noted flute player, McRary, by name.[109] – He professes to be a Choctaw Indian. Geo. Billings come down from the Herd. he is also going with the pioneers. –

Wednesday the 17th

Beautiful weather. My boots were finished to-day – went also, and got a coat made, and done several things, preparatory to the journey. Bro. H. Egan returned today from the country. – Bro. Clayton, to-day, surrendered a quantity of church property into Father’s hands at the store. – Got several things to-day of father at the store. – Bro. Corbett laid in his supplies, and brought the wagon to father’s yard, that we might lay in, ours also – went to a meeting of the Band again, at James Clayton’s this evening – they met to make some arrangements about a concert to be held at the Council House to morrow evening.

Thursday the 18th

Fine day – nothing of importance to-day – the concert came off this evening at the Council House – I attended a short time, and left about 11 o’clock – not feeling very well, – Bro. Clayton in consequence of illness, also, did not attend – There is a disease, called by the folks here, the “black-leg,” [black-canker or scurvy] getting quite prevalent in the camp – It commences with a sharp pain in the ancles – swells, and finally, the leg gets almost black, and in many cases it proves fatal – There have a great many died, within the last month – It is caused, in a great measure, by the want of vegetable food – and having to eat salt food.[110]

He mentions the black scurvy, which had begun its work, and already many cases had proved fatal. It would commence with dark streaks and pains in the ends of the fingers or toes, which increased and spread till the limbs were inflamed and became almost black, causing such intense agony that death would be welcomed as a release from their suffering. It was caused by the want of vegetable food and living so long on salt meat without it.

It was now a year or more since the majority had left their homes and civilization behind, and our trail was marked by the lonely mounds of the dead, who had made a happy escape from the sufferings and want to which we were so many years subjected, through the wickedness and injustice of man.

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 4,
15 July 1885, pp. 30–31

Friday the 19th.

Fair day – Wrote for Bishop Miller, a document addressed to the President and Quorum of the Twelve, stating the advantages there would be in our taking a south-westerly course, in pursuit of a location for the Saints. – viz: – the mildness of the climate, the chance that we would have in raising cotton, corn, sugar-cane, &c. &c.–

Saturday the 20th

Beautiful weather, though somewhat windy – my rifle was fixed today, by Bro. Pettit but on examination, was not well done. – doing all we can, myself and Orson, to get ready to go with the Pioneers, as Monday next is named as the intended day for starting. –

Sunday the 21st.

This morning, a large number assembled at the Stand, at the sound of a bell, to hear Brigham give instruction, which was good. – Bro. Kimball called his private family together this evening, and blessed them, to the number of thirty-six – my wife and myself did not attend, not feeling well. An epistle from Heber C. Kimball was read to his family, containing advice to Wm. and Daniel, (who are to remain here,) concerning bringing up the different families and children under Bro. K’s. charge.

Monday the 22d.

On rising this morning, discovered that it had snowed considerably during the night. – A different arrangement was entered into by the Council to-day, pertaining to our removal west – it is now the intention to leave all the families here except those who can fit themselves out, for another season, and the pioneers go on to the mountains and put in a fall crop, and then some of them return for their families, so as to bring them up by the ensuing Spring.[111]

Tuesday the 23d.

Pleasant overhead, but muddy under-foot – my wife’s health quite poor, yet, – she is afflicted at present with a severe cough, having taken a hard cold – It was in contemplation, yesterday and to-day, having a public meeting at the Stand, but the weather having been so damp, it was given up – The new arrangements with regard to our removal, will probably protract our departure somewhat. –

Wednesday the 24th.

Tolerable fair weather – nothing of importance to-day – Brigham Bro. K., and father took a ride in their carriage, for the purpose of loaning some money to make up the deficit in the soldiers money, &c., &c.–

Thursday the 25th.

Good weather – Meeting held to day at the Stand – the Mill, which was commenced some time ago, is now about finished, or nearly so, so that they are about ready to grind wheat, corn, &c.–

Friday the 26th.

Every one, as usual, making ready to go with the Pioneers, though it is very uncertain when we shall start. –

Saturday the 27th.

Warm day, and sultry – J. Redding and myself went about 5 miles up the river on the other side hunting – got nothing except a prairie chicken, the weather being too fair to shoot geese, ducks. Luke Johnson came up again, to-day from below, on Brigham’s horse.

Sunday the 28th.

Quite windy, but still, a very warm day – Meeting held at the Stand, to-day – afflicted with a severe cold on my lungs, also, in my head – my wife tolerably well to-day – Bro. K’s. family, & father’s, all well and enjoying good health. –

Monday the 29th.

Fair weather – a number of the brethren that are going to remain behind, started for the “Old Fort,” ten miles above here, for the purpose of putting in a crop up there. – A number of families are also preparing to remove to that place – A concert was held this evening at the Council House by the Choctaw Indian. Wm. Chubby, alias McRary, who performed on the flute, saucepan, &c.–

villageHorn River Ferry. Lithograph by Piercy, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley. Utah State Historical Society.

riverModern Elkhorn River southwest of Norfolk, Nebraska, just upstream from the Cowboy Trail crossing near Broken Bridge Road. Photo looking northward (upstream). Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday the 30th.

Warm day – it is supposed, that we will start to-morrow or next day – Bro. Kimball has six waggons fitted out – ready loaded to start Bro. Corbett, Orson and myself flying round to-day, to get ready to start. – about ready to grind at the mill – The names of those going in Bro. K’s, wagons, are as follow: – Howard Egan, Heber P. Kimball – Wm. King, Cloward – Hosea Cushing, Robert Byard – George Billings, Edson Whipple – Philo Johnson, Carlos Murray – O. P. Rockwell, Jackson Redding. –

Wednesday the 31st.

Fine day – nothing of importance to-day. –

Thursday, Friday & Saturday, 1st, 2d, & 3d of April.

nothing doing except helping off the Pioneers – the boys commenced fencing, in front of the houses, to-day – Bro. Clayton has concluded not to send Bro. Corbett, consequently, Orson and myself have to “go it alone”. – It is the intention to start most of teams on Monday, who are to go up to the “Elk Horn” river, and there wait till all shall come up. – Brigham and Brother K. will not start on Monday, as there is to be a conference here to commence on Tuesday the 6th inst.

Sunday the 4th.

Fine day. – A meeting of part of father’s and Bro. K’s. families was called together at Sarah Ann’s room – Present – Heber C. Kimball, N. K. Whitney, Wm. Kimball, H. K. Whitney, O. K. Whitney – Vilate Kimball, Sister Noon, Sarah Ann, Helen M., Mary Kimball, and mother – eleven persons in all – We all clothed ourselves, except Orson and Helen – and father opened the meeting by prayer. We all then stood up in a ring, offered up the signs of the Priesthood, Bro. K. being mouth – after sitting some time, listening to good instruction from Bro. K. and father, we stood up again in a ring, father being mouth, and also offered up the signs of the Priesthood.[112] – Bro. K. expressed his feelings at length, about circumstances in his family – He said, “that he just felt,” (and he arose as he spoke and picked up a stick by the stove) “like knocking the brains out of a person who attempted to come into his family, and sow discord among them – that he was aware that persons, even in his own family, would arise and try to promote disunion, and strive to alienate their minds from him in his absence, but,” said he, “persons that do this, will be cursed, and go to hell, don’t you think so, Bro. Whitney?” father replied “yes.” – He further observed, “that there was not that person living in the world, in whom he placed more confidence, than he did in Bro. Whitney, and that there was no person living in the world, who would have so much influence in his (Bro. K’s.) absence, as Bro. Whitney – and he recommended him to them as a worthy, good, and exemplary man, to counsel them in his absence. He told his wife Vilate, that if any person should presume to come into his house and speak against him or any member of his family while he was gone, to arise and command them to leave the house in the name of Heber C. Kimball – Many other things were said, and much good instruction given by our fathers, and meeting was adjourned till evening, Bro. K. cautioned us not to mention the matters to any one, but to meet as silently as possible, Agreeably to adjournment, we met this evening, and conversed till about 9 o’clock – after we had clothed ourselves, we stood up in a ring, and offered up the signs of the Priesthood, Bro. K. being mouth – afterward, Bro. K. and father alternately blessed each member of his family, and the meeting dismissed bout 11 o’clock, after having enjoyed one of the happiest, (and apparently the brightest) periods in my existence. –

a man with a chairParley P. Pratt (1807–57), Mormon missionary, apostle, theologian, and trailblazer. Church History Library.

April the 4th, he mentions the calling together of a portion of his father’s and my father’s families—eleven persons in all—to a meeting for prayer, and also for instruction from father and Bishop Whitney. This was held in the room occupied by my husband’s sister, Sarah Ann, next door to mine, and being now convalescent I was able to attend.

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 7,
1 September 1885, pp. 53–54

Monday the 5th.

Rained considerably last night, accompanied by thunder and lightning – quite wet under feet this morning – cleared off fair this afternoon – first rain of the season – 4 of the 6 wagons belonging to Bro. K. started out this afternoon and went three miles, as far as the hay stacks – The number of boys who remain of Bro. K’s. family are as follow: – viz – Wm. Kimball, George Rhodes, James Smithies, Jacob Frazier, Peter Hansen, and Daniel Davis. – Father, Jacob Wetherbee and myself loaded my wagon this afternoon – meeting held again this evening, at Sarah Ann’s room – wife and myself did not attend – only those who were not there last evening.

Tuesday the 6th.

fair day – nothing of particular importance to-day – except the usual preparations for leaving. Conference held this forenoon at the Stand.[113]

Wednesday the 7th

Warm day – made the last grand packing arrangements to-day. –

Thursday the 8th.

Started with my wagon about 11 a.m., myself and Orson, and went three miles to the haystacks, where the rest of the boys were – Bro. and Sister Kimball went with us. Brigham and his camp were 3 or 4 miles from here ahead. – Porter came up on horseback, and informed us that P. P. Pratt had just arrived from England, & that John Taylor and O. Hyde were soon expected.[114] Left my wagon, and went back home to spend the night, in the carriage, with Bro. K., Sister K., Father, and Egan, leaving my wagon in charge of Orson and John. – Orson, soon however came back on horseback, and also spent the night.

Friday the 9th.

Fair weather for travelling – Before starting yesterday, Father Lott blessed Orson and myself, and give us many good promises, of health and safety – that we should return to our friends again, &c. &c., Bro. K. Father, Brigham and Dr. Richards started this morning, and went on in Bro. K’s. carriage – Orson drove the team, and I rode Bro. Brigham’s horse as far as his camp, where we arrived about noon – 7 miles from home – went on 3 miles further and camped by the side of a beautiful spring, having made 10 miles to day. – Orson on guard tonight

[Editor’s note: Helen, who did not go west in the vanguard company, had many harrowing experiences of her own back at Winter Quarters such as follows:]

My mother’s babe was a little over a month old when father left with the pioneers. A little black eyed, rosy cheeked girl, between twelve and thirteen, had been given to them a few days previous to father’s leaving, whom they adopted as their own. Her mother had died on the journey from Nauvoo, leaving a number of little children, that were taken by different families. They came from England, and the father was rather a worthless sort of man, and seemed to care very little for children.

The members of my mother’s household numbered fourteen, including herself. Three of them were young men who were adopted into father’s family—Peter Hanson, George Roads and Jacob Frazier, and three young women—Harriet Sanders, father’s wife, Jenette Murray, a cousin of mine, Mary Forsgreen, Lucy and myself and five little brothers made up her private family. Wm., her eldest, acted as guardian, and attended to the wants of the families under his charge. Brothers Daniel Davis and James Smithies were his assistants, and helped to raise gardens and provided the needfuls to sustain life. The younger boys attended to herding the cows, and they were occasionally nearly frightened out of their wits by Indians, who wanted to drive away their cows. One day my little brother Charley went out with them and had the misfortune to lose his only hat, and had to go without for a time, till he was so badly tanned that he was usually called the half breed, and when asked his name would invariably answer, “Charley half-a-breed.” He was only five years old, and supposed that to be his real name. His hair was very heavy and nearly black, and his skin was fair, but after becoming so thoroughly tanned, no one could believe him to have been otherwise than dark.

We had a varied and peculiar experience from the time that we were left, till the return of the pioneers. Things looked rather dark, and to all appearance there was no earthly source to which we could look. When one meal was eaten, how the next was to be obtained was something of a puzzle. But when things looked the darkest, and want seemed most imminent, some way or other we were provided for, and relief came sometimes in a way most marvelous. But to return:

As I have previously mentioned, the scurvy was raging in our midst, and a good many had already died in consequence. Only a very few potatoes could be obtained at that time of the year, and for what we did get we had to pay a high price. I, being among the poorly ones, was indulged in this luxury, and which I shall never forget, with the nice tea, which mother had purchased of Aunt Sabra Granger, it being superior black tea, that which Col. Kane had sent her.

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 10,
15 October 1885, p. 78

Saturday the 10th.

Fair day as usual. Father did not, at first intend going on with us, but finally concluded to go to the “Horn” by Brighams and Heber’s requests. – travelled about 15 miles to-day, and encamped on the prairie, near a ravine, where we could get water, about 6 miles from the “Horn”. –

Sunday the 11th.

Fair day – travelled on, and arrived at the “Horn” about 2 P. M., and crossed the river on a raft, drawn on the opposite side by cattle, with the assistance of ropes on either side – Bro. Bullock, Dr. Richard’s clerk, took down the number of wagons, as they crossed, which amounted to seventy-two – went about a mile, after crossing, down the stream, and encamped for the night – the wagons formed in a line, our horses being hitched to stakes, and fed on cotton-wood trees, besides their allowance of corn – Bro. K. told the brethren this morning, that he hoped that they would not go hunting or fishing, for if they did so, they should not be prospered, as this was a day set apart for the service of the Lord, not for trivial amusements. – stood on guard to night the last watch.

Monday the 12th.

Fair day – Brigham, Bro. K., father, Porter, Bro. Benson, O. Pratt G. A. Smith, Dr. Richards, and a number of others went back to Winter Quarters. – before starting, it was agreed by the council, that the remainder of us left behind, should travel on, about 12 miles to the Platte river, in order to get across an extensive bottom that intervened, lest it should rain, and make it bad going – accordingly, we travelled on and encamped on the banks of the Platte, the sun being about 2 hours high formed our wagons in a kind of semi-circle under Stephen Markham’s supervision, who has the cannon in charge[115] – Orson stood guard to-night the first watch. Bro. M. called the people together this evening and told them it was the wish of the “Twelve”, that some ones should go ahead and look out for a good track to follow – Father [James] Case, J. Redden, and two other men appointed to go, or volunteered. – Father thought of returning when the rest of the brethren do, in two or three days. – they want to have him go ahead with them to the mountains. – but his present business will hardly admit of that. – Little John came with him as far as the “Horn”, and went back with the rest of them to-day. –

Tuesday the 13th.

Fair weather – Busied myself in arranging my journal, which had got somewhat behind-hand. – Father Case, J. Redden, and the two others appointed, went out, returned and reported this evening that they had rode for 20 or 30 miles, and found a low marshy country, in general.

Wednesday the 14th.

Warm as usual – We are still lying here inactive, except the taking care of our horses & cattle, as the Twelve have not yet got back.

Thursday the 15th.

Still fair weather – the “Twelve” arrived this afternoon, having been gone 4 days – with them came Father, C. L. Whitney, Bro. [Jesse] Little , (who has just arrived from the east,) & Wm. Clayton, (who is going on with us,) – father and Lyman will return to-morrow, and we also intend to start on our journey. – Bro. Little brought several valuable presents, sent by him, from Colonel Kane to Brigham, Heber, Porter, Father John Smith , and some others – among other things, he sent a riding whip to Don C. Whitney , my little brother, – Father and Lyman brought Orson and myself 2 letters, (dated Saturday 10th, inst.) one being written to me by my wife, the other from mother, addressed to her two sons, Pioneers – Orson wrote a letter back this evening to Maria – and I one to my wife, which however, I did not finish this evening, but intend to early in the morning. –

Friday the 16th.

This day gloomy, windy, and cold – forgot to mention that Ellen Sanders came back with Bro. K. when he returned – about 8 o’clock the camp were called together and organized, 2 captains of 100’s, viz: – Stephen Markham and A. P. Rockwood were appointed, also 5 capts. of 50’s, and 14 captains of 10’s. – There are 143 men and boys on the list of the pioneer company; 3 women, and Lorenzo Young’s 2 children, 73 wagons – O. P. Rockwell has gone back to camp with Bro. J. C. Little – Bishop Whitney, Lyman Whitney, Wm. Kimball and J. B. Nobles return from here to Winter Quarters –

The following is a list of all the names of this pioneer company, viz: –

[Editor’s note: In the original journal, groups of names in the following list were combined together using brackets. For convenience, I have shown combinations by single-spacing the text.]

1st. Ten

1 Wilford Woodruff

2 John S. Fowler

3Jacob Burnham

4 Orson Pratt

5 Joseph Egbert

6 John M. Freeman

7 Marcus B. Thorpe

8 George A. Smith

9 George Wardle9

2nd Ten

10 Thomas Grover

11 Ezra T. Benson

12 Barnabas L. Adams

13 Roswell Stevens

14 Amasa Lyman

15 Sterling Driggs

16 Albert Carrington

17 Thomas Bullock

18 George Brown

19 Willard Richards

20 John C. Little11

3rd Ten

21 Phinehas H. Young

22 John Y. Green

23 Thomas Tanner

24 Brigham Young

25 Addison Everett

26 Truman O. Angel

27 Lorenzo Young

28 Bryant Stringam

29 Albert P. Rockwood

30 Joseph S. Scofield10

4th Ten

31 Luke Johnson

32 John Holman

33 Edmund Ellsworth

34 Alvarus Hanks

35 George R. Grant

36 Mellen Atwood

37 Samuel Fox

38 Tunis Rapplyee

39 Harvey Pierce

40 William Dykes

41 Jacob Weilar11

5th Ten

42 Stephen H. Goddard

43 Tarlton Lewis

44 Henry G. Sherwood

45 Zebedee Coltrin

46 Sylvester H. Earl

47 John Dixon

48 Samuel H. Marble

49 George Scholes

50 William Henry

51 William Empy10

6th. Ten

52 Charles Shumway

53 Andrew Shumway

53 Andrew Shumway

24 Thomas Woolsey

55 Chancey Loveland

56 Erastus Snow

57 James Craig

58 William Wordsworth

59 William Vance

60 Simeon Howd

61 Seeley Owen10

62 James Case

63 Artemas Johnson

64 William A. Smoot

65 Franklin B. Dewey

66 William Carter

67 Franklin G. Love

68 Burr Frost

69 Darius Ensign

70 Franklin B. Stewart

71 Monroe Frank

72 Eric Glines

73 Ozro Eastman12

74 Seth Taft

75 Horace Thornton

76 Stephen Kelsey

77 John S. Eldredge

78 Charles D. Barnham

79 Almon M. Williams

80 Rufus Allen

81 Robert T. Thomas

82 James W. Stuart

83 Elijah Newman

84 Levi N. Kendall

85 Francis Boggs

86 David Grant13

9th Ten

87 Heber C. Kimball

88 Howard Egan

89 Wililam A. King

90 Thomas Cloward

91 Hosea Cushing

92 Robert Byard

93 George Billings

94 Edson Whipple

95 Philo Johnson

96 Carlos Murray10

10th Ten

97 Appleton M. Harmon

98 William Clayton

99 Horace K. Whitney

100 Orson K. Whitney

101 Orin Porter Rockwell

102 Nathaniel Thomas Brown

103 Jackson Redden

104 John Pack

105 Francis M. Pomroy

106 Aaron Farr

107 Nathaniel Fairbanks11

11th Ten

108 John S. Higbee

109 John Wheeler

110 Solomon Chamberlain

111 Conrad Klineman

112 Joseph Rooker

113 Tery FitzGerald

114 John H. Tibbets

115 James Davenport

116 Henson Walker

117 Benjamin Rolfe10

12th. Ten

118 Norton Jacobs

119 Charles A. Harper

120 George Woodward

121 Stephen Markham

122 Lewis Barney

123 George Mills

124 Andrew Gibbons

125 Joseph Hancock

126 John W. Norton9

13th. Ten

127 Shadrach Roundy

128 Hans C. Hanson

129 Levi Jackman

130 Lyman Curtis

131 John Brown

132 Matthew Ivory

133 David Powell

134 Hark Lay Blacks

135 Oscar Crosby9

136 Joseph Matthews

137 Gillroid [Gilbard] Summe

138 John Gleason

139 Charles Burke

140 Alexander P. Chessley

141 Rodney Badger

142 Norman Taylor

143 Green Flake (Black)

8 Men in 14[th]. (Ten)

The names of the females in the camp are Ellen Sanders, Harriet Young, and Clarissa Young. – the names of the children are Sobiski Young & Perry Decker, making a total of 148 souls in the pioneer company –

The following are the names of the Captains of 50’s, as appointed at this organization, viz: Addison Everett, Tarleton Lewis, James Case, John Pack & Shadrach Roundy. – The Capts. of 10’s are as follows, viz: – Wilford Woodruff, Thomas Grover, Phinehas H. Young, Luke Johnson, Stephen H. Goddard, Charles Shumway, James Case, Seth Taft, Heber C. Kimball, Appleton M. Harmon, John S. Higbee, Norton Jacobs, Shadrach Roundy, Joseph Matthews. Stephen Markham was appointed captain of the Guard, and ordered to select out of the camp 50 men for guard, in whom he could place confidence, who are to be as a standing guard, to attend to the wagons each night, 12 of them to stand at a time, and to have 2 sets each night, that is, 12 each watch, to stand half the night. – In cases where the horses and cattle are tied at some distance from the wagons at night, an extra guard is to be detailed, – the standing guard not being permitted to leave the immediate neighborhood of the camp. – About 2 P. M. the camp started, proceeded about 3 miles and encamped in a line 600 yds from timber, where there is plenty of cotton-wood, and some rushes – The country in the vicinity of the “Elk-Horn,” is one of the most beautiful I ever saw – The bluffs on the east, are nicely rolling, and beautifully lined with timber, and some very nice cedar groves – The “Horn” is a beautiful stream, about 150 feet wide, and 4 deep, and some few fish are to be found therein.

The names of the women were: Harriet Young, Clarissa D. Young, and Ellen Sanders Kimball. Horace speaks of Brother J. C. Little, who was among the late arrivals, bringing some valuable presents from Colonel Kane to President B. Young, Father, Porter Rockwell, Father John Smith, and Aunt Sabra Granger, an old nurse in Father Whitney’s family, to whom he sent a box of black tea. He remembered a number more. Among them was Don C, my husband’s little brother, to whom he sent a complete and valuable set of fishing tackle, having seen him often during his (the Colonel’s) sickness at Cutler’s Park.

About 2 p.m. the camp started, and Father Whitney, J. C. Little, William Kimball, Joseph B. Nobles, Lyman Whitney, little John Whitney, and others returned to Winter Quarters, bringing the last mail from the Platte. We were glad to learn that they had gone on, thinking it would hasten their return home, besides their stopping so near made it seem much harder than as though they were traveling on. But we were not slow to improve the opportunities to correspond. Every messenger was the bearer of letters and tokens of affection while they remained there, for we did not know when we should have the chance again. How far they were going, or how long would be our separation, no one could tell. They were going beyond the trackless wastes of the Great American Desert—to what was then an almost unknown country, among the wild beasts and red men of the Rocky Mountains. Nor were they to turn back till they found some suitable spot where they could form a colony, and make homes that they thought would not be coveted nor encroached upon by their white brethren, who had so mercilessly driven them from their midst. The outlook was indeed a gloomy one, and needed all the faith and hope that could be mustered to sustain us under the circumstances, for death was sweeping away its victims, and want and suffering seemed to be staring us in the face, which required courage, and a mighty effort to obtain the requisite amount, to be able to bear up under it. That was among the saddest chapters in my history; and it made so vivid an impression that though years have elapsed, and erased many a scene of later date they have not been able to obliterate it from my memory, nor can I ever dwell upon it without weeping. But the Lord was very merciful, and it was only through His interposition that so many were spared to meet again in the flesh. For all we were brought into tight places, and many even to the point of death, there came deliverance when most needed. There was always a bright star of hope glimmering between the heavy clouds as they bore down upon us, till at last it seemed as though the very heavens were being opened to pour down a healing balm upon the wounded and disconsolate—proving that “Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal.”

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 8,
15 September 1885, pp. 57–58

Saturday the 17th.

Cold this morning – wind northwest – at 9 o’clock we started on our journey, wind blowing very high, which made it quite disagreeable; as it was a sandy road – we have travelled a little north of west, yester-day and to-day – went 7 miles and encamped near a beautiful grove of cotton-wood this evening a trader from the Pawnee village encamped near us – he had one wagon loaded with buffalo robes – at sunset the bugle sounded for the people to come together – Pres’t. Young said it was necessary to have a military organization before we left this place – It was moved and carried that the 2 divisions be formed in to one regiment under Colonel Markham – there was also 2 Majors appointed, viz: – John Pack and Shadrach Roundy – Bro. Tanner was appointed to the command of the Guard – each Capt. 10 to command his own 10, in case of an attack from the Indians – Bro. K. has taken Wm. Clayton into his mess – he writes his journal for him – Ellis Eames went back in consequence of sickness, as he said, but I think he is weak in the faith – Orson and Myself enjoy tolerably good health –

Sunday the 18th.

This morning high winds from the south, and very cold – To-day being set apart by the Lord for his people to rest, we do not intend to travel – 3 wagons loaded with furs passed this morning; also 4 or 5 pack-mules passed a short time afterward, going to the settlements – Bro. K. wrote a letter this morning to his wife by Ellis Eames. – It was so cold to-day, that it was thought wisdom not to call the brethren together to meeting – The “Twelve” retired into the woods to counsel together – about sunset Pres’t. Young called the captains together and gave them the following instruction: – “At 8 o’clock and 30 minutes, the bugle will sound, and all should retire to their wagons and bow before the Lord and offer up thanks to Him, before going to bed. And that all fires should be extinguished at that time – also, the bugle will sound at 5 in the morning, when all should arise and offer up their thanks to the Lord, and at 7 o’clock be ready to start, also at the same sound or signal of the bugle – all the spare hands should walk on the off side of their respective wagons, with their rifles loaded – The weather cold thro’ the day.

When the pioneers were twenty-five miles from the Elk Horn, they met some traders with wagons and pack mules, loaded with furs, on their way to the settlements, and Ellis Evans [Eames], who complained of ill health, returned with them, bringing some letters. One from father, dated Sunday, April 18th, stated that he, like the majority, was suffering from severe cold, and was worn out, having found no chance to rest, as yet, but they had no thought but to go ahead in the name of the Lord God of Israel.

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 11,
1 November 1885, p. 82

Monday the 19th.

Fair weather this morning, calm & pleasant – at 5 a.m., the bugle sounded for all to rise and pray – , and at 7 o’clock the camp was in motion, with orders to travel in two rows, or double file – We passed over a beautiful level prairie, in sight of the river Platte – our course to day is mostly in a western direction – We passed a number of beautiful lakes on our route, between us and the river – the brethren shot a number of ducks as we passed along – at 1 o’clock and 30 minutes we stopt to feed, near a bend in the River, after travelling 15 miles – while there, O. P. Rockwell, J. Redden, J. C. Little & Thomas Brown arrived from Winter Quarters, and brought a number of letters for some of the brethren, – among them were 1 for Orson and myself from mother, and 2 for me from my wife dated Saturday the 17th – at half past 2 we started on our journey and went 6 miles, and encamped in a circle, in order to have our horses and cattle, in the centre to secure them from the Indians, the guard being placed on the outside of the wagons – this evening quite cloudy – wind fresh from the south – Bro. John Higbee, and several others went down the river 2 miles with the boat and sein [sic] to seek a place to fish – after being absent 2 hours, returned – they only caught 2 fish of any account – Bro. Egan sat with me this evening in my wagon writing, Orson having gone out with the fishermen. –

riverModern photograph of the main channel of the Platte River. Courtesy of Kenneth R. Mays.

Tuesday the 20th.

Tolerably fair weather this morning – Blew very hard during last night – the wind in the south-west this morning – arose this morning as usual, at 5 o’clock, at the appointed signal started at 7 o’clock and 15 min. – and travelled along the Platte on pretty much the same kind of land, or extension bottom as we did yesterday, the soil being sandy – travelled in single file to-day – went 6 miles and crossed a small stream called “Shell Creek 1½ or 2 miles from its mouth – it runs S. E., and empties into the Platte River – went 4 miles further and stopt at noon to feed on the edge of a ravine or slough, where there was plenty of clear water – for ourselves and teams – Bro. Markham, John Higbee, Luke Johnson and others, went ahead of us this morning to seek a fishing-place, taking 4 wagons, (including the “Revenue Cutter,” by which name the leather boat is known in the camp [)] – Started about 1 P. M., travelled on, and encamped again on the banks of the Platte River, about 4 P. M., opposite an island, which abounded in cotton wood, of which we all cut a plentiful supply for our horses, to eat during the night; – having made about 18 miles to-day. – The River Platte is much larger than I had thought, varying from ½ to 1 mile in width but is not navigable, it being of but little depth[116] – Soon after our arrival here, this afternoon, the fishermen, who went ahead this morning, came into camp – they had been about a mile & a half above here, fishing in a lake of some extent, and had caught upwards of 200 fish, (mostly Carp,) which were distributed, this evening, among the brethren – Our course of travelling to-day, has been a little north of west – While on the route to-day, before we crossed “Shell Creek,” bridge a number of the brethren went to the right, about 1½ miles, to see a village or settlement of “prairie dogs,” When they returned, I saw Bro. J. Matthews pass my wagon with one attached to his saddle – Porter and others went also in pursuit of 3 deer to-day, but could not get near enough for a shot at them.

a sketch of Native Americans on horses

Wednesday the 21st.

Orson and myself arose punctually at the sound of the bugle, this morning at 5, and returned thanks to the Lord – the wind blowing strong from the east – rather cloudy, and has the appearance of rain – most of the ox teams started at 7 o’clock, – and some of the horse teams, soon after – We belong to Appleton Harmon’s company of 10, and are included in John Pack’s co. of 50 – Our wagon travels next to Bro. Pack’s – We started about 10 minutes before 8 o’clock – (some part of the times to-day, we travelled in single file, and some part in double file) after going 4 or 5 miles we met a “dozen or so” of the Loup Band of Pawnee Indians, and among them was their chief, whose name is “Sisketuk[117]he rode a mule; the rest were on foot. They came forward, and shook hands with us, as we passed. – Went about 2 miles further, when the tire to one of Bro. K’s wagons, came off, and our line of wagons halted, while it was being repaired, which occupied about 15 minutes – We then proceeded till we came parallel to the trading house of Mr. Sarpee, on the south side of the Loup Fork, (a stream which empties into the Platte about 6 miles below,) leaving it to our left about ½ mile. There is a temporary encampment of the Loup Band of Pawnees, near the trading house – we went on about a mile and stopt at 1 P. M., arranging our wagons in a semi-circle, fronting, and near to a slough, about ½ mile to the northward of the Loup Fork, having, as Father Case said, travelled 12 miles.[118] There was a guard placed on the outside of the wagons, to prevent the horses and cattle from getting out of the enclosure, as a large number of Indians, had come from over the river, and were lurking about the camp – Pres’t. Young distributed food among them, given by the brethren for that purpose; also, some salt, lead, &c.; notwithstanding, they considered that we had not given them enough. – Brother Shumway told them, (through an interpreter, a young Indian,) that we were not like the other “Pale Faces,” rich, but that we were poor, and had been driven from among other white people, because of our religion, and that we believed in the “Great Spirit” like unto themselves – he told them if we had more we would cheerfully give it. Cheffelan, the “Grand Pawnee” chief was there, also “Sisketuk,” the chief of the Loups – the former is quite an aged man, and to him were all the presents given by President Young, he being the main chief over the whole nation – they appeared to be fearful that we would kill or drive away their buffalo, as we passed through the country, though Bro. Shumway told them we would not – their chiefs brought a letter, from Mr. Sarpee, at the trading house, recommending them (the chiefs) as good men, and certifying to their good behavior to the white people – it was addressed to President Young. We all started again about half past 2 P. M., – soon after it commenced raining, and continued about 2 hours pretty hard – the wind did not blow very hard, till the rain ceased – towards evening it veered round to the north and it became quite cool – travelled 8 miles further and encamped on the banks of the “Loup Fork,” near the water’s edge, about 6 o’clock P. M. Soon after our arrival the brethren were called together by Colonel Markham, who stated that, in consequence of the Indians being dissatisfied with us, he wished to call out a guard of 50 men to guard the camp during the night – Pres’t. Young moved that 100 men should be called out, one half standing one half the night, and the other half, the other half the night, – Colonel Markham then called upon all those who would volunteer, to step out one side, which, was done, and they were soon arranged in companies of 10’s, with a captain of each – Orson and myself are to stand the latter part of the night, J Redden being my captain – It appears considerably like rain again to night, – the heavens black and lowering – 1 company of 100 was detailed for a picket guard.

a villageLoup Fork Ferry. Lithograph by Piercy, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley. Utah State Historical Society. Loup Fork was a tributary of the Platte River and served as a rendezvous place to assemble the wagons of Saints together before heading west.

Thursday the 22d.

Orson and myself arose at 1 a.m., and he went on the picquet guard I was stationed close to the camp. – Strong north east wind and quite cold. felt rather “dumpish” this morning, both of us – Brigham & Heber both stood guard the 1st part of the night – Started this morning at 10 minutes to 8, and travelled over the most interesting part of the country I have yet seen on the route – On our right, about ½ a mile distant was a gentle, and continued elevation of ground, while close to our left, the “Looking Glass” creek, (appropriately named, on account of the transparency of its waters,) flowed gracefully by. – It was at the mouth of this creek that we encamped last night – we went on 1½ miles, and forded it, tho’ the water came pretty near up to the wagon bed – travelled on without any particular incidents till we arrived about 12 M., at another stream, called “Beaver Creek,” where we formed our wagons in the usual manner, and we stopt to feed our horses & cattle – It is much warmer now than it was this morning, altho’ the wind is yet quite strong from the north-east – Beaver Creek runs about south from this place, tho’ I do not know how far it is to the mouth I referred to my usual authority, Father Case, who told me we had travelled about 10 miles this forenoon, about half past 2 P. M. we started again on our journey – before crossing Beaver Creek, we put a couple of blocks under our wagon bed, that the water might not run in – most of the other wagons did the same, as it is quite deep – there is a very steep descent on both sides, and after we had got over, we had to pull up the hill with a rope, besides the assistance of the horses, as it was very muddy as well as steep – we went on and travelled over a beautiful country till we arrived at the missionary station 6 miles below the village, which was deserted last fall by the Pawnees, in consequence of the Sioux making an irruption among them, and burning a great share of their buildings, in fact there are but few now standing, they spared the Missionaries house – we arrived here, about ¼ to 6 o’clock P. M., and found most every convenience for encamping, that heart could desire. We found a large quantity of corn-stalks, and quite a large haystack, from which we took a quantity for our cattle and horses – the Station is beautifully situated on a small eminence, bounded on the south by the Loup Fork, which is about 1 mile distant, and on the north, east and west, by a range of hills or bluffs, from the height of which a person can command a view of the whole adjoining country, up and down the river for miles – There is also a beautiful murmuring rivulet called Plum Creek which flows by on the north side of the station, between it and the bluffs, affording as good water for drinking as I ever have seen in the country – The white people, sent here by Government, have enclosed quite a large tract of land, with a good fence, which is now standing – they being obliged to leave, when the Indians did, Missionaries & all – from the appearance of things they left in a hurry, as there are various implements of husbandry scattered around, viz: – Ploughs, harrows, carts, hay-racks, &c.– We formed our wagons in two lines, each opposite the other – Amasa, Heber, J. Pack, Bro. Shumway, & Porter, preceded us to this place on horseback, to look out a location for the night. – We came about 7 miles this afternoon, having made 17 miles to-day – Our course to-day, has been very near west – The people were called together soon after our arrival, to hear some instruction from Pres’t. Young – He told them he did not want any of them to take any thing away from here, except what they brought with them, not a farthing’s worth, excepting fuel, feed for their horses & cattle, &c.– He then spoke about a guard being appointed tonight – he said there should, at the least calculation, be 20 men on watch at a time, (making 40 in both watches) – he also warned the brethren about putting all their horses and cattle into the yards, where they could be better guarded, than to be scattered indiscriminately, one in one place, and another in another – He further said that if we had an attack from Indians, it would be from the Sioux, not the Pawnees, for the latter knew that the former were in the country and were watching them – that the Sioux when they came to make an attack, always came down a little ravine that lies north-east of us[119] – he moreover told them it was necessary that the cannon should be got out, and that they should practice the gunnery or cannonading business a little, (that is, without firing) which those appointed to that business, did, for some time this evening. The farmer’s buildings where they lived are across the creek about ¼ a mile, – there the Sioux also burned a number of buildings, including a blacksmith shop – our wagon is nearly opposite the Missionaries’ building – near this place we shall probably ford the “Loup Fork,” and some of the brethren are going in the morning in search of a suitable fording place – It has been quite warm and sultry, the latter part of the day.

american indiansCharles Belder, Indian Tribe War Dance (n.d.). Wyoming State Archives.

Friday the 23d.

arose this morning at the usual hour. Brigham, Heber, W. Woodruff, Bro. Benson, Amasa Lyman, Luke Johnson, A. P. Rockwood, James Case, J. Redden, O. P. Rockwell, Joseph Matthews, and one or two others rode out this morning on horseback, in search of a suitable fording place on the Loup Fork – The rest of the brethren remain here in camp, except a picquet guard, who stand some distance up the ravine, spoken of above, as being the place through which the Sioux would most naturally come to make an attack – The weather remarkably warm and sultry – Orson and myself unloaded our wagon, and re-arranged the things therein, & filled our bed-tick with hay from the stack – Orson also made a seat of boards, which he found here, to put in the fore part of the wagon, to ride – The brethren in the camp mostly busy washing, repairing their wagons, &c.– The brethren who went out in search of a fording place, returned at half past 10, and the people were called together to learn the result. – The orders were, for every team to take 2 or 3 or 4 rails (in order to make a raft), into their wagons and instantly proceed on the journey – and for every 10 to travel together, horses and ox-teams – Pres’t. Young told the people if they wanted any iron, &c. to purchase it of father Case, as he had not been paid up by the Government for the services he had rendered them as a farmer, while he lived here – We started at ½ past 1 P. M., travelled about 2 miles, and crossed a small creek, name unknown, – soon after we descended a small bluff, and came on to the 1st shelf of the River bottoms – here, to our right on the hill, we saw the vestiges of an old Pawnee village, burned down by the Sioux, some 4 years ago – we travelled 2 miles further, and came to the place selected for the ford, or ferrying place – Bro. Tarleton Lewis had been sent ahead to dig down the bank to the river, and to make preparations for building the raft, – however, there was nothing done to-day-about the raft – I, with some others, assisted Bro. Pack, to take his wagon over, with part of his things, – this was done by means of a rope attached to the wagon tongue, and pulled him across, with the assistance of horses – Bro. W. Woodruff and O. Pratt also got across with their carriages with some difficulty, the bed of the river being quicksand, – one or two other wagons crossed also, I believe – the remainder of us went up the hill, a little distance beyond the ford – and encamped on the banks of the river, about ½ a mile east of the Pawnee village, which was also burned by the Sioux last fall, while the former were out hunting A meeting was held this evening, and Thomas Wolsey was appointed to see to the building of 2 rafts, one for each division, to-morrow morning – On either hand as we came along to day, we discovered places where there had been patches of corn raised by the Indians – made 4 miles to-day, travelling a little south of west – a number of the brethren bought wagon tin, and other iron in different shapes of Father Case, some of which they found at the blacksmith shop, and some concealed under ground by the whites, that the Indians might not find it – do not feel very well to-night, in consequences of having waded so much in the water this afternoon to help people over – there is a very strong current, here, and in fact, almost irresistible. –

mapMap of 1847 vanguard company. Courtesy of Plewe, Mapping Mormonism, 80–81.

Saturday the 24th.

Very warm day, and but little air stirring – The brethren commenced crossing the river this forenoon, in different ways, some putting their effects in the leather boats, and taking their empty wagons over the river with their horses and cattle attached – The horses and cattle were driven back and forth loose in order to establish a firm track, as it was discovered that the sand packed together and formed a more substantial foundation by travelling frequently over it. Stakes were planted at intervals across the stream as a guide for the crossing – Before going over, Orson & Myself went and took a view of the ruins of the Pawnee village which was an interesting sight, indeed, and gave me singular feelings. – The village is situated on the northern bank of and immediately fronting the river – it is irregularly formed, or laid out, is 1¼ a mile in extent and comprises upwards of 200 lodges, a great share of which have been burnt down by the Sioux, as already mentioned above – We visited 2 or 3 of those which were standing, and were much struck with the ingenuity manifested in their formation – The largest one that we visited is about 45 feet in diameter – Around the inside are 16 posts, which uphold the fabric, also 8 large ones in the center, and a man can stand upright in any part of the room – across the roof are laid transversely, cotton-wood, or willow poles, all verging towards the center – to these straw is bound with withes, and on the top of this layer of dirt a hole being left in the center of the roof through which the smoke can escape, and the fire being in the center of the lodge, perpendicular with it – around the inside the circle is a bench, formed by digging about 2 feet into the ground, and is about 2 feet in diameter. There the braves are accustomed to sit during their councils or deliberations, with their faces all turned towards the center – Immediately opposite the entrance is a seat, large enough to contain one man connected with, and projecting from the said bench – this is the seat of the chief, and leaves him in advance of his warriors. also about 2 feet – The entrance to the lodge is from 8 to 10 feet in length, and wide enough to admit 4 men abreast – The village is fortified partially, there being an embankment thrown up of about 4 feet in height, on two sides, with a ditch on the outside of that – During our visit, we discovered a number of relics portraying the manners and customs of the Indians, among which was a number of buffalo skulls, on the heads of each of which were drawn 3 or 4 lines, perpendicular done with a kind of red paint, besides other devices of different kinds – We also noticed a large number of holes, some of which were open – they were about 10 feet in depth & are used for storing away provisions, &c. These are called “Cachets” The orifice is about 2 feet across, and at the bottom, the concave is 15 feet in diameter. In there we saw vast quantities of corn which they had here stowed away, for future use. Back of the village about a mile in the bluff, is quite a large graveyard, which, however, I did not visit for want of time – We elevated our load by putting 3 or 4 rails lengthwise across the box, and putting our loading on the top thereof – we crossed the river with out accident, and reached the opposite shore, about ½ past 1 P. M. Aaron Farr assisting us over by putting his horses forward of ours, and we doing the same by him – All the camp got over by about 2 o’clock – all the rest of the wagons went on, Aaron Farr and ourselves remained on the shore, to rearrange our loads, and allow the bottom of our wagon box to dry, before we reloaded. We then went on west about 4 miles up the “Loup Fork” & found the brethren encamped on the banks thereof in a line, and fronting a small pond, about ¼ of a mile from timber – We got here sun about ½ hour high – This morning one of President Young’s horses was discovered to have been choked to death during the last night, in consequence of having been hitched to a stake near a deep pit – into which he fell, and was unable to extricate himself –


Sunday the 25th.

Fair weather; the wind blowing from the west tolerably fresh – Spent the day chiefly in watching my horses, which I turned out this morning to graze, the feed being very good here, as grass has taken a fresh start since the last rain – meeting held about 6 P. M. near Brigham’s wagon – did not attend, A. Farr and myself being out on the prairie watching the horses – Some arrangements were made about the guard they being enjoined to watch closely the horses and cattle that they do not break loose – It was also suggested by Pres’t. Young, that each 10 form a mess of itself, and eat together, thereby saving a great deal of food, that would otherwise be wasted. Another meeting was called this evening, in order to make choice of hunters to hunt buffaloes, &c., when we should arrive where there was game – There were 7 horsemen chosen, also 9 footmen, exclusive of 8 of the “Twelve”, who were also allowed the privilege of hunting, when they saw proper – Thomas Wolsey was appointed captain, he having had considerable experience in hunting buffalo This morning a number of the brethren discovered through a spy-glass, on the opposite side the river what had the appearance of 3 white antelopes grazing – an extra guard was detailed to night, to watch in the place of the regular guard, in order to give them time to rest, as every man of them has had to stand guard every other night – the watch consisted of 12 men to-night, 6 being on at a time – Orson stood the 1st watch, together with 5 others, including J. Redding, who was captain or foreman of the 1st watch. –

Monday the 26th.

This morning was awakened at daybreak by the bugle sounding an alarm for the people to gather together – it appears that 2 of the guard surprised 2 Indians in the act of coming into the camp – they were crawling stealthily along on their hands and knees, when they fired at them; immediately 4 men, making 6 in all jumped to their feet and run as fast as they could for the timber – after sunrise, the impressions of several moccasin tracks were plainly to be seen in the sand on the shore of the river – The men were all rallied, and a guard kept up till daylight – Bro. Wolsey, and others, from the shape of the track, judged it to have been caused by the moccasin of a Sioux. Fine breeze from the west, this morning – Just after sunrise, the bugle again sounded, for every 10 to meet again together in a family capacity, and have prayers – Bro. J. Pack officiated for our 10 this morning – Started this morning at 8 o’clock, travelling over a flat, and rather wet bottom for about 3 miles, when we ascended a gentle hill, which brought us on to the 2d shelf, (or table, as it is sometimes called,) of the river bottoms The land is much dryer, than on the shelf below, – we went 8 miles, and stopt to feed and water about ¼ to 12 M., near a pond of water, ½ a mile from the river – nearly opposite to us, on the other side, we discovered the traces of what had once been an Indian village, apparently, having been deserted some time since – near the site of the village were some objects which had the appearance of being graves – started again at ½ past 1 P. M., travelled about 6 miles over a beautiful rolling prairie, without the occurrence of any particular incident, and encamped, sun about an hour high, in a semi-circle on the banks of a small stream, called Grand fork on the open prairie, their being no timber in sight, except a few willows standing on the bank of the stream, which we used for fuel – Our course to-day has been a little south of west – we are about 1½ miles from the river, and have made about 14 miles to-day – about sunset, 2 horses, belonging to Dr. Richards & J. C. Little, were discovered to have strayed away from the camp, and notwithstanding 10 or 12 men went out in pursuit, & were gone till 11 o’clock at night, they could not be found. Among those who went, were Brigham, Heber, Amasa Ezra T. Benson, O. P. Rockwell, Joseph Matthews, & 5 or 6 others – Porter & others, discovered some signs of buffalo to-day.

Tuesday the 27th.

Warm, south wind this morning – at 8 o’clock a.m., we again commenced our journey – Before starting, this morning, O. P. Rockwell, Thomas Brown, Joseph Matthews, & John Eldridge, again went out in pursuit of the lost horses – we travelled for some distance over a prairie, covered with dry grass, but at length emerged on to ground which had been burned over, and was covered with green grass, affording quite a contrast to that left behind – went about 12 miles, and stopt at 2 P. M., on the prairie, in a kind of hollow or flat bottom, surround by a gentle rise of ground – there was no water here, but the brethren dug 2 or 3 holes in the ground, which, however, did not furnish but very little for our horses & cattle – there was no timber in sight. The camp was again in motion about ½ past 3 P. M., Just as we started, John Brown, one of the appointed hunters, killed an antelope – travelled 4 miles & encamped, at ½ past 5 P. M., in a semi-circle, on the banks of a small stream, called by Brigham Patience creek, which supplied us with clear and pure water, though there was no timber of any kind; notwithstanding, we managed to cook enough for supper, by a small fire which we made from a little underbrush which we found in the vicinity – Brother Wolsey has been out hunting to-day, and saw 8 deer some distance from him, but did not go in pursuit, fearing that the Indians might cut off his retreat to the camp – Just before we arrived here, Brigham, Amasa, Col. Markham, and 1 or 2 others, rode back to hurry up the ox-teams – Just after we encamped, we had quite a gale of wind, accompanied by thunder and lightning, and some little rain, which however, did not last long – Our course to-day, (according to Professor Pratt,) has been a little east of south, having travelled about 16 miles – This evening, a horse belonging to Col. Markham, was shot by the accidental discharge of a gun – the circumstance was this: One of the brethren, John Brown, went into the wagon to get his coat, (not knowing that the gun was there,) and while pulling it out it caught the lock of the gun and went off, passing though the wagon cover the bullet took effect in the foreleg of the horse, breaking the bone literally to pieces, and rendering him entirely unfit for future use – this is the 4th horse that has been lost & killed since Saturday last – Bro. [Lewis] Barney narrowly escaped being shot at the same time, the ball passing within one foot of him, as he was going between the wagons – O. P. Rockwell, Thomas Brown, Joseph Matthews, and John Eldridge returned this evening – they had been back, within 1½ miles of the place where we encamped on Sunday, last – here, as they were riding along, they discovered something crawling along in the grass at a distance, – supposing it was a wolf, Porter was about to elevate his piece at it, when the Indian, (for such it was,) arose to his feet, with a number of others, making 15 in all – who had been hiding in the grass – they manifested an intention to take their horses, pretending to wish to shake hands, asking for tobacco, &c.– but the “boys”, when they showed too much familiarity, kept them at a respectful distance, telling them to “Pukachee”, &c.– One of them came up to Bro. Matthews, and put out one hand to shake hands with him, while in the other he held a little behind him, a bow & arrow already strung for use – Thomas Brown, noticing this, and also that he kept his eye on the bridle bit of the horse, rode up to him, and in a very stern manner, told him “to leave”, which he did, going off a little distance – The Indians, seeing their determination of character, did not offer to molest them, till they had got some distance, when they fired 6 shots at them, which happily took no effect, altho’ “the bullets”, as Bro. Matthews said, “whistled pretty close around their heads” – They convinced themselves that these Indians had the horses of which they were in pursuit, as they found the place whence the horses had been taken; from the fact that they could see the tracks, and also the trace of a rope drawn over the ground, that was attached to the neck of one of the horses – as they fired at them they continued to retreat, gradually towards a dense thicket, and here, in the opinion of the boys, were the horses concealed. They recognized two or three of the Indians, as being among those whom we saw when we stopt at noon on Wednesday last near Sarpee’s trading house, thus leaving no doubt but that they were Pawnees, & not Sioux – The sky to-night, cloudless and serene notwithstanding the threatening appearance of the weather at sunset.

Wednesday the 28th.

Cool, north, wind, and somewhat cloudy, this morning – we did not start as early as usual, this morning, some of the teams being pretty well tired out from yesterday’s travel – We crossed the creek on which we encamped about 9 o’clock, after first digging down the banks, and after waiting 1 hour for the remainder of the teams to cross, we started on our journey at 10 a.m., travelled nearly in a S. direction about 11 miles, and stopt to feed about ¼ past 2 P. M., about 100 yards from the Main Branch of the Platte River – opposite is an island, beyond which flows the Main channel – about the time we started this morning, Brigham, Heber, W. Woodruff, Amasa, & O. P. Rockwell, Thomas Brown Joseph Matthews, Thomas Wolsey, John Higbee, Phineas Young, & Roswell Stevens, (hunters,) went ahead on horseback – at half past 3 P. M., the camp was again in motion – travelled 4 miles further, & reached our place of encampment for the night, at 6 P. M., – We did not encamp immediately, having to wait for the ox-teams to come up, which were a mile or two back. J. Brown shot a wolf to day – the only game killed, opposite our camping ground to-night, also, is an island, the main channel flowing beyond, a small part of the stream running this side, as it was where we stopt this noon – the island is well timbered with cotton wood, and about 100 yds in front of us – after a while the ox teams came up, and we all formed our wagons in a circle, about ½ past 6 P. M., having made 15 miles to-day. – Our course this afternoon has been near west. – The last 2 or 3 days, as we passed along, we have discovered numerous buffalo skulls lying on the prairie – Just as we arrived this evening, the staple in the center of our neck-yoke broke in two, there being a flaw in the iron – Bro. J. Higbee discovered the skull of a man in a partially decayed condition about a ½ a mile back – stood on guard to-night the last watch, from 12 o’clock till daylight.

Thursday the 29th.

This morning the sun rose bright & clear – Started this morning at sunrise, before breakfast, without feeding our horses & cattle, in order to get ahead a short distance, where the grass is more luxuriant – went 2½ miles, and stopt at ½ past 6 in the road, without forming into any particular order – here we got breakfast, having taken wood along for that purpose; also, baited our horses, &c. The place is about ½ a mile from the river – saw an antelope, as we started this morning – at 10 minutes past 8, were again in motion – travelled 3 or 4 miles & crossed a stream called “Wood Creek” – travelled on over a prairie covered with dry grass, and stopt at 1 P. M. to feed, near a pond of water, ½ a mile from the river, having come 10 miles – here we again found green grass for our teams – Started again at 3 P. M., and travelled alternately over green and dry grass, (the road being very dusty, and a strong wind from the south which made it very disagreeable – went about 8 miles and encamped at sunset near the River, in a circle opposite Grand Island. This island we saw yesterday for the first time, when we stopt at noon to feed – It is said to be 75 or 80 miles in length – as near as we could judge we travelled near a south-west course to-day – Fresh buffalo tracks were discovered a little way back of here by some of the hunters. There are plenty of rushes here in the timber – made 18 miles to-day – This evening quite cool, the wind being in the north – rather cloudy, and misty overhead. –

Friday the 30th.

Clear & cold, the wind being in the north – The wagons in our 10 started at 20 minutes to 8 a.m. – went a short distance, and waited ¾ of an hour until the remainder of the teams got under weigh. Travelled over rather an uneven prairie a little south of west, and stopt at 12 M., on the banks of a clear and beautiful stream, with a gravel bottom, ½ a mile from the river – Some few deer were seen by the hunters, to-day. The grass here is of the highest and most luxuriant growth, we have yet seen – There have been 3 fresh buffalo tracks seen to-day by the hunters. – a number of them are out in pursuit of game – travelled rather slowly this forenoon, as we accommodated ourselves to the pace of the ox-teams, making about 8 miles – at 20 minutes to 2 P. M., we were again in motion – went 8 miles and encamped on the open prairie, a mile from the river, and still farther from timber, which was on Grand Island opposite – Bro. Pack, J. Redden & myself walked to the banks of the river for wood, but could find only 2 or 3 little sticks – Pres’t. Young gave the boys the liberty of dancing a little this evening, as it was very cold, the wind being in the north – reached this place about 6 P. M. & encamped in a circle, having made 16 miles to-day. The last of the 1st bag of corn for the horses, was used this evening. The wind blew very strong from the north all night.

Saturday the 1st of May.

Cold morning; the wind still in the north – Col. Markham not being very well; the command devolved upon Major John Pack – We were ordered to go in succession this morning every 10 by itself, with its captain at its head. started at ½ past 5, went 6 miles and stopt to feed on the bank of the river at 10 minutes past 8 a.m. Sometime before we arrived here, we saw through a spy-glass 3 buffalo grazing on the top of the bluff to our right some 5 or six miles – a – 2 or 3 footmen went out in pursuit, also 3 horsemen, viz: – Porter, Thomas Brown, & Luke Johnson – Just before we arrived here, saw a large herd some distance in advance of us, also about 5 or 6 miles to our right – Bro. O. Pratt counted 74 by the aid of his spy-glass – They are now quite visible from our present stopping place – The thermometer last night stood at 41 degrees – Our course, this forenoon has been due west. Here, although we found but little wood, we managed to get breakfast – it is about 50 yds across the channel to Grand Island at this place, – travelled about 4 miles and crossed a slough or pond, which puts up from the River about 12 o’clock M. Soon after Porter, T. Brown & Luke Johnson returned – they had wounded, as they supposed mortally, 2 buffaloes, – which however managed to get away from them – about 1 o’clock P. M. we descried, at the distance of 5 or 6 miles, to our right, on the side of the hill, or bluff, 2 or 3 herds of buffaloes grazing; an immediate halt was made, a band of 10 or 12 horsemen (hunters,) speedily collected, and made arrangements for the chase. They soon got ready and started – Bro. Heber soon followed. The wagons travelled along slowly, being in full view of the chase. The horsemen took a circuitous route, in order to head the herd, but were prevented from doing so immediately by an unforeseen occurrence. – An antelope passing by near us, was shot at by one of the brethren, (a footman,) but the shot did not take effect – Directly, the animal made towards the bluff, seeing which, two dogs went off in full chase. – The 3 went right among the buffaloes,[120] which alarmed at the appearance of the dogs began to move off – Soon after the horsemen made their appearance upon the brow of the hill – Now commenced a scene which defies all description. – Every spy-glass that could be found in the camp was put into immediate requisition, and the scene became one of intense interest to us, all as spectators – as soon as the buffaloes discovered the approach of the hunters, they increased their speed, (which before had been slow,) to a full gallop and passing along the side of the hill, were followed by the hunters in quick and hot pursuit leaving a cloud of dust in their rear. – Most of the hunters by riding in among them, succeeded in getting a fair shot although they did not all prove fatal, a number of the herd making their escape that were shot through the body – Bro. Heber rode in among them, made a shot at one and brought him down – His horse partly alarmed at the discharge of the gun, and partly at the sight of the animals, suddenly started, and came very near throwing him – Porter rode up to one, (by way of experiment,) & shot him full in the forehead, but without making the least impression, the hide of the skull-piece being an inch thick besides being covered with a large mass of coarse matted hair as we discovered after the animals were brought in. The chase ceased about 4 P. M., and the hunters came up to us about 5 P. M., The fruits of the day’s work were as follow: – 1 bull, 3 cows, & 6 calves – making 10 buffaloes, – Some of the hunters not yet returned, who went out on foot this morning, 5 wagons were immediately unloaded & sent out to bring in the game – we moved on, and encamped at half past 6 P. M., near a pond or slough ½ a mile from the River, with which it communicates in times of high water – made 18 miles to day, we arranged our wagons, as usual, in a semi-circular form – this place is about a mile above the head of Grand Island, which is plain to be seen from here – there is little scattering timber here, growing on the banks of the pond, but there is very little grass, as it has been grazed very closely by the buffaloes, and prairie dogs; we passed through a town or village of the latter, commencing about 5 miles back, and as far as we can yet see ahead, it continues – The brethren of the camp are, this evening, somewhat concerned about Bro. Joseph Hancock – He went out to the bluffs this morning before breakfast, and has not yet returned – a little after dark, the wagons, sent out after the game returned – and the meat distributed, ¼ of an animal being given to each 10 –

The little meetings which the sisters held twice or three times in a week, were begun in the month of May, while we had the privilege of Sisters Eliza R. Snow, Zina Young and a few others, who went with the first company that left Winter Quarters in June for the Rocky Mountains. The spirit that began to be poured out while they were with us, continued to burn in the bosoms of those who met often one with another, and the love of God flowed from heart to heart, till the wicked one seemed powerless in his efforts to get between us and the Lord, and his cruel darts, in some instances, were shorn of their sting.

At the time when numbers were laying sick with the terrible scourge that was carrying off so many of the Saints, being made easy prey for disease and death in consequence of the weakened condition to which they were reduced by long privations and exposure, and death seemed determined to lay them low, my mother would go from door to door ministering food and consolation to the sick, and pouring out blessings upon them, during which time she scarcely touched food herself; at mealtimes she would only take a cup of milk, saying, when urged to eat, that she had no room for it. She seemed to grow stronger in body, and had an abundance of nurse for her babe; in blessing she was blessed, and there were others enjoying a portion of the same spirit, and by their united faith and works, with fasting and prayer, the sick were healed and made to rejoice more abundantly in the mercy of their Lord, that they were numbered among those who were to come up through much tribulation and be made white in the blood of the Lamb.

There were many great and glorious manifestations—some had visions, and by the gift of tongues there were things foretold, some of which we have seen the fulfillment of, and others that are coming swiftly upon those who have turned away and are uniting their voices and influence against that Zion which we were told should be established in these mountains, where the laws of God were to rule, and the honorable of the earth would come to dwell within its borders, because the wicked were allowed to rule elsewhere, and peace was taken from the earth, except it were in Zion, a place where righteousness would reign, and naught should molest or make afraid in all the holy mount.

Many were the things revealed by the spirit concerning the judgments that would be poured out upon the nations after they rejected the gospel, and smote and slew others of God’s messengers who should be sent out to proclaim the gospel of salvation to an erring world, and the righteous would barely escape, and many of them would be called upon to lay down their lives in their struggle for the truth; also of the wars that were right at our doors, famine, pestilence, etc., and the anguish that would rend the hearts of the suffering and bereaved; that the time would be when hunger would overcome every tender feeling, and even mothers would eat their own babes. Many terrible things were so clearly portrayed to the minds of those who were present and understood as they were spoken, by the gift and power of the Spirit, that we felt to pray the Lord to close the vision of our minds.

Frequently, without eating or drinking, we would meet in the morning, either at my mother’s, or some other of father’s houses, and spend the day singing, praying and prophesying; occasionally some of the brethren who could leave their work united with us and received great blessings in connection with the sisters; many consoling things were spoken by the spirit concerning our brethren, the pioneers and battalion, to the truth of which they testified when they returned.

Sisters Presendia Kimball and Frances Swan Kimball, also Emmeline Whitney, now editor of the WOMAN’S EXPONENT, were gifted in the interpretation of tongues. The two former, with a few others, met at the house occupied by Sister Presendia and Laura P. Kimball, and while conversing upon some of the spiritual manifestations the same power rested down upon them, and an open vision appeared to Frances. I have not heard it related for years, but as nearly as my memory serves me, they that were there said she arose, and her countenance beamed with a brightness like unto one transfigured; her voice and language was heavenly, and grace was in every movement, as she stood there and related over scenes in the experience of some of those sisters, which were some of the most acute trials that had been their lot to pass through during their earth-lives, or while being driven from place to place in Missouri, Illinois, and at various times since they took upon themselves the name of Latter-day Saint. She seemed to be addressing one or more personages, who recorded each one’s story as they were told them, only one entering their presence at a time, Frances being voice for them, as well as for the personage, who, in return, addressed them with a look of approval, and with a countenance beaming with joy and satisfaction, they were welcomed, and a bright crown of glory was placed on each one’s head, attended with words suitable to their station and the occasion. Sister Frances had known little or nothing of their previous experience, and had never heard the incidents related, but she described them as accurately as if told by themselves.

I heard the vision related, but Sister Presendia could do it more justice, no doubt, as she witnessed the whole, and at best I have retained but a faint remembrance of it, not having been present at that meeting.

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 13,
1 December 1885, p. 98

a womanEmmeline B. Wells Whitney (1828–1921), journalist, editor, poet, and fifth general president of the Relief Society. Courtesy of Church History Library.

Sunday the 2d.

Clear and cold – the wind yet in the north. severe frost last night. During last night a buffalo calf was shot in the leg by one of the guard, and caught by a negro in the camp[121] – it had probably smelt, & followed up the wagons, that went out after the game – It was killed this morning –We were all very glad to see Bro. Hancock make his appearance this morning, as we had about given him up, thinking that he had been taken by the Sioux Indians, who are supposed to be not a great way off – He had killed a buffalo cow, (a small piece of which he brought in with him,) and had sat up all night to guard it – He saw 3 wolves, (one of which he shot,) which attracted by the smelling of the meat, came up near his fire. Thus, 12 buffaloes were killed, by the hands of inexperienced hunters, and it seemed as if the Lord assisted us by his almighty hand, for there was a number of brethren who were entirely destitute of meat, &c.– The remainder of the meat, this morning, was divided into 14 parcels, one to each 10. The brethren are principally engaged in cutting halters out of buffalo hides, drying or curing their meat, or guarding the cattle & horses, which are suffered to run loose, one being selected out of each 10 for that purpose,– Brigham, Heber, Amasa, Bro. Benson, Luke Johnson, O. P. Rockwell, H. Egan, J. Matthews, John Brown, Phineas Young & Lorenzo Young started about 1 P. M., in quest of a more suitable camping-ground, where the grass is more plenty for our stock – they returned in about 2 hours, having found a place – we all started at ¼ past 4 P. M. – travelled about 2 miles & encamped at 5 minutes past 5 P. M. on the banks of a slough, or pond (which puts up from the River,) about 400 yds. from the same – Before we started one or two of the brethren went out with Bro. Hancock after the buffalo he killed and left behind – they found it, but it was so mangled by the wolves that they only got part of it – The air quite chilly this evening – not much wind stirring – 2 antelope were killed by the brethren, while they were out after the buffalo. We found the grass here some what more plenty than at the place we left – it is called buffalo grass, being a mixture of dry & green, & the cattle eat it quite greedily – Our wagons are formed, as usual, in a semi-circle – we brought a little wood along with us, as there is no timber of any kind about the place – The river at this point is nearly 2 miles wide. –

Monday the 3d.

Somewhat cloudy this morning – the wind in the south-west – we have noticed for a day or two back, large fires ahead of us, and suppose it to be caused by the Indians. – This morning, at ½ past 9 o’clock, a band of 20 hunters went out on foot in pursuit of buffaloes. – It is the intention to remain in our present encampment to-day, to give the hunters a chance to kill what game they can – 15 men also started up the river to find out a good track for us to pursue when we shall start again – They started about 10 o’clock a.m., and returned at 2 P. M. – They had been about 12 miles – Bro. Wm. [William] Empy , as they were travelling along, saw a number of antelope and pursued them – he was about a mile in advance of the remainder of the brethren, when, ascending a hill, he saw in the valley beneath, between 2 & 300 Indians – He judged from their appearance & situation, that they are aware of the vicinity of our camp, and are there awaiting our approach – The others saw the Indians afterwards, – in all probability, they are Sioux – they have put fire to the prairie, in almost every direction – Bro. Benson and E. [Erastus] Snow were at the head of the expedition – as soon as they came in, orders were given to have all the horses brought in, & for 20 horsemen to go in pursuit of the hunters, in order to have them return immediately, peradventure, we might need their assistance if we should be attacked – a few drops of rain fell this afternoon – Orson went, as one of the horsemen after the hunters – they started about 3 P. M. – there were 23 in all. Some of the hunters got in at ½ past 4 P. M., – and the last of them not until dark – They had separated, and hunted in parties, so that only a part of them saw the men who were sent out after them – The latter came in about sunset. – The hunting party brought in 3 antelope, the others 2 buffalo calves, one of which Orson & John Y. Green killed. –

Tuesday the 4th.

Warm and pleasant, the wind being in the south-west – The brethren of the camp were called together this morning for the purpose of hearing some instruction from Pres’t Young. It was in substance as follows: – That each member of this camp should seek for the others’ interests, as much as if they belonged to the same family, and this is the way we have all got to feel, & it is the way the whole world have got to feel, who are saved in the kingdom of God. – That, in case that the right or left wing of our camp should be attacked, all the people would huddle to that particular point, & leave other parts unguarded, not understanding the regulations of the camp; therefore every 10, in case of an alarm, should gather immediately around its own captain – That the captain of each 10 should drill his company as often as circumstances & opportunity would permit. – By request of Pres’t. Young, the rules & regulations adopted some time ago, were read by Bro. Bullock, the clerk of the camp, & a vote taken to ascertain if the brethren would conform to, and abide by the same, which was unanimous in the affirmative. – Col. Markham called for 10 volunteers, to constitute an addition to the guard, which were soon made up, making 60 men in all. – We started about 9 a.m., went a little way & stopt to organize the companies in the order of travelling for the day – We started again at 11 a.m., 5 wagons constituting each 10, travelling abreast – went about 2 miles, & met a trader from Fort Laramie – he had come over the river to see us, leaving 8 of his companions on the other side – We all stopt our wagons in the road, and almost all the men in the camp wrote letters back to their friends to send by the trader, who gave his name as Charles Barkman – Orson wrote a few lines to “A. M. W.”, which he enclosed in a letter I wrote to my wife – They were bound to Weston, a place near Ft. Leavenworth, & from thence the trader promised to forward the letters to Mr. Sarpee at the Point, who would, in turn, forward them to our friends at Winter Quarters. – I wrote in a great hurry, as the trader was very impatient to depart & rejoin his comrades.[122] The brethren gave him near a bag-full of bread, &c.– & he sold Bro. Philo Johnson a buffalo robe for 1½ lbs. coffee. When he went back over the river, Bro. Pack, T. Wolsey, & John Brown accompanied him on horseback to see the capt. of the company about the transfer of the letters, & also to make some enquiries about the road – after a detention of about ½ hour, we went on & stopt to feed about 4 P. M. forming in a circle – Here Col. Markham called the companies together to drill them, which occupied about ½ hour – While here Bro. Pack, Wolsey, & Brown returned & made report of what they had seen & heard – They (the traders,) advised us to cross the river here, as there was plenty of grass for our cattle, & innumerable herds of buffalo that side, whereas, this side the river, we would find the prairie all burnt in every direction, besides, when we get to Fort John we would be obliged to ferry over the “North Fork” of the Platte River. A vote was taken whether we should travel this side or not, which passed in the affirmative, as it was judged best to make a track of our own, for the brethren, coming on hereafter to follow. – We started again, sun about an hour high, travelled in single file till a little after sunset, & encamped on a running stream, about ¼ mile from the river – Bro. K named it Buffalo creek, from the fact of his seeing a large herd of buffalo about a mile ahead, just as we arrived at this place – We have formed our wagons in a semicircle on a plot of dry grass of about 5 acres, the rest of the prairie being burnt for miles all around – In fact to-day we have passed over nothing but burnt prairie. The wind to-day has been chiefly from the south – Our course has been near south west, having come 9 miles Forgot to mention that the cannon was fired last evening & this morning, to apprise the Indians that we were prepared for them, if they should meditate an attack upon us. –

Wednesday the 5th.

Clear day – strong wind from the south west – we started this morning about 10 minutes before 7, crossed the creek on which we encamped, & travelled over a flat, marshy bottom, which had been burned entirely over, except here & there small patches of dry grass – at half past 11 we halted to feed, near a kind of marsh, which furnished us with water for our horses & cattle having come 9 miles – after remaining here 1½ hours, we moved on. – We were considerably annoyed with dust & ashes to-day, as we passed along, the ground having recently burned over – Travelled about 5½ miles further, & came to fire – it being immediately in front of us on our route, & the wind blowing very strong it was thought best to go no further; so we retraced our steps about ½ a mile, & encamped in a circle on the bank of the river, opposite an island, on which we found a few scattering cotton-wood trees. It is only 2 or 3 rods across to the island, so we took our horses over to give them browse – The river at this place is near 2 miles in width – On the opposite side is a high range of bluffs, not far from the river, which appear to be covered with green grass – a large herd of buffaloes was seen there this evening. – We reached this place & encamped about 5 P. M. – Just before we arrived, John Brown, Luke Johnson, Amasa Lyman, & Jack Redden each killed a buffalo calf – Joseph Matthews killed a buffalo cow – Bro. K., Porter, and John Higbee, pursued a calf which they took alive & brought into camp, uninjured, except being a little lame in one leg – it was killed this evening. 4 horsemen, & 3 men in the Revenue Cutter started to bring in the game, which amounted to 6 calves & 1 cow, including the one captured alive – We have pursued a due west course to-day, having come 14 miles – The men brought in the game about sunset – The captains of 10s were called upon this evening to go & get their share of the meat. –


Thursday the 6th.

Clear weather fresh breeze from the south-west – the sun arose cloudless & beautiful – we had quite a shower of rain during last night, which seemed quite providential for us, as it extinguished the fire on the prairie, which, when we retired to bed, was brightly burning. – We started this morning about ½ past 5 o’clock, before breakfast, in order to get to a place where we could find grass for our stock – We went 2 miles and halted, having come about ½ a mile beyond the place where the prairie was burning last night, before the rain fell – As we passed along, we saw 3 herds of buffaloes to the right about 3 miles. – we also saw a number of antelope on our route this morning. – Soon after we saw the antelope, the dogs frightened a hare, that had been laying in the grass, which immediately bounded off at full speed – This is the first one I ever saw, & Pres’t. Young said it was the first one he had ever seen in this country – Bro. Roswell Stevens shot an antelope as he was running, just as we arrived. We are about ¼ a mile from the river – we brought our wood along with us, as there is none near this place – here we got breakfast – Moved on again at ¼ to 9 a.m., went 2 miles & saw the largest herd of buffaloes we have yet seen on our route – they were only ¾ of a mile to the right of us – here we also saw the first drove of elk, on the journey. – Porter shot at one of the latter before the wagons came up, but missed him – Jack Redden shot an antelope as 2 were passing within 15 or 20 rods of our wagons – being headed & driven towards us from the River by Luke Johnson – they were going as fast as they could run, one a little behind the other, – the former was killed instantly, being shot through near the back-bone – the latter escaped, notwithstanding several shots were fired at him – halted to feed at ¼ to 12, having come 6 miles, – we are now ¼ of a mile from the River. Just before we arrived, Luke Johnson caught a small buffalo calf alive – By the advice of Pres’t. Young it was set free. This noon Col. Markham called the members of the 6th 10 of the Night Guard together, in order for them to choose a captain & be organized, ready to go on duty to-night – travelled near a west course this forenoon – We were in motion again, about 1½ P. M., saw numerous herds of buffalo on both sides of the river, & in fact, we were in sight of them all day, travelled on, at pretty good speed, without much stopping, and encamped on the banks of the river, opposite an island, in a circle, about 6½ P. M., – the river here & all the way we have come to-day, is interspersed with numerous groups of islands, of different sizes – we have made 15 miles to-day. – Just before we arrived, 4 buffaloes, which had been down to the river to drink, came directly across our path, 20 or 30 rods ahead of the foremost wagon – still a little further on, we came across one lying down in a ravine, which was so poor it could not run – it was a cow – we left it uninjured, as also, all others that we saw to-day, as the orders are, not to slay any more till permission is given by the authorities of the church – Bro. K., with some others, has been ahead on horseback, & reports that the grass is grazed close to the ground by the buffalo, thus affording but little chance for our cattle, &c.– This evening we can scarcely turn our eyes in any direction on either side of the river, but that we can see herds of buffalo, & ahead of us a mile or so, the plain is perfectly black with them. The sun set clear in the west, this evening, & it has every appearance of being fair weather – not much air stirring The river at this place, inclines to the north-west, & our course this afternoon, has been about west, northwest – at noon to-day, whilst we halted to feed, Pres’t. Young lost his new spy-glass, which came from England – he thinks he lost it out of his pocket, while himself & Heber C. were out driving in some of the cattle, that were following off a herd of buffalo – The river is about a mile in width here –

On the morning of May 6th I was delivered of a beautiful and healthy girl baby, which died at birth. Thus the only bright star, to which my doting heart had clung, was snatched away, and, though it seemed a needless bereavement, and most cruel in the eyes of all who beheld it, their sympathies were such that, by their united faith and prayers, they seemed to buoy me up to that degree that death was shorn of its sting, till I could say, “Thy will, not mine, be done.” Three weeks of suffering followed, when I was dressed one day, but I took cold and was again prostrated, and lay in a critical state for another three weeks, a part of that time in a cold clammy sweat, until everything on me was as wet as though it had been drenched in cold water, and death seemed determined to claim me, but I was saved for a purpose. Before I was able to sit up, the scurvy laid hold of me, commencing at the tips of the fingers of my left hand with black streaks running up the nails, with inflammation and the most intense pain, and which increased till it had reached my shoulder. Poultices of scraped potato, the best thing, it was considered, to subdue the inflammation; it would turn black as soon as applied, and for all they were changed every few minutes for fresh ones, it was all to no effect. By this time I had lost all faith, and patience, too, and, with a feeling of desperation, I arose, and, taking the wrap and everything with it, I threw it with such force that it went into the fireplace on the opposite side of the room, saying, “There you can stay, for I will never do another thing for it!” and to my great surprise I had no occasion to, as the pain and disease had left me, and from that moment I felt no more of it. Still there were other obstacles in the way of my full recovery; though I was free from pain, I remained in a feeble state for some time, so that I had to lie down a goodly portion of the time.

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 10,
15 October 1885, p. 78


Friday the 7th.

The air, this morning, keen & cold, the wind being in the north-west – It was concluded not to start early this morning, as a number of the teams are pretty near exhausted with yesterday’s travel – Saw an object moving across the river this morning, which, on examination with a spy-glass, proved to be an elk. –The brethren were called together this morning, to hear some instruction from Pres’t. Young: he stated, that he wished that some of the brethren, who had spare horses would raise one or two to draw the cannon – that he supposed, when they left Winter Quarters, that it was furnished with a team; but behold, when they had got out here, a long way from home, the men, who had given the horses for that purpose, wished to take them away for their own use – that his own horses were completely tired out in drawing it, & he thought it not more than right that others should step forward & assist – that he wanted a man to drive the team, who would not permit 8 or 10 men & boys to ride on the cannon, that being the case, he thought two horses could easily draw it. Bro. Roswell Stevens furnished one for the day, to put along side of one they already had. – Pres’t. Young slightly reproved Bro. Erastus Snow, (who had charge of the cow-herd yesterday) for neglect of duty – the latter retorted, in no very measured terms, when the President proved by a number of individuals, that he was absent from, when he should have been present with, the herd – Notwithstanding, Erastus continued to excuse himself; but Pres’t. Yong rebuked him very sharply, telling him that if he had been only a year or two in the church, he would be excusable; but, as he had been for a number of years therein, he ought to know better than to give way to a rebellious spirit; for he had seen a number of men go to the Devil from the same cause, like unto Warren Parrish & Sylvester Smith, who apostatized at Kirtland, several years ago – a vote was taken, that all those, who believed Bro. Snow was in the way of his duty yesterday, should say “Yes” – contrary, “No” – It was unanimous in the negative.[123] – Pres’t Young advised that, in travelling, every captain should remain with his company of 10, or, if he left, to appoint a man to act in his place – that it was his mind that no more game should be killed, either antelope, buffalo, or any thing else, “for,” said he, “my opinion is, that if we do slay when we do not need, we will need when we cannot slay.” – He further said, that men & boys should not, out of mere bravadoe, venture near a herd of buffalo, for some time or other they would get injured or nearly killed by them, & then they would begin to take the hint, & wish they had obeyed counsel, & kept away – I stood guard this morning on the outside of the camp, to prevent the horses & cattle from straying away. – We started on our journey, about 11 a.m., travelled in a north-west direction, about 7 miles & encamped at 3 P. M. in a circle on the bank of the river opposite an island – here we found the grass quite plenty, compared with that of the place we left to-day – Thomas Brown & Porter went back this morning to our noon stopping-place of yesterday in search of Pres’t. Young’s spyglass; they returned this evening, having been successful – As usual, we saw numerous herds of buffalo to-day on our route – A large number of them coming from the river whither they had been to drink, crossed our track this afternoon, not far ahead of the foremost wagon – a young calf, belonging to the number, got tired, & laid down in the grass – Bro.[Francis] Pomeroy caught it, but let it go again. – They do not seem to be much frightened at our appearance, as they will allow us to come within a few rods of them without running away – In fine, they are getting to be quite troublesome, as our cattle, smelling them at some distance will follow them off – The weather continued cold through the day – a few drops of rain fell this afternoon, after we had arrived at this place – This evening the companies were all called out for drill exercise, & were inspected by Col. Rockwood, the aide-de-camp of the Lieut. Gen., as the latter was not present. –

Saturday the 8th

Fine, clear day, the sun shining brightly in the heavens – I stood on guard an hour this morning in Orson’s place, to prevent the cattle & horses from straying off – Started at 9 o’clock a.m., travelled along In sight of the Platte River, over rather an uneven, barren country – seeing on our route, as usual, numerous herds of buffalo, on both sides of the River – stopt at 1 P. M., on the banks thereof to feed & water, leaving our wagons in the road, as they were arranged in the order of travelling – the weather this forenoon quite warm & sultry, there being but little air stirring – Porter shot a buffalo heifer just before we stopt – a few minutes after we arrived here, a number of buffalo came quite near to our wagons – Amasa Lyman made a shot at one of them, but it did not take effect – we came about 7 miles this forenoon – The grass is grazed close to the ground over which we have travelled to day, &, in fact it resembles a barn or cow-yard, more than any thing else – Started again at ½ past 4, having been detained here longer than we expected, on account of 2 horses straying away among the herd of buffalo – the brethren who went out in pursuit, had to follow them 2 or 3 miles at full speed, before they could recover them travelled 4¼ miles, & encamped at 6 P. M., in a semi-circle, on the bank of the river having pursued a N. W. course most of the day – Bro. Clayton ascertained the distance we had travelled to-day, by counting the revolutions of the hind wheel of the wagon in which he rode – this he done by means of driving a nail into one of the spokes, which would strike a saw that projected from the wagon bed at every revolution of the wheel, which he first ascertained to be 14 feet & 8 inches in circumference, The plain or bottom, over which we have hitherto been travelling, terminates abruptly in a high range of bluffs, about a ¼ of a mile in advance of our camping-place, & these we have to ascend, before proceeding further – as, according to what Bro. K. says, who has been ahead, 1½ miles they stop immediately to the water’s edge – The ground here, like that over which we have travelled to-day, is nearly devoid of grass – there being no wood in the vicinity, we were obliged to use buffalo excrement instead as fuel – slight, cool breeze from the south-east, 2 buffalo calves killed this afternoon – one of them was shot by Thomas Brown, the other was caught by T. Pomeroy – nothing else of importance to-day –

Sunday the 9th.

Strong wind from the south-east. Started at 10 minutes to 8 a.m., travelled over a rugged sandy road, along under the bluffs, which come near to the water – went 3½ miles & encamped in a semi-circle at 10 minutes past 10 a.m. – I took my horses to the island opposite, & cut down cotton-wood trees for them as the ground here is also barren of grass – Orson & myself partially unloaded our wagon, to shake the clothes, &c. as every thing very dusty, & also to get at our clean clothes, as we have not changed for 2 weeks or more – The bluffs here are perfect masses of sand, and bear the appearance of having been thrown, or helaped [sic] up by the wind, being of different, & irregular forms & sizes – a meeting was held this afternoon. – Bros. Amasa Lyman, Wilford Woodruff, Ezra T. Benson, O. Pratt & Erastus Snow spoke at some length – The latter made an apology for being so hasty & impetuous in his expressions on Friday morning last – I did not attend meeting, having other business – taking care of the horses, &c. Pres’t. Young Heber, W. Woodruff, Amasa Lyman, E. T. Benson, Porter, & a number of others went ahead on horseback some distance this afternoon to look out a track, view the face of the country, &c.– They returned about sunset, & reported it to be pretty much as it has been for a few days back – that is, quite barren. This evening Bro. Wm. Clayton planted a guide-post in the ground, ¼ of a mile in advance of our camping ground place, which announced the distance from thence to Winter Quarters, to be 300 miles according to his reckoning – by mine it is 297 miles – the wind having veered round to the north it is quite cool this evening.[124]

Monday the 10th.

Somewhat cloudy this morning, though it cleared off towards noon, & became quite warm. Started at 9 a.m., went about 2 miles & crossed a small creek, called by Bro. K. Skunk creek which flows with considerable rapidity – Travelled till 12 M., over a sandy, wet bottom, & stopt to feed, near a kind of marsh, about ¼ of a mile from the River, having come a few rods over 6 miles – The grass here is coarse, rank, & dry – Porter & Thomas Brown went out in pursuit of a wild horse this forenoon, & have not yet returned – Bro. Joseph Hancock killed a fine buffalo heifer just before we arrived at the creek above mentioned – This morning, before starting, the Twelve, (or a portion of them,) planted a guide-post in the ground, at the camping-place – on one side of the board was written the following inscription – “Look in this – 316 miles from Winter Quarters – Camp of Pioneers, bound Westward – May 10, 1847.” – On the other side was written, – “Look in this, & you will find a letter” – We started again at 2 o’clock P. M., – “O. P. R.” & Thomas Brown soon after overtook us – they had been unsuccessful in their pursuit of the wild horse – they followed him to the bluffs, after ascending which they lost sight of him – it is supposed to be one lost by some band of emigrants going westward – passed over pretty much the same kind of ground we did this forenoon – travelled 3¾ miles & encamped in a semi-circle on the banks of the river, opposite an island which affords abundance of cotton-wood – the grass here has taken quite a start, as it has probably not been visited by the buffalo for a week or more – Bros. P. Young & J. Hancock shot a deer near here this evening – We made 9¾ miles to-day, Bro. Amasa Lyman shot a hare to-day – We have seen but few buffalo to-day, & consequently have hopes that the grass will be better after we get a little farther along – We think that the vast herds of buffalo, we have been accustomed to see daily for some time back, are gradually retiring to the eastward. On the island opposite I discovered a number of small pine trees or shrubs – Capt. A. Harmon is busily engaged in constructing an apparatus, by which we can ascertain the number of miles we travel each day – It is to be found by means of a wheel with 60 cogs, a screw, &c., & is to be attached to the side of the wagon in which Wm. Clayton rides, communicating with the hind wheel of the same – travelled near a North-west course to-day – The sky this evening serene and cloudless – there being a slight breeze from the south-east The place we left this morning, (according to Prof. Pratt,) is in latitude north 41 degrees.

sketchMormon Train in Camp. Lassoing the steers preparatory to yoking up for a start. Utah State Historical Society.

Tuesday the 11th.

Fine, clear morning, the wind being in the south-east. – I took my horses this morning to a marsh in the rear of the camp about ½ a mile, on the margin of which the grass is quite green & luxuriant. – A number of the brethren went out about ¼ of a mile, & dug into a hole, near which one of the brethren had shot at a wolf this morning: after digging about 15 minutes, they found 4 young wolves, which they brought alive into the camp – they afterwards killed them. – We are now, from all accounts, not far from the junction of the North & South Forks of the Platte River. – The bluffs ahead, on both sides of the river, judging from their appearance at a distance, make a gradual curve, & approach each other from the north & south, – At ½ past 9 a.m., we recommenced our journey – I saw no buffalo to-day, although there were numerous vestiges of their having been here within a week or two – we travelled in a north-west direction, as usual, over a sandy, wet bottom halting on our route a few minutes on the banks of the river to water our horses & cattle, & encamped at 3 P. M., in a circle, about ½ a mile beyond a small running stream which we forded & about the same distance from the river, on the banks of which is the nearest timber. Soon after we arrived, I went back to the creek, to try my luck at fishing, & returned in about an hour without any success, as there were but few fish in the stream, and those very small. Bro. James Davenport, the blacksmith in our Division, put up his forge this afternoon, near my wagon, in order to make some repairs for the brethren. – Orson mended one of our wagon-bows, which was broken the other day – the air is quite chilly, the wind being still strong from the south-east – made 8½ miles to day. – The grass here is quite fresh & good, compared with what it has been where we have lately travelled, & we have hopes that we will find it still better, as we progress on our journey – I do not know of any game having been killed to-day, except a hare that was shot by Bro. Roswell Stevens this afternoon, near this place, just before we arrived. – some of the brethren dug a well, which supplies us with good drinking water – this is very convenient, as otherwise we would be obliged to go to the creek ½ a mile distant – Bro. Heber came to me this evening & invited me to take a walk with him – we went out about a ¼ of a mile, on the prairie, where we remained near ½ an hour in conversation on different matters, – past, present, & future – Among other things he spoke of the anxiety he had for our friends whom we have left behind in Winter Quarters, & in particular of the affection he had for his wife Vilate & all his family – also of the great friendship he cherished towards our family – that he verily believed, he had the prayers of father & mother for his welfare – he spoke in the highest terms of Vilate & Sarah Ann, praising them for their steadfastness integrity, and uprightness in sustaining him, whenever he felt weighed down with care & perplexity – He gave me a great deal of good advice – said he hoped that I would continue to dignify myself and become a mighty man of honor before God & all men that the “steps” that I had taken should redound more to my honor & glory, than if they had been taken “for time and all eternity”, as I was in a manner, acting for a number of persons, viz: – Joseph, father, himself & myself, inasmuch as the former had promised that our two families should dwell near him in the eternal world. – That he hoped no discord would arise between our two families, as we were bound by double ties, & he did not wish them ever to be severed.[125] – He then spoke of the prospects ahead – that in about 2 months he thought we would reach our place of destination – that he had never thought of getting there in time to raise a spring crop, but would, in all probability in time to plant turnip seed, make gardens, build a few houses &c. & for those who went back to return in the fall – he would like to have Orson & myself build a house, so that in case father should send on any of his family this season, they might have a home & a shelter – After talking some few minutes longer, he proposed that we should pray – We accordingly knelt down, & he made a beautiful prayer, which, for a sincerity & depth of feeling cannot be surpassed – he manifested so much paternal feeling towards his family, in the desires that he offered up before the Lord for their happiness & welfare, that, if they could have heard him, they would have been immediately banished by the conviction that they lay closely entwined around his heart – he prayed for father & mother, for my wife, and finally for the saints in Winter Quarters, & throughout all the world – that the Twelve might have wisdom to guide this people aright even in the present undertaking, that we might be enabled, through the assistance & guidance of the Lord, to reach a land where we could build & inhabit, plant vineyards & eat the fruit thereof, & have a place to set our feet “where there would be none to molest, nor make afraid.” – After he had closed, he asked me if I wished to pray? – which I did, & we arose and retraced our steps to the camp, after having enjoyed one of the happiest, (& apparently the briefest) meetings that I have experienced in a long time. – Bro. Heber, almost daily is accustomed to go ahead on horseback, & survey the track look out good camping places for the night, &c.– Sometimes he is attended by a few of the hunters, at other times almost unattended – I neglected to mention that Prof. Pratt took an observation to-day noon, & ascertained us to be in latitude 41 deg; 7 min; & 44 sec. north – at this place. –

We never dreamed, when commencing those little prayer meetings—coming together so frequently and enjoying the outpourings of the Holy Spirit—of having to meet and contend with the opposite; but so it was. The love and union that prevailed seemed to enrage the evil one, and, not being able to cause a division among us, he vented his wrath upon the little ones.

At one of the meetings which I attended at Sister Presendia’s, there was a powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and many comforting words were uttered, and prophecies of blessings which it was our privilege to obtain, if we would unite in fasting and prayer.

a womanPersis Goodall Young (1806–94), woman of faith. Courtesy of Church History Library.

Previous to this the merchants, Davis and Kimball, who rented one of my mother’s rooms, having sold out their stock, had gone back to Nauvoo, and her house was the place appointed by the voice of the Spirit to hold the fast meeting, and the great blessing to be gained thereby was the administration of an angel or angels. I had a promise that day that I should be healed by the power of God. Up to this time I had remained feeble and unable to sit up but little, or to walk to a neighbor’s without having to lie down, and this I desired more than anything else of a temporal nature. In obedience to that spirit Mother Whitney, her daughter, Sarah Ann, Sisters Louisa Pitkin, Presendia Buel, Sarah Lawrence, Frances Swan, Harriet Sanders, Persis Young and two or three others who were there, all being my father’s wives but Sister Persis and Mother Whitney, met the next morning without eating or drinking. But no sooner had we begun to offer up our united prayers than the devil commenced his operations on the three little ones that were there, mother’s Brigham and her little babe, and Sarah Ann’s son, who was born on the journey from Nauvoo. It would be one and then the other. The eldest was playing in the room adjoining, and without any known cause, he commenced screaming; floundering and going into the most frightful contortions, which obliged us to stop and administer to him and rebuke that spirit in the name of Jesus, when the child quieted down and went to sleep. We had no sooner begun again to seek in prayer for the promised blessing, than we were again interrupted by my mother’s babe screaming, and it had lain sleeping peacefully till then. He was operated upon in a similar manner to the other, so we were under the necessity of again stopping to administer to him, when he was immediately relieved, and went to sleep. But just as soon as we commenced again to struggle for the blessing that had been promised, the third one was seized, and this continued through the day, and every time the evil spirits were rebuked by the power of the priesthood, which had been conferred upon us in the house of God in connection with our husbands. This only stimulated us to persevere, and that wrestle continued between the two powers, each seeking the supremacy, till finally we became satisfied that we would have to part with one of those little ones before we could obtain the coveted blessing. Therefore, when the day was nearly spent, and we had witnessed the workings of the two powers—one just in proportion to the other—the mothers concluded to call Bishop Whitney and relate this day’s experience and leave the decision with him, whether or not we had been directed by the right spirit. We broke our fast, and the bishop came about dusk and spent the best portion of the night in answering questions and explaining doctrines and things which the sisters had never before understood. He had previously expressed some fears that the sisters might be out of the way, seeing them meet together so often, but he changed his mind, for he was filled with the Holy Spirit the moment he entered the house. His mind was clear and like a fountain, and we only had to ask and receive, for our faith was such that it would take no denial. He told us that we were nearer obtaining what we had sought for, and the Lord was nearer than we had any idea of, and that our desires would have been realized had we given up one of those children. He said it was only through similar struggles that any great manifestations from on high were ever obtained. There were things that he uttered that night that he did not know of himself, but by the Spirit some choice truths were revealed through him, and they were of a most consoling nature to women, particularly to those who were making a willing sacrifice in helping their husbands to accomplish the great and mighty purposes which the Lord had commanded them to do, and they were promised that eventually all that were true and faithful would enjoy all that their hearts desired, or could conceive of; their trials and sufferings here would be swallowed up in the glory they had attained to through obedience, and they would be enthroned and reign as queens in the presence of God, eternities without end.

I, being very weary and sad in spirit at the close of the day, had lain down, and I fell asleep while he was talking. I was quite young, and not having been healed as I had been told I should be, my faith was considerably shaken; but the things I heard Father Whitney say before I dropped to sleep comforted me to that degree that I forgot my disappointment in the hope of that happiness which I believed would be mine, in connection with those I loved, in a day to come.

Sister Persis Young came early the next morning, saying that she had been impressed by the Spirit to come and administer to me, and I would be healed; that she could not sleep, and she had come there in obedience to that Spirit. She had been so long under its influence that she shook as though palsied when she laid her hands upon my head with my mother. She rebuked my weakness, and every disease that had been, or was then afflicting me, and commanded me to be made whole, pronouncing health and many other blessings upon me, nearly all of which have been literally fulfilled. From that morning I went about to work as though nothing had been the matter. Thus did the Lord remember one of his unworthy handmaidens and fulfill the promise that had been given by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost.[126]

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 14,
15 December 1885, pp. 105–6

Wednesday the 12th.

Fair weather – the wind still strong from the south-east – We started this morning at 20 minutes past 9 – travelled, as heretofore over a sandy soil, without the occurrence of any particular incident, & halted at ¼ past 1 P. M. to feed, on the banks of the “North Fork” of the Platte River – It is the general opinion, that we passed the junction of the North & South Forks during yesterday’s travel as we noticed a heavy body of timber, which apparently marks the progress to the N. E. of another large stream, a number of miles beyond the one, along which we are now travelling – Our course this forenoon has been about “N. N. W.”, having come 8 miles, according to the piece of mechanism, lately constructed by Appleton Harmon. – It is with considerable satisfaction, that we have at last discovered a mode of telling the distance we travel each day, as hitherto, we have principally relied upon conjecture, through which, we have, no doubt, overrated the distance somewhat, since we left Winter Quarters – at the place where we slept this noon, there are a number of ravines or hollows, in which the grass was quite green & luxuriant – Since writing the above, I learned that Prof. Pratt in his observation yesterday noon, discovered our coming ground of last night, to be 2½ miles above the junction of the 2 “Forks” – He also took an observation this noon – showing that we are in latitude North, 41 deg. 9 minutes 44 seconds, being 10½ miles above the junction – at ½ past 3 we were again in motion; travelled 4 miles & encamped at ¼ to 6 P. M., in a circle, near a bayou that sets back from the river at this place – opposite us is quite a group of islands, which however, afford us no wood, as there is but little growing upon them, except shrubs & low bushes – We have travelled about the same direction we did this forenoon, with the exception that, when we went round a bend in the river, we verged a little to the south-west – the travelling has been very dusty and disagreeable, as the wind has continued strong from the south-east throughout the day – made 12 miles today – The grass is tolerably good here, especially near the brink of the bayou above mentioned – Thomas Brown & Joseph Matthews killed a fine buffalo heifer this afternoon – I have seen no buffalo to-day on the route, & in fact no live game of any kind. – This evening we are about 15 miles above the Junction of the 2 Forks. –

Thursday the 13th.

Cold, gloomy morning, the wind being in the north-east, & the sky overcast with dark heavy clouds. – We started this morning at 9 a.m., travelled along the river on a sandy bottom, (our course being near west,) & stopt to feed, a few rods from the river, near the edge of a ravine, where the grass was very good – having come 4 miles in 2 hours, as we halted at 11 a.m. – I neglected to mention that ½ a mile from last night’s place of encampment, between that & the bluffs to our right, was an old deserted Indian encampment – it had the appearance of their having been here some part of the winter, as well as the Spring – here they had dressed their buffalo skins, &c.,– a number of the brethren found some very good moccasons [sic], which they had here cast off, & substituted new ones – from the formation of them we have no doubt but that it was a Sioux encampment – Bro. Barney Adams found a buffalo skin that had been partly dressed. – We were again in motion at ½ past 12 M., – very dusty, disagreeable travelling – at 4 P. M., we reached the banks of a stream about 30 yds. wide, which, running along under the bluffs in a western direction, makes near here, an abrupt deviation from its course, & runs to the south, emptying into the river about 350 yds. hence – This we forded, after being detained some time on its banks, & encamped at 5 P. M. between it & the river, having made 6¾ miles this afternoon, & 10¾ during the day – Here we found the grass greener & fresher, than we have before seen it since we came into the buffalo country In advance of our camping-place to night about a mile west, is a high range of bluffs, that seem, as well as I can judge at that distance, to come near the waters’ edge – These extend unbroken, far to the right, in the direction, from which we came to-day – Saw a number of buffalo this afternoon, grazing, along the side of the bluff, as we passed along. Porter, Thos. Brown, & a number of others went out in pursuit. They returned this evening, about the time we encamped – they did not kill any of them, as, when they got to them, they found they were so poor, that their flesh would scarcely be fit for use – There is no wood near here, – a number of the brethren brought some with them – those, who did not, were obliged to resort to the only resource for fuel, viz: – “buffalo chips” – The weather has continued cold & gloomy throughout the day, the wind being yet strong from the north-east – we have pursued near a due west course during the whole day. –

Friday the 14th.

Dark & cloudy – wind in the N. E. – has considerably the appearance of rain – about 9 a.m., it commenced raining, & continued, at intervals, till about 2 P. M., – this morning early, 11 buffalo were seen to come down to the river to drink – Bro. John Higbee made 2 shots at them, but secured none. About ½ past 10 a.m. we started on our journey, soon after which, the rain, that had ceased a little while before, poured down with redoubled vigor – Bros. Brigham, Heber, & some others, as usual, preceded us on horseback, to look out the route – after travelling 1 mile, we came to a point, where the bluffs projected boldly over the water’s edge – These we went round, bearing gradually to the south of west – after proceeding 6¼ miles, we stopt to feed at 20 minutes to 2 P. M. just as we emerged from a valley, with high bluffs on either side, & again came in sight of the river, about a 1½ mile distant – Here we found the grass quite good. Started again about 3 P. M, – travelled, along under the bluffs, over an uneven, rugged sandy soil, which was quite hard on our cattle & horses, as the wagon wheels would sink quite deep into the sand – went about 2¼ miles, & encamped in the form of the letter “S” about 4 P. M. There have been 2 buffalo bulls killed to-day – one of them was shot by Amasa Lyman & Thos. Brown, the other by Luke Johnson & Eric Glines & Porter – the latter made the first shot – Neither of them were brought into the camp – the Revenue Cutter started at dusk after one of them 1½ miles from here, but, it being so dark, the men concluded to leave the wagon, & return to the camp on foot, on account of the difficulty of travelling through the sand heaps at night – There were also 3 antelopes & 1 badger killed to-day, which were brought into the camp. Thos. Brown, Phinehas Young, & J. Higbee each killed an antelope, & the latter killed the badger – this evening we are near ½ a mile from the River, which is the nearest water – there is no wood; therefore we are obliged, as usual, to burn buffalo chips. – The stream, near the camping place we left this morning, is the largest tributary, of the North Fork, we have yet seen on our route – Pres’t. Young named it, “North Bluff Fork” – An alarm was raised by the guard during the night, that there were Indians in the vicinity of our camp, – a number of the brethren, myself included, arose & fastened our horses to stakes at the back of the wagons – it proved to be a false alarm – The weather this evening, still cold & gloomy – Made 8¾ miles to-day – It is reported this evening by Brigham, Heber, & those who went ahead, that in a little way from here it is very difficult travelling on account of the sand banks, which are very deep.

a manAlbert P. Rockwood (1805–79), seventy, trusted bodyguard of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, legislator, and prison warden. Courtesy of Church History Library.

Saturday the 15th.

Cold & stormy – the wind in the north – started on our journey at 9 a.m., went about ½ a mile, & began to ascend the bluffs – after winding around among them, alternately ascending & descending large hills or banks of sand which had here been drifted by the wind, we at length again emerged on to the bottom about ¼ of a mile from the river – Here we stopt to feed at 20 minutes to 11 a.m., having come 2½ miles – Here we found the grass greener & higher than any place we have yet seen – in fact, as we advance, the better we find it – It has rained almost incessantly from the time of our starting till the present. – The sand through which we travelled this forenoon, is so very deep, that even in descending a hill it was hard work for the horses to draw the wagons, in some places the wheels sinking nearly to the axle-tree. – I saw Brigham & Heber this morning start ahead on foot, before the foremost wagons, probably to look out the track – at ½ past 12 M. we were again in motion – this afternoon travelled altogether on the bottom, seeing a number of buffalo on the bluffs to our right – we had no rain during the remainder of the day, but the weather continued cold & gloomy, & the north-west blasts howled & swept by us, more resembling a cold day in winter, than one in the genial month of May – We went about 4½ miles & encamped on the bottom in a circle, ¼ of a mile from the River. All the wood we could find, we picked upon the bank of the River, as we passed along – We found plenty of grass at this place – We have, this afternoon pursued a west course, having come 7 miles – The brethren have dug 2 or 3 wells here, which are quite convenient, saving us the necessity otherwise of going to the river – A number of the hunters went out hunting this afternoon – Porter among the rest; who shot a buffalo, returning to the camp about 10 o’clock at night, with the game which the Revenue Cutter brought in –

wooden circlesThe pioneer roadometer. By using this instrument, the pioneers were able to precisely measure distances traveled every day and allowed William Clayton to publish his Latter-day Saints’ Emigrants’ Guide.

Sunday the 16th.

Rather cold this morning, the wind still being in the north – Brigham, Heber, & some others went ahead this morning, on horseback to look out a good track for us to pursue, when we shall start again – they returned about ½ past 12 P. M. with the report that, about 3 miles ahead, the bluffs terminated abruptly at the bank of the river, & that we would be obliged to go around them some 4 miles, before we could again come to the River bottoms – This afternoon we noticed to the north of the camp, about 1 mile on the side of the bluffs, 3 buffalo bulls grazing – Bro. Eric Glines made 4 shots at one of them, all of which hit him – he moved off pretty fast after the 4th shot, but soon his head began to droop, his knee to totter, & then he fell at length upon the ground – Bro. Wm. Clayton & myself, when we saw him fall, went up & took a view of him – he was a very large one – Bro. Luke Johnson & Thomas Grover with the assistance of some others skinned him & took out the entrails – One of the brethren took his brains, which are very good for dressing hides – While Bro. Clayton & myself were out a meeting was held at the camp-ground – Bro. Heber, Dr. Richards, Cols. Markham & Rockwood, I understood were the speakers – The substance of the instruction given was, that if the people expected to be blessed & prospered, they must obey the counsel given to them through the servants of God, & also, that every man should attend meeting at the sound of the horn – Bro. Heber observed, that he would rather the brethren would not hunt on Sundays, unless in case of necessity, but he did not feel disposed to find fault with them – The rules & regulations of the camp, adopted April 16th, were read, & the meeting dismissed – Bro. E. Glines also killed a female antelope today, which on being opened, was discovered to contain 2 young ones nearly grown. Bro. Appleton Harmon finished the piece of mechanism spoken of above to day, by adding one wheel to the apparatus – this he has been to work at, by odd spells, for some time back – we are now able to ascertain the distance of each days’ travel, by referring to our “Rodometeronly once, at the close of the day; while previous to this we have been obliged to notice it at the end of each mile[127] – Porter wounded severely 2 buffalo this afternoon one of which he shot in the shoulder & broke the bone thereof so that he was obliged to limp away on 3 legs. – The latter part of to-day’s transactions I am now writing by the light of a candle, presented to me this evening by Bishop Edson Whipple – It is made of tallow taken out of a buffalo shot by Luke Johnson & Eric Glines day before yesterday – It renders a very clear & beautiful light, & is not at all inferior to our beef tallow candles in brilliancy – This evening it is quite cold, & unpleasant – as the nights usually are –

Monday the 17th.

Cold weather this morning, the wind being in the north-west – This morning, near Pres’t. Young’s wagon, a small stake was planted, in the ground, with a broad plank breadthwise, on one side of which was written the following with red chalk: – “North Fork Letter Box, May 16, 1847. 7½ a.m.” – On the other side – “C. C. Rich & Company, Pioneers.” – Bro. Wm. Clayton also placed one near my wagon, with the following inscription: – “From Winter Quarters, 356¾ miles, May 16, 1847. – From the junction of the Forks of Platte River 41 miles. N. B. – The last 70 miles have been measured, & it is our intention to measure the whole route as far as we go – and as often as circumstances will allow, we shall put up a board with the distance on.” –

At 25 minutes past 8 a.m. we started – proceeded about 1½ miles over the bottom & came to a small rivulet, which runs down from the bluffs, & empties into the river a short distance hence – Here we began gradually to ascend the bluffs, travelling along the brink of the stream a short distance to the north, & then crossing it – after travelling in a winding, circuitious manner over a a [sic] rugged, deep sandy road, we at length, gradually attained the summit of the bluffs, which we here descended abruptly, & once more emerged on to the bottoms, after having come 4 miles – We then passed along under the edge of the bluffs, which are quite broken, with here & there a valley intervening. Passed over 4 small clear rivulets, which apparently having their sources from springs, flow from the bluffs through the valleys above mentioned, & at length find a termination at the river about ½ a mile hence – We proceeded 2¾ miles over a wet quicksand bottom, & stopt to feed at 20 min. to 12 near several little marshes or sloughs, having made 6¾ miles – The ground here is one entire quicksand marsh between us & the river – One of Pres’t. Young’s horses got into the mire, from which he was extricated with some difficulty by the assistance of a rope – Started again at 2 P. M., went ½ a mile & crossed a creek which also runs from the bluffs into the river – proceeded a mile & crossed another creek – still 1½ mile further & crossed another – all making their way from the bluffs to the river: – On the other side the river, opposite this latter stream, the bluffs come boldly to the water’s edge – From this place, we gradually wended our way, from the river towards the bluffs – after having come 10¾ miles since morning, we stopt at 4 P. M., to wait for the Revenue Cutter, which is back some distance, bringing up 2 buffalo & an antelope, killed this forenoon: – one of the former by John Brown the other by Luke Johnson & Joseph Hancock – the antelope was shot by Amasa Lyman. – The Revenue Cutter soon arrived with its freight, which it deposited here, & went back a mile after another buffalo that Porter had killed. – We were detained here about 1 hour, & started on again at 5 P. M., without waiting for the boat – we now bore gradually towards the River about 2 miles, & encamped in a circle about ½ a mile from the same at 6 P. M. – Here we found the grass usually good, but no wood or water – The latter difficulty we soon remedied by digging into the ground about 4 feet, & found plenty of the sparkling liquid – Some of us had brought along a quantity of cedar wood, which we found on the bank of the river yesterday, opposite our last camping place, so that we managed to cook our suppers without much trouble – Saw quite a number of buffalo, antelope, and other small game on our route to-day – we travelled near a west course, having come 12¾ miles. – Opposite our present place of encampment, on the other side the river, is a bold rugged shore, the bluffs for some distance up & down the river projecting over the water’s edge. – Throughout this afternoon the weather has been clear & pleasant, without much wind. –


Tuesday the 18th.

This morning the sun rose cloudless and beautiful – fair prospect of a warm day. – The captains of 10s were called together this morning at Pres’t. Young’s wagon, to receive some instruction. – It was in substance as follows: – That when we are already in possession of plenty of game, we should not kill it needlessly, for it is a sin in the sight of the Lord to waste flesh. – That if the horsemen, (hunters,) would go ahead & assist in seeking out roads, &c., they would be of much more utility to the camp, than in pursuing every antelope or hare that crossed their path. – That there were men among us in responsible stations, who cared no more for the interests of this camp, than the horses which they rode. – That the spirit of the hunters, as now manifested, would lead them to kill all the game within a thousand miles as inconsiderately as the butcher would apply the knife to the throat of a bullock. – Pres’t. Young, after some other remarks pertaining to our duty, dismissed the captains, telling them that they must teach their men by their good example; for the latter would do well enough, if the former would only set them the proper pattern. – Soon after meeting, at ¼ past 8 a.m., we recommenced our journey, Brigham, Heber, & others preceding us on horseback – We travelled over a dry sandy road along the banks of the river for 3¼ miles, & crossed a creek of considerable width, near its mouth – this also comes directly from the bluffs at the north on our right – On the other side the river, (which is about ½ a mile in width at this place,) opposite the mouth of the creek, we noticed a high range of rocky cliffs, which advance to the water’s edge, & extend up & down the river for more than 2 miles – On the sides of these, growing in the sandy crevices of the rocks, are immense numbers of small cedar trees or shrubs. – We proceeded about the same distance, & stopt to bait at 10 minutes past 11 a.m., – near the river, which here makes a considerable curve to the north-west, – which has been our general course this forenoon – having come 6½ miles. – Soon after we arrived, the sky, which before had been quite serene, became overcast with clouds, & a few drops of rain fell accompanied by thunder & lightning. – We again started at 1 P. M., travelled over the bottom along the river, as usual, about 3½ miles, & came to a creek which we crossed near its mouth – proceeded ¾ of a mile further & crossed another, which runs in a winding direction into the river ½ a mile hence – went a little way farther, & stopt at 2 P. M., to wait for some of the teams, which are quite a distance behind – Here we were detained about ½ an hour, when we went on & encamped in a circle at ½ past 5 P. M., having come 9¼ miles this afternoon, & 15¾ miles during the day – We are encamped this evening on a small creek, the banks of which we were obliged to dig down before we forded it being but a little distance from the river – It rained a little at intervals, during the afternoon, & this evening it is cold & cloudy, the wind, which has been from the south west this afternoon, having veered round to the north – we have pursued near a west course this afternoon – I learned this evening from Bro. Wm. Clayton that the 1st streams we crossed this morning, opposite the cedar bluffs above mentioned, (which are thus called in Capt. Fremont’s journal,) was named by Pres’t. Young, “Rattlesnake Creek,” – from the circumstance of one of those reptiles attempting to bite Bro. Wolsey near there, which he afterwards shot. – It is in contemplation by Brigham, Heber, Dr. Richards, O. Pratt, & others to form a map of the route we are now travelling, therefore they wish Bro. Clayton & others keeping journals to be very exact in noting the relative distances between creeks, bluffs, &c.[128]– A meeting of the brethren of the camp was called this evening by Col. Markham, in order to give them some instruction relative to their various duties. – It was voted & carried that at the sound of the horn in the morning 4 or 5 men, at the discretion of the captain, should go out of each 10 to hunt up cattle & horses. – Col. Markham said that a great many of the brethren were so selfish that they would not go out of their way 10 rods, to drive to camp their brother’s cattle or horses, when they could as well do it as not; thus saving him a great deal of needless labor & travel. It was proposed by Pres’t. Young, voted & carried – That if any man should stop his team in the road, without due cause, – thereby detaining the whole camp from proceeding, he with his team should be obliged to travel in the rear of the hindmost wagon the whole day – Pres’t. Young also said that every captain, in travelling should remain with his 10, or if he was obliged to leave, to be gone 5, 10, or 20 minutes or go 20 rods from the wagons, to appoint one to act in his stead during his absence, who should, in all cases, be as implicitly obeyed as if he were the captain himself. – Col. Rockwood observed, that he thought it very ungenteel for a man to stop his team when crossing a stream to water them – thereby hindering the whole camp, & usurping privileges that could not be granted to all. – Pres’t. Young proposed that to-morrow morning, we should start on before breakfast, & travel till we came to a good baiting place as there is but very little grass where we are now encamped – which proposition was seconded & carried unanimously – & the meeting was dismissed. – It is now about 10 o’clock at night, & I am about to close my book & retire to rest, after “summing up” the occurrences of the past day, just as it has commenced a slow drizzly rain, the wind having again changed from the north to the south. –

painting of a landscape with wagonsJean Jensen, Evening in Ash Hollow—1847. Oil on canvas, 24 x 48 inches. Used with permission. Ash Hollow was a rest stop on the Mormon, California, and Oregon Trails.

Wednesday the 19th.

Gloomy, cloudy morning, with but little air stirring – We started at 5 minutes past 5 a.m., – proceeded 2¾ miles, & crossed a creek which issuing from the bluffs, runs into the river ¼ of a mile hence, forming, in its course through the bottom, a number of ponds or sloughs – After going on near ¼ of a mile, we crossed another – we proceeded ¼ of a mile further, & stopt to bait & get breakfast, near the river at 20 minutes past 6 a.m. – having come 3¼ miles – The majority of the wagons have stopt about a ½ a mile back – Soon after we stopt, Heber rode by on his way back to his wagon – he had been ahead alone to look out a road over or around the bluffs, which, ahead a short distance, seem to come to the water’s edge – On the opposite side the river just before we arrived at this place, we again noticed a number of cedar trees growing out of the bank – We found the grass here, but little better than that we left this morning – it rained a little, soon after our arrival – Started again at 20 minutes to 9 a.m., proceeded 1¼ miles, & came to a mountain stream running from a valley between the bluffs into the river – after crossing this, we came to the foot of the bluffs, which we began to ascend – after reaching the summit, we moved on, winding through a narrow defile, with lofty pyramids of sand, towering far above us on either side. – It was with great difficulty that our horses came through, the sand being so deep, that a number of them were stalled in the passage – at length, we began gradually to descend, & reached the bottom again, having come ¾ of a mile over the bluffs, not a great way from the foot of which, we crossed another small creek, & stopt to bait at ½ past 10 a. m., after going a short distance beyond it, having come 6 miles. – It yet continues to rain, & bids fair to last throughout the day. Started again at 10 minutes to 3 P. M., proceeded 2 miles & encamped at 4 P. M., in a semi-circle, fronting the river, having come a west course, making 8 miles to-day – It rained, with little intermission, till evening. –

Thursday the 20th.

Cold, cloudy morning, the wind being in the north-west – We started at 8 a. m., proceeded ¾ of a mile, & crossed a creek, running in a winding direction from the bluffs into the river near here – after travelling 7 miles over a rather wet bottom, caused by the recent rain we stopt to feed on the banks of the river at 11 a.m. – On the other side the river is a high range of bluffs, (with vast quantities of cedar trees growing on their sides,) extending for miles up & down the river. – Immediately opposite us is an opening in the bluffs, of 50 rods in width comprising a vast area of ground, extending back some 4 miles from the river, the extremity of which, as also the 2 sides, being bounded by a lofty range of hills – at this place the “Oregon trail” strikes the North Fork – winding along through the valley from the south it comes to the river, where it makes an abrupt turn to the west, & passes along under the bluffs near the water’s edge – This place is named in Capt. Fremont’s journal, “Ash Hollow.[129] – as there is quite a grove of ash trees growing there – I ascertained the above intelligence from John Brown, who with 3 others, viz: – O. Pratt, Amasa Lyman & Luke Johnson went over in the boat & visited the spot – The former had been there previous to this time, while emigrating to the west with a band of brethren last summer[130] – They brought over with them a branch of the choke-cherry tree, which they there found growing; also a specimen of rock, which is something the nature of soapstone. – We again started at 2 P. M., went 3¼ miles & crossed quite a large tributary of the “North Fork [“], running from the bluffs at the north into the river, near where we forded – it is about 6 rods in width it is named Castle Creek We went on 4¾ miles further, & encamped at ½ past 5 P. M. – in a kind of circle, near to, & opposite a small creek about ¼ of a mile from the river. – Here we found the grass quite good – we picked up plenty of cedar wood for fuel as we passed along the river banks – we have come 8 miles this afternoon, & 15¾ during the day – This evening the weather is still cold & gloomy, the wind being yet in the north-west, & the sky overcast with clouds.

Friday the 21st.

Fine, clear morning, the sun shining brightly above us. – This morning Bro. Wm. Clayton placed a guide post near my wagon, announcing the following, written with red chalk: “From Winter Quarters 409 miles – From the junction of North & South Forks 93¼ miles – Cedar Bluffs (south side the River) 36½ – Ash Hollow (south side the River) 8 – Camp of Pioneers, May 21, 1847. – According to Fremont, this place is 132 miles from Fort Laramie; – Wm. Clayton. N. B. – The Bluffs opposite are named ‘Castle Bluffs.’” – According to my computation, we are 406 miles from Winter Quarters, being 3 miles less than Bro. Clayton’s, as in the first part of our journey, we all depended upon conjecture as to the distance. – We started at 25 minutes to 8 a. m., & travelled over a wet bottom, in sight of, & not a great way from the river, beyond which, as usual, extending to the west as far as the eye could reach, is a lofty range of broken, rocky cliffs, with room sufficient between them & the river for quite a wide path, which is the “Oregon Trail”, mentioned above – we proceeded 7¾ miles & stopt to bait at ½ past 11 a. m., about ½ a mile from the river – Here the grass was quite green & luxuriant, having taken a fresh start, since the recent rains, which have evidently visited this place in great abundance, as almost every little hollow in the ground is full of water. – Porter & Luke Johnson, as we passed along this forenoon, discovered through a spy glass on the opposite side the river, an object which had the appearance of being a horse – Bro. Clayton also looked at it, & supposed it to be one – This noon, a short time after our arrival, Brigham & Heber pursued 5 wolves, 1 old one, & 4 young ones – Heber killed 2 of the latter, 1 with the end of his whip-stock, the other with a bone, Brigham holding him by the tail the while – the remaining 3 made their escape, taking refuge in their hole – At ½ past 2 P. M., we were again in motion – travelled in a N. W. direction over the bottom 4¾ miles & ascended a small bluff or rise of ground, over which we passed ¼ of a mile, & then once more descended to the bottom – went 2¾ miles further, & encamped in a circle ½ a mile from the river at ½ past 5 P. M., making 7¾ this afternoon, & 15½ miles to day – just before we arrived at this place, 1 Indian a squaw (probably Sioux,) rode within 2 or 300 yards of our wagons – they came from the direction of the bluffs at the north – a number of the brethren rode out to them on the prairie – they remained here till we were encamped, & then rode off in the direction whence they came – a man was detailed out of each 10, to go out with a gun and guard the cattle & horses, in obedience to Orders issued by Col. Markham, soon after our arrival. – Bro. Wm. Clayton came very near treading upon a rattlesnake this afternoon, that lay in the path – one of the brethren took it on a stick and threw it some distance from the road, that it might not injure the cattle – there was one killed yesterday, which I neglected to mention. – Bro. Heber yesterday saw a very large wolf, the skin of which, he said he had no doubt, if he had in the eastern country, he could sell for 10 dollars. Our general course to-day has been a little north of west. – This evening Orson and myself used the last of our first bag of flour – During our travel this afternoon, one of the brethren picked up a large bone in a state of petrification – It was generally believed to belong to some animal of the mammoth species.[131] – Latitude this noon 41 deg. 24 m. 5s.

Saturday the 22d.

Pleasant morning, & warm wind from the south. – We started at 8 a.m., & travelled near a W. course, occasionally winding alternately to the bluffs & river, & came to a stream called Crab creek, about 2 rods in width, with a quicksand bottom, running from the bluffs at the north south into the river; this we forded near its mouth, after coming 5½ miles this morning – Just after we crossed this creek, we saw a strange dog, a little way from the road, which we suppose belongs to the Indians – We proceeded 1¾ miles, & stopt to bait at ½ past 11 a.m., ½ a mile from the river, having made 7¼ miles. – Nearly opposite us, on the other side the river, growing on the summit of the bluffs, is quite a large number of cedar trees, interspersed here & there, extending a number of miles up the river. – We found the grass here tolerably good, being a mixture of dry & green – While we were here, Porter rode in on horseback & said that from the summit of a bluff to our right could be seen in the distance, on the other side the river, a towering precipice called “Chimney Rock” – Bro. Clayton took his spy-glass & went to take a view of it. We started again at 20 minutes to 2 P. M., went 4½ miles over an uneven bottom, & began to wind around the Bluffs gradually ascending at the same time through a hollow, while the summits of still higher sandcliffs towered far above our heads on either side – after travelling about 2¼ miles we again came to the bottom – While passing along through this place, we noticed numerous sand beds which apparently marked the former progress of mighty rushing torrents, descending from the hills above to the river below – these vary from 3 to 6 rods in width. A number of bones of different animals in a state of petrification were picked up this afternoon by the brethren – after reaching the bottom we found the grass quite good, while previous to this, the ground over which we had travelled this afternoon, was a dreary, barren waste – we proceeded & encamped in a circle, near the river, at ¼ to 6 P. M. – having come 8¼ this afternoon, & 15½ miles during the day, & 83¼ miles during the past week – Just as we arrived at this place it began to rain accompanied by considerable wind, which however did not last a great while – Our course has been near west, this afternoon – Wind this evening in the N. E. – a young gray eagle was taken from its nest in a cedar tree near the summit of one of the bluffs, Just before we arrived at this place – George R. Grant caught it – it measured 46 inches, with its wings extended, from one extremity to the other. – This evening, soon after our arrival, Bros. Wm. Clayton, John Pack & myself took a walk to view a high range of broken, detached bluffs, that lie to the north-east of us about a mile – The first one we visited, we had considerable difficulty in ascending, having to assist each other in reaching the summit which we at length attained nearly out of breath – From this point we could command a view of the whole country, for many miles up & down the river – In the distance to the south-west, we could distinctly see some 20 miles distant, Chimney Rock, towering far above the surrounding hills & valleys – Beneath us in front, (from the summit to the base of the cliff being about 60 feet,) the bottom gradually sloped to the waters edge about 1 mile distant – The scene to us was truly one of magnificence & grandeur, & almost baffles description – The clay of which the cliff was formed, had become almost as hard as adamant on the top owing to the climate, winds, the ravages of rains, & old Father Time, while on the sides hung bouncy[?], large fragments that had detached themselves from the crags above, & fallen partly down, & some entirely to the base – We noticed also large clefts, in one of which an eagle, or some other large bird of prey, had built its nest – at the rear of us were numerous hills & valleys of different sizes & forms – The whole scene, was one of romantic solitude, & inspired me with singular feelings, & reminding me forcibly of the descriptions I had read in my boyish days, of the fortified castles & watch-towers of the olden time – We had an opportunity of viewing it to the greatest advantage, as the setting sun, throwing its lengthening rays upon hill, dale, mound & river, made the sight inexpressibly grand & solemn – after remaining here a few minutes we descended at the west end, (the same place where we got up,) & went to another bluff, ¼ a mile distant with a valley intervening – This we ascended also on the western side, with considerable difficulty, & found it still more remarkable than the other, being still 30 feet higher, making 90 feet from the summit to the base, & about 200 feet above the level of the river – The top is somewhat oval in spots, in others rather flat, & is sufficiently large to admit of 30 persons to sit & dine with ease. – We observed some very singular plants & shrubs growing there, that we had never before seen – at the eastern extremity is quite a large cedar tree, near a foot in diameter – We plucked some of the former, & also a branch of the latter, which we brought with us to the camp – We also noticed the vestiges of horses, which had been here not long since, probably owing to some of the Indians having visited the spot on horseback, which is accessible on the eastern side, by pursuing a winding direction – after being absent about an hour, we returned to the camp a little after sunset, having been much interested, & well paid for our trouble in exploring the spot which was named by Pres’t Young, “Bluff Ruins.” –

land with indiansFrederic Remington, Indians Reconnoitering from a Mountain-top. Although their movements were scouted out by both the Pawnee and the Sioux, the Mormon vanguard company was never attacked by either tribe.
Harper’s Magazine, November 1898. Wyoming State Archives.

rocks and a snakePrairie rattlesnake. Although the vanguard company encountered hundreds of these reptiles, no one died from snakebite. Wyoming State Archives.

Sunday the 23d.

Tolerably pleasant, with a warm breeze from the south – This morning, Brigham, Heber, & others went to take a view of the bluffs, & the surrounding scenery. – Bro. Nathaniel Fairbanks, while on his return from the spot, was bitten on the leg by a rattlesnake – He managed to walk to the camp, about a mile, without assistance or remedy. Bro. Luke Johnson administered to him a dose of Lobelia, which soon caused him to vomit – Tobacco was also applied to the spot bitten, & hands were laid on him by a number of the brethren, when he seemed to be much relieved – This was the first case of the kind I had ever seen. – Bro. F. told me that he had not been bitten more than 3 minutes before he felt a pricking sensation in his mouth & hands, & a kind of numbness, (or torpidity) pervading his whole system – a meeting was held near Prest. Young’s wagon, commencing at 11 o’clock A.M., The horses were all previously brought in, & staked in the circle, & outside near the wagons – Pres’t Young opened the meeting by prayer, & Bro. Erastus Snow arose & spoke at some length of the great works we might accomplish, by persevering with faith and fortitude that which we had sat out to do – Pres’t. Young arose & said that Bro. Snow had spoken to give him a chance to rest, as he was quite tired with his trip to the Bluffs – He then proceeded to give us various instructions with regard to our duties; said that he was satisfied with the conduct of this camp, but still there was a chance for improvement, & he hoped that the brethren would not indulge in profane language, but on the contrary, keep the name of the Lord sacred, & bow before him in prayer, morning & evening. – Many other things he said, of interest to us all, & the meeting, after some others of the brethren had spoken, was dismissed about 2 P. M. – about 5 P. M. – it began to blow very hard from the north, & the sky, which had for some time begun to be overcast with clouds, had considerably the appearance of rain – it commenced to rain very hard, just before dark & continued till ½ past 9 P. M. The wind blew a perfect hurricane from the north-west nearly all night – Bro. Fairbanks is a little better this evening.

Monday the 24th.

Cloudy & cold, the wind still strong from the north-west – This morning Dr. Richards put up a small post with a board attached, on one side of which was written, – “Ancient Bluffs ‘Ruins’ Post Office, Pioneers, May 22, 23, 24, 1847.” – On the other side – “456¾ miles from Winter Quarters.” – On one edge was written, “Letter Box”, on the other, “W. R.”, & “G. B. C.” – We started at ½ past 8 A.M., travelled a N. W. course over a bottom somewhat wet in places, owing to the late rains, & stopt at ¼ to 1 P. M., near the river to bait, having come 10 miles. – On the other side the river, some miles above, is a large mass of rock, oval in form, situated on an elevated range of small hills – it has a solitary appearance indeed, standing some distance from any peak as high as itself – On the top is a small object, resembling in form, the cupola of a church steeple. A short distance to the left of this mass is another, considerably inferior in size, & of an entirely different appearance, resembling somewhat, in my ideas, an Egyptian pyramid – From this place is also visible in the distance, Chimney Rock. There were 2 Indians in camp this noon, though I did not see them – At 3 P. M., we again started; proceeded 5¼ miles and came opposite to the lone mass of rock, first mentioned above – Just before this one of my horses, (the mare,) “gave out” & we stopt to rest – Bro. Pack, Hancock with their wagons & Captain Tanner with the cannon also stopt – I went ahead some distance on foot, to get the remainder of the wagons to halt, as we had for some time noticed a party of Indians travelling up the river on the opposite shore – The camp moved 1¼ mile further, & encamped in a circle ½ a mile from the River, at 6 P. M. having made 6½ miles this afternoon, & 16½ during the day. – Orson pursued near a W. course this afternoon. drove up with our wagon, soon after the rest of the wagons were arranged in a circle. – The Indians when they saw us encamping, halted a few minutes on the opposite banks of the river, as if in consultation, & then one by one began to cross the river in single file – after all getting over, (the number being 35, men, women and children,) they went up the river a piece and halted – Pres’t. Young commissioned Col. Rockwood & Father Sherwood to go & see them, to converse with them where they were & find out if they had any thing they wished to exchange in trade – The two soon returned, accompanied by 2 chiefs, & 2 other Indians – they had a U. S. flag with them – they went through the exercise of cannonading in their presence, which pleased them very much – a number of others soon after came into the camp – The horses were all laryetied out, & a guard placed to watch them till 10 o’clock, as a number of them had given out on account of to-day’s travel. The Indians are encamped within ¼ of a mile of us, & the old chief with his squaw are to remain near our camp, in a tent provided for them – There was considerable provision of different kinds given to them by the brethren, as that was what they seemed most to stand in need of – I have heard of no trades effected with them, except one, & that was John Higbee’s exchanging horses with one of them – Orson is on guard this evening, watching the horses, as we have ours laryetied out with the rest. – Tolerably cool air this evening. –[132]

american Indian on a horseUnidentified Indian on horseback. Wyoming State Archives.

Tuesday the 25th.

Beautiful morning; the sun rose bright & clear – fair prospect of a warm day, though a severe frost last night – we started at 10 minutes past 8 A.M., – about the same time the Indians, who had been round the camp during the morning, recrossed the river – there were some very fine looking men & women among them, & they were all apparently arrayed in their best garments, as if for a visit – a number of the brethren made trades with them, exchanging meal for buffalo robes, &c.– One of them followed us a little way, & exchanged his horse for a mule with Col. Markham – We passed over a small ridge, & came to the bottom near the river where we stopt to feed at ½ past 9 a.m., – having come 2½ miles – We found the grass here quite good – the reason of our halting so early, as a number of horses were almost spent with yesterday’s travel – At 11 a.m. we were again in motion – travelled over a flat, wet bottom, very little elevated above the banks of the river – went 4¾ miles & again halted to bait at ½ past 1 P. M. near a slough or marsh, about ½ a mile from the river – on the opposite side the river is a high broken range of bluffs, & apparently not more than 4 miles distant to the S. W. we can distinguish Chimney Rock, which appears from here similar to a church steeple – this is encompassed on all sides by bluffs & crags of different sizes & forms, presenting a beautiful & grand appearance – we have pursued near a W. course, having come 7¼ miles – a few minutes after we had halted Porter rode up with an antelope before him on his horse, which he had killed this forenoon – we moved on again at 3 P. M., travelled W. 4¾ miles over an uneven, wet soil, & encamped in a circle at 10 minutes to 6 P. M., 1½ or 2 miles from the river, having come 12 miles to-day – Here the ground was quite wet & marshy, as it is almost as low as the river itself, although the grass is very good in places – The weather throughout the day has been warm and sultry, – The brethren dug a number of wells each about 4 feet deep, soon after our arrival at this place. – Bro. Fairbanks is slowly recovering, though his leg is yet considerably swollen – the Indian dog, spoken of as being first seen on Saturday morning, still continues to follow the camp, & is getting quite domesticated, as I saw him lying near the wagons this evening – Latitude this noon, 41° – 41 m. 46 s.

rock formationsMormon Trail—Chimney Rock. Lithograph by Piercy, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley. Church History Library.

Wednesday the 26th.

Pleasant morning, & cool breeze from the north-west – We continued our journey at 8 a. m. travelling W. N. W., as usual, over a low, wet sandy bottom & stopt at 12 M., to bait, about 1 mile from the river having come 7¼ miles – Here we found a beautiful plat of green grass, the discovery of which we hailed with considerable satisfaction. – Bro. O. Pratt took an observation last evening to ascertain the distance between our camp & Chimney Rock – He also took one this forenoon, when we got opposite, to the north of it; though I believe, as yet, he has made the calculation of the distance for neither – We are now able to take a more conspicuous & correct view of Chimney Rock than we were yesterday – It is situated on a small eminence, gradually sloping to the water’s edge – It is formed of clay, & not of rock as I supposed, & the base or foundation, on which stands the object appearing like a Church steeple spoken of above, considerably resembles in shape a volcano – The bluffs & crags in the background are much loftier than itself – We again started at 25 m. past 2 P. M., proceeded about the same direction we did this forenoon, over a wet bottom abounding with green grass – travelled 5 miles & encamped at 5 P. M., on the banks of the river, opposite a high broken range of bluffs & crags of different shapes & sizes, resembling in majestic grandeur those we have lately passed – Latitude this noon, – 41 deg., 45 min. 58 sec. – I learned this evening, that Professor O. Pratt, in his trigonometrical observation at 12 M., ascertained the distance from Chimney Rock, from the nearest point at which we passed it to the north, to be 3 miles – the altitude of the same 260 feet – The sky this evening is somewhat overcast with clouds, the wind being about W. There were 4 antelope killed to-day by the following hunters: – John Brown, 1 – Joseph Hancock, 1 – Porter – 2 – By request of Bro. Heber, I took a walk with him this evening out on the prairie near half a mile – Here we knelt down, & each prayed alternately for our friends & relatives, whom we have left behind in Winter Quarters, & also for one another, & the Saints at large – after an absence of about ½ hour we returned to the camp. Bro. Heber had been all day riding in advance of the camp, searching out roads &c.– He attempted to find one over the bluffs, in which he said had he succeeded, we would have been 3 miles ahead of our present camping place as that route would be much nearer than the one we pursued, had it been practicable – It rained a little at sunset. –

rock formation

The above is a representation of Chimney Rock, as described above, the summit of which was distinctly seen by us at the distance of 42 miles, as we were approaching it from the east.[133]

[Editor’s Note: Meanwhile, back at Winter Quarters, Helen’s reminiscences reveal the difficulties they experienced on their own trek after leaving Winter Quarters:]

My mother’s and Sarah’s babies which were so peculiarly operated upon by the destroyer continued sick from that time, and it seemed as if death was determined to claim one or both. Sarah Ann’s appeared the worst some of the time, and then it would be my mother’s, and the witnessing the young mother’s grief, who plainly saw her infant failing day by day, so touched my mother’s tender heart that she made up her mind to make an offering of her own little darling inasmuch as the Lord required one of them, praying as she made the sacrifice, that He in His tender mercy, if it would be acceptable in His sight might take hers and spare Sarah’s. Did this not mark her as one of the elect of God, who fought manfully against the flesh, the world and the devil?

In those scenes we were supplied with that spiritual armor necessary to sustain the combat with the inveterate and subtle foe, whose power and devices were being made manifest in our midst. From the moment that my mother made this offering her babe began to improve, and only a few days before another pure spirit had taken its flight from this sorrowing vale of tears, and another doting heart was almost broken as she followed its little body to that lonely spot on the hillside which had been dedicated as a burying place for the dead. There weary pilgrims could rest for a season, and the dear little innocents, whose spirits ascended up to the Father, bearing record of the inhumanity and wrong which had been met with in this world by those who rendered obedience to the truths revealed by the blessed redeemer for the salvation of the human family, and had been driven from their homes in the bleak month of February 1846 to suffer in the wilderness in so cruel and heartless a manner. The sweet comforter was still with us, and from that date the destroyer was stayed in our house.

Among the marvelous instances of faith which I witnessed, was in the family of Bro. Lyman Whitney, a brother of the bishop. Lyman was then at work in the state of Missouri. One of his babes—its mother being his second wife—was lying sick unto death. She told us that it had not swallowed anything for two days, and its eyes were dried up so that it had not been able to close them for some time. My mother, Mother Whitney, Sarah Ann, Sister Presendia, myself and one or two more, were called to go and administer to the sick babe. Sister Presendia first moistened its eyes with milk and water, then it was washed and anointed, and as many as could, laid hands upon it, and all of us unitedly raised our hearts to God in its behalf, Presendia being mouth. We had no sooner said amen, than it opened its eyes and began to wink and look around, and soon after it took nourishment. The mother and her sister who were living together, were both charged to watch it closely and not leave it alone for a moment, or the destroyer would grasp it. They watched it faithfully through the rest of the day and during that night, but as it appeared so much better in the morning, they, not realizing how the destroyer was lying in wait for it, left it sleeping in its cradle long enough to go into an adjoining room to breakfast. When the mother returned she found it struggling in the arms of death. Then she fully realized the meaning of the words of warning which had been spoken by the spirit and power of the Holy Ghost.[134]

I remember instances wherein the evil one entered persons that were not sufficiently posted—not having had enough experience to be able to distinguish the difference between the operations of the two spirits—good and evil. There are those living—sister E. B. Wells being one of the number—who will readily testify to these statements. The following I heard from Sisters Presendia, Laura Christine, Sarah Lawrence Kimball and others. The circumstance transpired one evening at the house of Sister Miller, whose name is now Finch, where a meeting was being held. A few sisters who came had not been present at any of the previous meetings; and two or three of them it was said, had made light of them, and the gift of tongues, etc., which the sisters testified they had frequently enjoyed with a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Satan, it seems, came also, and they aver that his face and shoulders were plainly visible through the window. They not only saw him, but heard his awful footsteps as he walked around the outside of the house, after which there were individuals attacked, and the power was so terrible, that it was only by mighty faith and the power of the priesthood that the destroyer was rebuked from their midst. At his first appearance, some who had never before witnessed a conflict with the evil spirits, as may naturally be supposed, were frightened nearly out of their wits, at the sight of his highness, and they took a sudden unceremonious leave while the strong and valiant held the ground, till the victory was gained, and the evil one cast out. From this circumstance went forth a false rumor concerning the meetings of the sisters, started by those who, not having mingled before with them, pronounced it all from the devil.

At an evening meeting held at my mother’s, one of the sisters, who had met with us but little, feeling the spirit resting upon her to speak in tongues, arose and began talking—at first very quietly. In a moment her voice changed, as did also her countenance, and her movements were such that there was no mistaking the spirit which was operating upon her. Two or three who were present had the gift of interpretation, and they said with one accord that she uttered nothing but the most wicked blasphemy. But this lasted only an instant as sister Laura Pitkin , who came into the church at the beginning, arose and took hold of her arm, and in a quiet but commanding tone bade her sit down. She dropped into her chair as suddenly as though she had received a blow, and covering her face with her hands groaned aloud, as though realizing what she had done. No one spoke or moved, and in a moment after she arose and left the room. From that she felt so humiliated, and crushed in spirit, that she could not be induced to again rise to speak in a meeting.

Many were the manifestations that were had from above and beneath, which were similar to what the Prophet had witnessed, but which previous to that time, I had taken but little notice of. Joseph said that the devil could talk in any tongue and that he could appear like a gentleman, or in any form he pleased. Also that no one would ever enter into the celestial kingdom without having to meet and combat with that power, either in the flesh or after they had passed out of it, and that his forces would be strengthened and increased just in proportion to the progress that was being made by his opponents. This is easily enough understood by Latter-day Saints, or by anyone who has undertaken a reformation or to accomplish a victory in the right direction.

The slight experience that I gained at that early period gave me a little insight, though in a very small degree, into the workings of the two powers. Afterwards when I was out from under that spiritual or heavenly influence, I made this expression, that I wanted no more light or spiritual manifestations, for fear I should have to meet the prince of darkness. But I had to meet him, a year or so from that date, and I went through a schooling that brought conviction, and impressed indelibly upon my heart the truth of this work, and that Satan, with all his power and cunning, was a deceiver; also that our thoughts were unknown to him only as we uttered them, and therefore we had the advantage over him, when wise enough to keep silent, and we could pray to the Father in our hearts, who was all powerful, and able to read the thoughts and desires of His children.

The experience had at Winter Quarters taught me that it was only through obedience and great humiliation, more especially through fasting and prayer, that we could obtain any great manifestations from on high, or the power to enable us to overcome the adversary.

Could we as a people, lay aside the world, and bring our own evil natures into subjection to that spirit, which would make us of one heart and one mind, and valiant to do all that is required of the Saints of God. I know that we would not be long as we are now, bending under the yoke of oppression, but would soon become that people whom we have been told from the beginning, should be honored, not only by the noble, but by the Great Lawgiver of the whole earth.

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 15,
1 January 1886, p. 118

I have barely touched upon the scenes that came under my notice during the absence of the pioneers, but am able to testify to the enjoyment of many happy seasons after the mighty struggle with the destroyer was over, and we were again in the enjoyment of health, a blessing that some could appreciate more fully than myself. Some of the little circle that met often one with another to obtain that solace which the comforter alone could give, have passed on to another state, leaving one here and another there to testify to the outpourings of the Holy Spirit that sustained and cheered them during those trying scenes.

Two are still remaining in the family of the late brother John Pack—Sisters Julia and Ruth, who will bear witness to these things, and that there were no repinings such as we read were indulged in by the children of Israel. We could say with one accord as did the prophet Job, though reduced in worldly circumstances or reproached and cut off because of our seeming wickedness, yet in the midst of all our sore calamities we were buoyed up with a holy hope, and were confident of a glorious reward from Him who is the searcher of all hearts and has promised that the meek shall inherit the earth.

The unbeliever may scoff but we know that it was the Holy Spirit—the Comforter, and that faith born of it, that sustained and buoyed up the drooping spirits and lightened the cares and toils of the weary under the varied and trying circumstances that were calculated to dishearten any but Latter-day Saints, who possessed that living faith that enabled the soul to look forward to a glorious future, trusting to that Mighty One whose power had preserved and led them thus far and had delivered them “out of the seventh trouble.”

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 18,
15 February 1886, p. 138

Thursday the 27th.

Warm & pleasant. – We started at 8 a.m., & proceeded over a level bottom in a W. N. W. direction, & stopt at ¼ to 12 M. on the banks of the river having made 8 miles – The ground over which we have travelled this forenoon, abounded in green grass. – Porter killed 2 antelope this forenoon Amasa 1, which were brought into camp soon after our arrival – To the W. S. W. of our present stopping place there is another high range of broken detached bluffs, at the extreme right of which, is a large, high mass of crags, thrown together as if by some convulsion of nature, resembling in form the old battlemented castles we read of, of the olden times. – We were again in motion at 2 P. M., took the same course we did this forenoon, travelling over a tolerably dry bottom, & passed the craggy precipice referred to above, which, coming boldly to the water’s edge, rears its lofty summit near 300 feet above the same – The top & sides thereof abound in numerous cedar trees & shrubs – We encamped to the N. W. of it some 2 or 3 miles, on the banks of the river, forming in a circle, as usual – at ¼ to 5 P. M., having come 5¾ miles this afternoon, & 13¾ during the day – There we found the grass plenty & luxuriant, as it has been on the ground over which we have travelled to-day. – At this place the river makes an abrupt turn in its course, to the north, so that our camp, this evening, is situated in a bend of the same. An antelope was shot this afternoon by John W. Norton , which, on opening, was discovered to contain 2 young ones. The sky this evening, is considerably overcast with clouds, which have every appearance of rain, the wind being N. E. The last bluff spoken of, is the termination at the river of the range of them called “Scott’s Bluffs.”[135] – Latitude at this point, 41° – 50 m. 52s. – I learned this evening, that at the place where we encamped last night, the width of the river is 792 yds, as ascertained by an observation of Professor O. Pratt. Rained a little this evening about at dusk. –

Friday the 28th.

Cloudy & misty this morning, with a slight, drizzly rain. – The brethren were called together soon after breakfast, & a vote taken, whether we should immediately proceed on our journey, or wait till the rain should cease – The former alternative was adopted. – We started at 11 a.m., although it had not cleared off, proceeded 1 mile & came to the mouth of a small clear rivulet in some places 2 rods in width, with a gravel bottom, flowing from the N. N. W., which course we pursued about 4 miles & came to the source of it which is a spring – Brigham, Heber, & some other including myself, walked for some distance along its banks, – we observed numerous schools of fish in it of different kinds – there is a number of beaver dams across it, & also houses that these animals have built on its brink. – We also noticed the vestiges of camp fires, probably made by Indians We had been gradually nearing the bluffs; we now, however, commenced travelling towards the river, going a little south of west, over a bottom, covered with alternate patches of green & dry grass. – We encamped on the banks of the river, in a circle at ¼ to 5 P. M., having come 11½ miles to-day The grass here is not as good as usual – The weather cold & cloudy this evening, the wind being in the N. E. –

Saturday the 29th.

The clouds dark & lowering, with a drizzly rain, similar to that of yesterday morning. – The horn was blown about ½ past 10 a.m., for the brethren to get up their cattle, & horses, as it had some what the appearance of clearing off fair – Some of them had wandered a considerable distance, so that as much as an hour elapsed, before they could be bro’t to the camp, & put before the wagons – after which the brethren in the camp were called together, & Pres’t Young arose and first told the captains of 10s to call their respective companies around them, which was done, & Thomas Bullock, the clerk proceeded to call the roll. – and found 2 absent, who had gone out hunting this morning, viz. – Joseph Hancock & Andrew Gibbons . – The President then said, – “I will take this for my text: I shall revolt at the idea of going with this company any further with the spirit that they now possess. From this I shall make my discourse.” – He then proceeded to say that the practices, some of the members of this camp had indulged in for a few days past, would ultimately lead them to ruin & death, viz: – playing at cards, dominoes, checkers, dancing, levity, &c.– That these recreations were no harm within, & of themselves, if the people just knew when to stop, & break off immediately, & when they retired to their beds, not forget to bow before the Lord & thank him for the privilege of dancing – That by & by, they would get to playing at cards, one would accuse the other of cheating, then the next thing would be a knock down, & from thence would draw weapons on each other, & shed blood – such, he said, were the inevitable consequences of such a course, if not checked in the bud.[136] – That the Devil knew better than to go so far as to make a man deny the Priesthood in this camp, but was content to make him commit these lesser offences, that would make him forget God, & finally lead to that result. – He then called for a division of the camp, that is, for the Quorums of the Twelve, High Priests, Seventies, elders & members, to form in a body by themselves – He then exhorted them separately to the observance of their duties, & called upon them all to covenant to desist from trivial & bad practices, & to serve faithfully the Lord with their whole hearts, which they did unanimously by raising their right hands. – He then moved that to-morrow be a day devoted to fasting & prayer to be conducted by the Bishops, as himself with his brethren the Twelve & some other wished to retire apart by themselves – after he had ended, Heber, Bros O. Pratt, W. Woodruff, & Col. Markham each spoke a few minutes in confirmation of what had been said, & the meeting was dismissed.[137] There were present of the Quorum of the Twelve 8 – High Priests 18 – Seventies 78 – Elders 8 – besides the members. The meeting lasted near 2 hours. – We started at ½ past 1 P. M. – travelled in a S. S. W. direction over rather an uneven bottom, & encamped in a circle at ½ past 5 P. M. on the banks of a small creek, running parallel with the river, about ¼ of a mile from the same – having come 8½ miles to-day. – Just before we arrived here, we noticed a number of cotton-wood trees growing on an island opposite, being the first timber we have seen for a long time – Here we found the grass tolerably good. – It commenced raining about ½ past 4 P. M., & continued near 2 hours.

wagons going over rocksWilliam H. Jackson, Mitchell Pass at Scotts Bluff. Jackson drove his own ox team across the western United States in 1866, making sketches like this along the way. Bretney Collection, Wyoming State Archives.

Tonight the clouds are dark & lowering, & have the appearance of more rain. – We have come 74½ miles during the past week, & are 511½ miles from Winter Quarters this evening.

Sunday the 30th.

Cloudy morning, though not very cold. – Agreeably to the arrangements of yesterday, a fast & prayer meeting was held this forenoon, commencing at ½ past 8 a.m. & lasting till ½ past 10 a.m. – The time was chiefly occupied in confessions & prayer. – The meeting was held under the supervision of the Bishops, the Twelve not being present. – After this, the horses were all drove in to camp & fastened some inside, others outside the circle, & the brethren again repaired to meeting, which commenced at 20 minutes past 12 M. – A number of the brethren arose & addressed the congregation, relating their past experience, confessing their sins, &c., after which the sacrament was administered & the meeting was dismissed at ½ past 1 P. M., as it began, about this time, to rain. – The Twelve were not present this afternoon, having retired, with some others, by themselves to counsel.[138] – The rain did not last long, for it soon cleared off fair, with a fine breeze from the N. W., & continued so the remainder of the day. On the opposite side the river, are a number of small hillocks, situated on the sides & summits of the bluffs, which, the sun throwing his glancing rays athwart them, appear from here like buildings composing a large village. – It again rained a little this evening about dark.

Monday the 31st.

Fine, clear morning, with a slight breeze from the west. – quite a heavy frost last night. – We continued our journey this morning at ½ past 8, & travelled along near the bluffs, (which are principally composed of huge sandbanks,) in a W. N. W. direction, over an uneven, rugged, sandy road, in some places almost entirely destitute of vegetation, noticing, during our route, numerous cotton-wood trees growing on the opposite side the river. – After going about 8 miles, we changed our course to a little south of west towards the river & halted to bait at ½ past 12 M., about 1 mile from the same, on the edge of the upper shelf of table of the bottoms (the lower one, having been recently burned over, affording plenty of green grass,) having come 9½ miles. We again started at 3 P. M.; proceeded near the same course we did this forenoon, over a deep, sandy bottom, which made it very hard pulling for our horses and cattle: we travelled 7¼ miles, & encamped in 2 lines at ¼ to 7 P. M., on a creek, in some places 2 rods in width, which runs from the hills above in a S. E. direction into the river, from which we are about a mile distant. – This stream has a sandy bottom, & high banks on either side for some distance. – We passed by a number of green & dry cottonwood trees this afternoon, being the first we have seen this side the river for some time since. – John Higbee killed a deer (buck) this afternoon. – The place where we are now encamped is almost a barren, sandy desert, with here & there a few, scant tufts of grass, thus affording a very poor chance for horses & cattle, which were mostly laryated, or turned out loose during the night. Latitude this noon, – 42° – 04 min. – 30 sec. – The distance we have travelled to day is 16¾ miles. –

Tuesday the 1st of June.

Beautiful morning, the sun rose cloudless & beautiful. – We started this morning at 9 still travelling over a desert, sandy road, & pursuing a W. N. W. course – we stopt at 11 a.m., near the river to bait, having come 4½ miles. – There is a little ravine here, into which we turned our horses, as the grass in it is quite green & luxuriant. – We again started at 1 P. M. travelling over nearly the same kind of ground, interspersed here & there with shrubs, & encamped in a semi-circle at ¼ past 6 P. M., on the banks of the river, opposite Fort Laramie having come 12 miles – This is situated in an extensive valley, apparently 1½ mile from the river, environed on all sides except that next the river by a lofty range of bluffs, while in the distance can be seen to the S. west, the dusky outlines of the “Black Hills,” towering far above the surrounding scenery. – Not having visited the Fort, I am not able at this time to give a description of it, but Porter who went over & returned this evening, says that it is built in an oblong shape, of dirt, & surrounded by a wall, being connected therewith on the inside – there are here at this time 18 men composing the inhabitants, mostly Frenchmen – On the opposite bank of the river, is a square or oblong built edifice, formed of dirt, for what purpose I know not, though some think it was intended for a yard to keep horses in – at this place the river is divided into 2 branches, one running each side the fort in an eastern direction – the one running on the south side is called the Laramie Fork of the Platte. – Just as we arrived here, 2 brethren came from the Fort to visit us – they had come here from Pueblo 2 weeks since – they had been, (3 families of them,) 15 days on the journey, having come with ox teams, a distance of 257 miles.[139] – the brethren also informed us that some travelers, who arrived here about a week ago from “Sweet Water”, said that the snow in that region was 2 feet deep 12 days since, & on the mountains, in places, 15 feet deep – they had come through in 6 days, being obliged to leave their wagons behind, & come ahead on horses, the road being entirely blocked up and rendered impracticable by the snow at that place – They further told us that the soldier brethren at Pueblo, who went there as invalids had mostly recovered from their sickness, & were intending to start from there the 1st of June, to come to this place, join our body, & proceed on the journey with us to the west. – The brethren spoken of above, are Robt. [Robert] Crow, & his son-in-law, whose name I did not learn – they had managed to winter their cattle on dry grass at Pueblo, although they had plenty of corn stalks, which they had on their hands this spring, the former being in good condition at the time.[140] – about 3 weeks ago, a band of Crow Indians, came to the Fort, & took all the horses away belonging to the inhabitants – this was done in the day-time immediately before the eyes of the guard they had watch at the time, who of course could not resist them, they being so numerous. These excursions they are in the habit of making every Spring. – This tribe, I am informed, altho’ a roving tribe, generally inhabit the country adjacent Sweet Water. – Pres’t Young called the captains of 10s together this evening, to impart to them the nature of the business to-morrow, which was, that 2 men should be selected out of each 10, to act as a standing guard, to watch the cattle, &c. while we remain here – that every wagon should be overhauled, & things that were superfluous taken out of them, such as old iron, ploughs, &c., as he thought that 10 of the latter would be a sufficient number for the whole company, also some wagons are to be left behind. – He himself the Twelve & some others is going over the river to-morrow to make arrangements about getting a flat boat for us to cross with, as they have one here – Some of the brethren are intending to-commence burning a coal pit to-morrow. – I stood on guard to-night the last watch, from 12 o’clock till daylight, in Bro. Fairbank’s place, who has not yet entirely recovered, altho’ he is gradually gaining his health – at the place where we are now encamped, are a number of large ash trees growing on the banks of the river. – about midway of one of these, we noticed this evening the body or corpse on an Indian infant, closely enveloped in a buffalo robe, placed between two large boughs or branches, & lashed firmly to the same with thongs of raw-hide – This, I am informed is the mode of burial, peculiar to some tribes, the body being thus secured from the attack of wild beasts. We found wood in abundance at this place: as it is growing on all sides – A band of Crow Indians are daily expected here who are coming in with pottery, furs, &c.– By my computation, the distance between us & Winter Quarters, is 540¼ miles. –

In the early part of June a merchant, Amos Davis, brother of Daniel Davis, and Mr. Kimball, brother to the late John Kimball of Salt Lake, arrived from Nauvoo with goods and groceries and the best of wines, liquors, etc. My mother rented them her dining room for a store, and boarded them. This was an opening as unlooked for as if manna had rained down from heaven.

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 10,
15 October 1885, p. 78

Wednesday the 2d.

Pleasant morning, & bids fair to be a warm day. – The Twelve & some others went over the river this morning to make arrangements to procure the ferry boat. – Thomas Brown, Orson & F. Pomeroy went out of our 10 to guard cattle this forenoon, & I alone this afternoon, Orson having gone over to the Fort. – While out, I noticed an ash tree, containing the body of another Indian infant, this, being enveloped in a buffalo robe, rested on a piece of bark lashed thereto, which was placed breadthwise two large boughs, about midway of the tree. – John Higbee & some others have been fishing to-day in the Laramie Fork. – After drawing the sein a number of times, they caught 60 or 70 fish of different kinds, viz: – Carp, catfish, salmon, suckers, &c.– About noon the Twelve returned, bringing the flat boat with them, a number of the brethren towing it to the mouth of the Laramie Fork, thence up the river opposite our encampment. – We were obliged to pay them $15 for the use of it. – Bro. Wm. Clayton, has been over to the Fort, informed me that he saw 30 or 40 Indians there, – these are mostly connected by blood & marriage with the man who has principal charge of affairs there, whose name is Bordeaux – I also learned that from that place can be seen snow on the Laramie Peak of the Black Hills which lie to the S. W. – This evening it is tolerably cool. The time to-day has been principally occupied by the brethren in washing, repairing of wagons, &c.

sketchFort John, 1844, precursor to Fort Laramie. Wyoming State Archives.

Thursday the 3d.

Somewhat cloudy this morning with a strong wind from the N. E. – The brethren commenced ferrying at sunrise this morning. – About ½ past 8 a.m. Bishop Whipple, F. Pomeroy & myself went over the river & took a view of Ft. John, as also of the ruins of Ft. Platte, of which I shall give a minute description hereafter. While there, we saw & conversed with 1 of 3 men who had come in last night from St. Joseph, Mo. He told us that there were 2000 wagons belonging to emigrants, between here & that place on their route to Oregon, 14 of which would probably be in to-day, as they travelled in separate companies of 100, 50, & as few as 11 wagons in number.[141] Yesterday Professor Pratt by an observation with the quadrant, ascertained the river here to be 108 yds. in width & Laramie Fork at Ft. John 46 yds. wide, both streams running with great rapidity. Amasa Lyman, Roswell Stevens, Thomas Wolsey & John H. Tibbetts started for Pueblo this morning – they are going in order to conduct the soldier brethren to us at the place where we shall stop to hunt a week or 2, probably somewhere in the vicinity of Sweet Water. – Porter, Thomas Brown, Joseph Matthews & John Brown crossed the river & went ahead on horseback to seek a good road. – About 1 P. M. it commenced raining very hard, accompanied by considerable hail, also thunder & lightning. This detained the operations at the Ferry about 1 hour, when the rain ceased, although the weather yet has quite a threatening appearance. Thomas Grover has the superintendence of the ferryiage of the 1st Division, & John S. Higbee that of the 2d Division. – My wagon & horses were ferried over about sunset, being the last wagon in the 10, & the ferryage was suspended till morning, 17 wagons yet remaining on the other side. – It again commenced raining just before I crossed the river, & yet continues, it being now about 9 o’clock in the evening. We are formed in a circle on the banks of the river, near the ruins of Ft. Platte, in which most of the brethren put their horses to-night. – Porter & those sent ahead, returned this evening, having been some 8 or 10 miles up the river, & reported the route to be generally even & practicable Latitude at Ft. John, 42° – 12 m. – 13 s. – I will now proceed to give a description of Ft. Platte & Ft. John, which I have hitherto omitted for want of time[142] – The former is in a state of ruins, & is situated on the banks of the N. Fork, about a mile from the latter fork – The walls are composed of lumps of clay, apparently dried in the sun, & are about 8 inches thick & from 12 to 20 inches long, laid up like unto brick – the height of the walls is about 10 feet – they measured on the outside east & west 144 feet; north & south, 132 feet. On the east, west, & south, running from the main walls to the center, are 16 rooms, each opening to the interior. – 15 of them are 15½ by 16 feet inside, with window holes resembling port holes. – On the north side there is a large room called by the French “Corell”, a place for keeping their horses & cattle, the size of which is 98 by 47 feet. – The thickness of these walls is 30 inches, which are covered with lime, or something of the like nature. – The entrance is on the south & North-east corner, the Old Oregon road running 1 rod from the South-west corner towards the North Fork. – We next visited Ft. John – this is beautifully situated on a small-eminence on the banks of the Laramie Fork, about 1½ mile above its junction with the North Fork & commands an extensive view of the whole adjacent country – we were very kindly received by Mr. Bordeaux the proprietor, who conducted us through the interior of the Fort, & gave us some information relative to the same[143] – The construction of this is similar to that of Ft. Platte, as far as the general outlines are concerned. The number of men employed here is 38, although only 18 are here at present. – The length & breadth on the outside are 168 by 116 feet. – On either side east & west are 5 rooms & 3 each on the north & south sides, making 16 rooms in all, including 10 dwelling rooms on the east & west, &1 on the north side. – of the 3 rooms on the south side 2 are occupied as store rooms, the remaining 1 as a blacksmith shop – The place where the horses & cattle are kept is on the eastern side, & is quite similar to that of Ft. Platte. – Mr. Bordeaux informed us that Ft. John was built about 7 years since, some time previous to the erection of Ft. Platte, which, he with others, had purchased of another company – The country in this vicinity is subject to long droughts, as he informed me till quite lately, there had been no rain for near 2 years. –

Friday the 4th.

Pleasant, & cool morning owing to the rain last night. – Wind in the West. – The last of the wagons got over the river this morning about 8 o’clock. The Twelve, with a number of others, went up to the Fort, to bid adieu to the inhabitants, & to pay for the use of the boat – they returned at 20 minutes past 11 a.m., – A number of Indians & squaws from the Fort, paid a visit to our camp this morning. – We continued our journey at 12 M (the 2d Division going ahead, & our 10 being foremost,) & travelled a north-west course about 2½ miles, & then began to take a west course, passing along between the bluffs & the river. We halted to bait at 25 minutes past 1 P. M., having come 3 miles – At this place the grass was the most luxuriant that we have seen it for a long time – here to our right a short distance, the river winding in a serpentine direction, glides gracefully by, while immediately to our left are large crags & masses of rock, as it were, suspended over our heads – on the sides of these are numerous cedar trees, as also plenty of ash-trees growing in the vicinity – We again started at 25 minutes to 3 P. M., – travelling over a deep, rugged, sandy road, we gradually ascended the bluffs; after going about 8 miles in near the same direction, we came to a place where the road led down a long & steep descent to the bottom below, which, after reaching, & proceeding ¼ of a mile, we encamped in a circle at ½ past 5 P. M.; having come 8¼ miles to-day – Just as we arrived we had quite a thunder shower, which however, did not last above ½ an hour. – We are encamped within a short distance of the river, on the margin of which the grass is quite green & high – there is also plenty of wood in the vicinity, chiefly white ash. – a man by the name of Myers who has lived in this country 9 years, started from Ft. John, (or Laramie, as it is sometimes called) with us this morning, intending to prosecute the journey in our company – He has 2 wives, (squaws,) at Pueblo, also a number of children. – he had been hesitating between 2 decisions, whether to return to Pueblo, or proceed with us & finally determining to pursue the former course, he had travelled about an hour on the route, this morning, when, suddenly changing his mind, he retraced his steps to our camp, just as we had got ready to start. – He is, at present, travelling with the family of Bro. Robert Crow. The names of the three families who came with Bro. Crow from Pueblo, inclusive his own, as also other individuals travelling with him, are as follows: – Robert Crow, Elizabeth Crow, Benjamin B. Crow, Harriet Crow, Elizabeth Jane Crow, John McHenry Crow, Walter H. Crow – George W. Therlkill, Matilda Jane Therlkill, Milton Howard Therlkill, James Wm. Therlkill – Wm Parker Crow, Ira Vinda Eugene Crow, Iraminda Almarene Crow , Archibald Little, James Chesney, Lewis B. Myers. – The foregoing names, are arranged in a company by themselves, & belong to the 2d Division, thus forming the 15th 10 belonging to the camp of Israel. – They have with them the following wagons & stock: – 5 wagons, 1 cart, 11 horses, 12 yoke oxen, 22 cows, 7 calves, 3 bulls. I neglected to mention that Porter, this morning, exchanged a horse at the fort for 2 cows with their calves, & 1 two year old heifer – Thomas Brown also at the same time exchanged a horse for a pony. –

sketchWilliam H. Jackson, [Francis] Parkman Approaching Old Fort Laramie, 1846. Wyoming State Archives.

Saturday the 5th.

Rather cloudy this morning, though tolerably warm. – It is the intention hereafter to put up guide boards at the end of each 10 miles we travel. – At 20 minutes past 8 a.m. we continued our journey; after travelling north of west over an uneven, sandy bottom; about 4 miles, we ascended a high bluff, & went ½ miles over a cragged, rocky road, when we again descended a steep & narrow declivity, & came to the bottom below, which, however, is considerably elevated above the river. – The summit & sides of this bluff abound in numerous pine trees, a number of them growing in the clefts of the rocks. Leaving the river, we now began to pursue a due west course through extensive valleys & narrow defiles, with lofty banks on either side, obscuring a number of sandbeds, which apparently marked the former course of mighty rushing torrents, descending from the mountains. – Near 1 of these, (a small rivulet issueing from a spring close by & running over a portion of it at this time,) we halted to bait at 20 minutes to 12 M., having come 6½ miles. – Our halting place this noon is in a beautiful valley, encompassed on all sides by cragged precipices & small hills, & apparently, “shut out from all the world beside.” The Spring spoken of above is called by Captain Fremont “Warm Springs”, & is in Lat. 42° – 15 m. – 6 s. – Rained a little at intervals this forenoon. – While here, there were 3 men came to us on mules – these belong to a band of emigrants, who, with 11 wagons are in the vicinity, & have taken a different & main road from the Ft., than ourselves, & consequently, are ahead of us. – We again started at ¼ to 2 P. M., went a short distance, & came to the place where the road made by these emigrants, intersects our own – after going about ¾ of a mile, we again turned to the north-west, & soon began to ascend another long, steep, & stony declivity, after which, we emerged on to a beautiful, rolling prairie, – here we could discover the emigrants, travelling ahead of us some distance – we could also plainly discern snow on the Laramie Peak of the Black Hills, as well as vaporous clouds shrouding a portion of its sides & summit – After having come 7 miles, we again descended a steep, sandy hill, at the foot of which is a sand-bed – this we travelled over some distance. – About 3 miles beyond this we came to the place where the emigrants had encamped for the night – Passing them we proceeded ½ a mile further, &, crossing a small stream, which apparently has its source in springs, we encamped on the banks thereof in a circle, at ½ past 6 P. M., having come 17 miles to-day, & 53 during the week; being this evening, 25¼ miles distant from Fort John, & 565½ from Winter Quarters – Our place of encampment this evening, is also in an extensive valley, surrounded by high hills. – We have not seen the river, since we left it this morning, – It is my opinion that the “Black Hills” are so named from the fact of their tops & sides abounding in pine trees & shrubs, which, seen at a distance, have, in appearance, a dark color. –

husband and wifeJames Bordeaux (d. 1878), proprietor at Fort Laramie and longtime fur trader for the American Fur Company,
with Marie, his Sioux wife. Wyoming State Archives.

Sunday the 6th.

Tolerably pleasant this morning, though the sky is somewhat obscured by clouds. – It rained considerably during the past night. About 8 oclock, the emigrants, spoken of above, passed our camp. A prayer meeting was held this forenoon, commencing at ½ past 8 a.m., & ending at ½ past 10 a.m. – Being busily engaged in writing, I did not attend – the meeting was adjourned for one hour. Orson is engaged this forenoon in washing some of our clothes. – The brethren again came together, pursuant to adjournment, at ½ past 11 a.m., & the meeting was opened by singing, & prayer by Elder E. Benson, after which Elder O. Pratt arose & said, that as it had the appearance of rain, the President thought best that the meeting be adjourned, or dismissed; “accordingly,” said he, “consider yourselves dismissed with the blessings of Heaven.” – Soon after 21 wagons, belonging to emigrants, passed our encampment, in addition to the 11 that went ahead this morning, making 32 wagons in all. – The shower did not last more than ½ an hour, when it again cleared off pleasant, though quite warm. – It is the intention to proceed 5 or 6 miles this afternoon, as we learn that, otherwise, we shall be obliged to travel over 20 miles to-morrow, before we can come to a convenient camping place, on account of the scarcity of water. – We accordingly started at ½ past 2 P. M., – we travelled 3¾ miles over an uneven, sandy road, somewhat wet in places from the recent rains, & halted about ¾ of an hour, while some of the brethren went ahead to find a suitable camping place for the night. After going about ¼ of a mile further, we passed the encampment of the last company of the emigrants, when, after proceeding a mile, we encamped in a circle, at 5 P. M., on the banks of a small stream, having, this afternoon, come 5 miles. Our course has been, most of the time, a little south of west, through a beautiful picturesque country, abounding in rich, woodland scenery, principally consisting of cotton-wood & willow. We are situated, this evening, in a small valley, encompassed by a gentle elevation of ground, on which are growing in abundance green grass & wild sage. – The latter plant we have noticed for a day or two on our route. – To the south west of us a short distance, on the banks of the creek above mentioned, is quite a dense forest of trees, consisting also principally of cotton-wood. – Porter informed me that while out this afternoon on horseback, he saw 6 or 7 elk. He also wounded a deer, & has gone out with others, this evening, expecting to get it with assistance of dogs – after a while he returned, not having been successful in the pursuit. – The first body of emigrants, consisting of 11 wagons are encamped ¼ of a mile ahead of us. Two of them were at our camp this evening, & conversed with Pres’t. Young, & a number of the brethren for some time. One of them, whose name is Burroughs, is an old acquaintance of Luke Johnson, & was formerly from Shalersville, Ohio. He said that they had a pilot with them, whose name is Gabriel Freedom, who is well acquainted with the route. Bro. Burr Frost did considerable blacksmithing for the last company of 21 wagons, who are encamped back about a mile.

landscapeC. Hall, Laramie Peak and Black Hills in Distance (1853). Wyoming State Archives.

Monday the 7th.

Fine morning – I arose at sunrise, & stood on guard, watching cattle in Orson’s place. – We started at ¼ past 7 a.m. the emigrants preceding us a short distance. We pursued a N. N. W. course 5 miles, over an uneven, sandy road, & came to a steep descent, which we were obliged to dig down, before going further – we proceeded 2¾ miles & halted to bait at ¼ to 11 a.m., near a place where small springs issue from the ground.[144]– We found the grass here quite scant. – We saw the dead body of an antelope by the roadside, killed by the emigrants who are in advance of us. – While here 13 more emigrant wagons passed us, making 45 in all ahead, all of which have 3, 4, & 5 yoke of oxen attached to them. – From here the snow is plain to be seen on Laramie Peak, which lies some distance to the south-west of us, we being now as near it as our route will probably bring us. – we again started at 1 P. M., going a short distance we ascended a hill, & came to a beautiful rolling prairie, almost literally covered with pine trees of different sizes, though the ground is quite stony, as we noticed huge fragments of rock on either side as we passed along. We also discovered on our route 2 dead bodies of an antelope & a red-tailed deer, suspended to a tree. We took them along with us. I learned that Porter killed the antelope & Lewis B. Myers the deer. – Our course this afternoon has also been North of West; &, with little exception, over a rough, hilly, rocky country. Descending a steep hill, we at length encamped in a circle at 4 P. M., having come 5¼ miles this afternoon, & 13 during the day. Our situation, this evening, is in a beautiful valley, (partially surrounded by high hills,) near a beautiful murmuring rivulet, with a large forest of trees & shrubbery, growing on its banks. The grass here is the highest & most luxuriant we have seen since we left Winter Quarters. About 2 rods from my wagon, is a very large, clear, & cold spring, affording as good water as I ever drank; & to say all in one word, the place seems to me a perfect paradise. – The 2d company of emigrants, I am informed are encamped about a mile ahead of us. It rained a little soon after our arrival – at the same time Orson went out on guard to watch horses & cattle. I learned that one or two more deer were killed this afternoon, but did not ascertain by whom. The stream on which we are encamped to night, is called by Fremont in his journal, “Horseshoe Creek.” – It rained a little during the fore part of the night, Orson stood on guard the latter part from 12 till daylight.

Tuesday the 8th.

Pleasant morning. We started at 25 minutes past 7 a.m. – I, with a number of others, went ahead with pick-axes, spades, & hoes to make the “rough places smooth”, & remove obstructions in the road, which leads over a rocky mountainous country. We walked 4¾ miles, & crossed a creek where 2 companies of emigrants encamped last night. Here we stopt at ½ past 10 a.m. & waited till the teams came up – We found John Higbee here, who had exchanged his Indian horse with one of them for a cow & heifer. We walked 2 miles further ahead of the teams, & came to another creek, on the banks of which we halted to bait at ¼ to 12 M., having come 6¾ miles. One of the daughters of Bro. Robert Crow had one of her limbs considerably injured, by accidentally falling out of the wagon, & one of the wheels running over it. This noon I feel quite fatigued with my walk & labor on the road. I understood there was a number of buffaloes seen this forenoon. Lewis B. Myers killed an antelope this morning. We started at 10 minutes past 1 P. M. proceeding, as usual, over a rocky hilly country, alternately ascending & descending high hills, without the occurrence of any particular incident & finally came to another stream about 2 rods wide – quite deep & rapid. – On its banks & adjacent, is another large forest, similar to the one where we encamped last night. Here we encamped in a circle at 10 minutes to 6 P. M., having mad [sic] 8¾ miles this afternoon, & 15½ during the day. Our course, generally thro’ the day has been N. N. W. – The weather, which this forenoon was quite pleasant, became very cold this afternoon (the wind being in the north,) so that a fire feels, this evening, quite comfortable. Porter killed a deer this afternoon. John W. Norton also killed an antelope. – This evening 5 mountaineers came to our camp on horseback – they are on their way from Fort Bridger to Fort John, & are encamped this evening about 1¼ mile from here.

Wednesday the 9th.

Pleasant morning, though quite cool weather. We started at sunrise, went 1¼ mile & stopt to bait on the same creek. Here we found the mountaineers encamped. They have 2 squaws with them. They had also one or two carts loaded with buffalo skins & other peltry of different kinds. Some of the brethren are intending to send letters back by them. These men were well acquainted with Lewis B. Myers, (who travels with Bro. Crow’s family,) & told him that on crossing the Platte River, 3 or 4 day’s journey before us, they had made a leather boat, which they hung up in a tree, & that we might use it for ferrying; therefore, it was thought expedient, to send some men ahead & secure it, – before the emigrants should reach the river; – accordingly, 19 wagons started from here this morning, for that purpose, being under the supervision of Capt. Tarleton Lewis. The remainder of us started at 25 minutes past 7 a.m. – We had not gone far before we were overtaken by another band of mountaineers, 4 in number, – these had with them a dozen or more ponies & mules, the most of which had packs on their backs. After going 2¼ miles we crossed another creek. Just before you arrive at this, the earth assumes a reddish appearance, which continues a number of miles. We halted to bait at 20 minutes to 1 P. M., near a sand-bed where had formerly been a stream, having come 11¼ miles, over, as usual, a rough, hilly country. We again started at ¼ past 2 P. M. proceeding a N. W. course as indeed we have the whole day, & finally encamped in a semi-circle, at ¼ past 6 P. M., on the banks of a stream about 2 rods in width, running with considerable rapidity. Just as we arrived, we could see in the distance ahead, ascending a hill, the wagons sent ahead this morning – The mountaineers also passed us & pursued their journey to the west – these came from the Arkansas River, & are on their return to the Mountains. We have travelled 19¼ miles to day, being the longest ascertained days’ journey we have accomplished since we left Winter Quarters.

Thursday the 10th.

Beautiful morning. The weather being quite warm & pleasant. – Bro. Heber told me that he thought, that in about 5 weeks we would reach the place of our destination, viz: – the Salt Lakes, we being now near 300 miles from Ft. Bridger, which is about 100 miles from the former place, where, he said, there was only one inhabitant or settler, viz: – a farmer who settled there last fall – this information he obtained, I suppose, of the mountaineers. He also informed me, that yesterday he saw a natural curiosity, viz: – a toad, having bothe [sic] tail & horns. We started at 20 minutes to 8 a.m. & pursuing still a N. W. course, after going, as usual, over a rough, hilly country, 4½ miles we crossed a small rivulet. We proceeded about 2 miles & crossed another, when after travelling 2¼ miles further we halted at 20 minutes past 11 a. m., on the banks of another stream called North Buffalo Fork, having come 8¾ miles. At this place the grass was tolerably good. We again started at ¼ to 2 P. M., – proceeded 4¼ miles & again came to the river, after descending a long, steep, hill – we went 4¾ miles further on the bottom, in a western direction, & encamped in a circle at ¼ past 6 P. M., in a beautiful grove of cotton wood trees, having come 17¾ miles to-day. Near here is a beautiful stream, about 3 rods in width, which, running with great rapidity empties into the river a short distance hence. It is called Deer Creek. By an observation made this evening from the fixed star “Arcturus,” its latitude was ascertained to be 42° 52’ 50”. – about a mile above, Bro. [Albert] Carrington & others discovered, this evening, an extensive mine of bituminous (pitch) coal, a specimen of which I procured of him – this is different in its nature from the anthracite (stone) coal. Latitude this noon at North Buffalo Fork 42° 51’ 5”. I understood from J. Hancock, that a portion of the stream on which we encamped last night, (called by the French “a’la Prele”) runs thro’ a natural tunnel of rock arched over, for about 20 rods, the span being large enough to admit a man to walk through it. – I caught 3 fish this evening of very good size 1 catfish & 2 suckers, & in fact Deer Creek abounds in fish of different kinds. There were 4 antelope killed to-day by different individuals.

Friday the 11th.

[Editor’s note: In the original journals, Horace Whitney’s handwritten entries for 11 and 12 June are not in sequential order. For reasons not given, these pages follow his entry for 28 June]

Bright & beautiful – I stood on guard this morning in front of my wagon to prevent the horses from recrossing the creek. We continued our journey at ½ to 8 a. m., & travelled in a western direction along the river, most of the time on a level, sandy bottom, occasionally ascending a small elevation of ground, & halted to bait at 12 M. a short distance from the river, having come 9¼ miles. During most of our route this forenoon, we have noticed a considerable number of cotton wood trees, interspersed here & there, growing on both sides the river – near a cluster of these we have stopt this noon. There have been 4 antelope killed this forenoon – 3 by Ed. Ellsworth, F. Pomeroy, & J. Hancock. the other by whom I did not ascertain. We again started at 10 minutes past 2 P. M.; still pursuing a west course along the river, we crossed 2 small streams on our route, when, after travelling alternately over the hills & bottom, we turned to the right of the road some distance & encamped at 6 P. M., on the banks of the river near a small grove of cotton wood, having come 7¾ this P. M. & 17 miles during the day. – about a mile above us part of 2 companies of emigrants are encamped – these are now crossing the river by means of a boat they brought along, assisted by a raft they have here constructed. The majority of them, however, I learned from 2 of their number this evening, had gone up the river on this side, probably intending to cross where we do. I learned this evening that there were 3 more antelope killed & brought into camp this evening, 2 of which were killed by Henson Walker, making 7 in all – there were a number killed not brought in. Latitude at our stopping place this noon, 42° 51’ 47”. After our arrival I stood on guard in Orson’s place, watching cattle.

Saturday the 12th.

Fine morning, with a cool breeze from the west. Some of the brethren, this morning, tried to find a fording place, near here, but were unsuccessful. All the extra men in the camp went ahead to make a bridge over a creek. Bro. J. Hancock, while on guard this morning, shot an antelope. – We started at ¼ past 8 a. m., & following the course of the river a little south of west 3 miles, we crossed a creek over a bridge built by the brethren who went in advance, among whom was Orson. At this place we saw an antelope that had been wounded in the leg by some of the hunters, & moved slowly & with considerable difficulty. Bro. T. Grover fired a shot at him, which did not take effect, however, the animal soon fell exhausted, & he cut his throat. – We proceeded 1¼ mile and crossed another small stream, after which, going 3 miles, we halted to bait at ½ past 11 a.m., about ¼ of a mile from the river, having come 7¼ miles. Here the grass was quite scant. We noticed considerable snow on the bleak, high hills to our left, as we passed along this forenoon. – as before proceeding further we have to cross a deep ravine, the men were called upon to go with spades & dig it down. While here, Bro. Alexander P. Chessley rode up on horseback. He came from our wagons that went ahead on Wednesday last. He said that they were about 3 miles above here, as also a number of the emigrants. They had undertaken to ferry over the river 22 wagons for the latter, for $1.50 each which amounts to $33 they being paid in flour at $2.50 per hundred, also meat & bacon. When he left they had taken them all over except 3 wagons – this is done by means of the “Revenue Cutter,” & 2 logs that they had hewn out, the wheels on each side a wagon being placed in the cavity. He reported that the hunters had killed 3 buffaloes, & Porter, J. Brown, & Lewis B. Myers one black bear & 3 cubs, beside a large number of antelope that had been killed. He also reported the river to be quite rapid & deep, & but little grass where they were encamped. Soon after his arrival Heber, Bro. Benson, O. Pratt, Col. Rockwood & a number of others (including himself,) went to search a suitable fording place near here. – They soon returned unsuccessful, & we again started at 25 minutes to 2 P. M. & proceeded a little south of west over an uneven, sandy soil 3¼ miles & crossed a narrow, deep stream, after which we went ¾ of a mile & encamped in a semicircle on the banks of the river at ½ past 4 P. M., having come 11¼ miles to-day, 98¾ miles during the week, being, this evening, 124 miles from Ft. John & 664¼ miles from Winter Quarters. Our 19 wagons are encamped about ½ a mile above, the men being yet engaged in ferrying over the emigrants. – I have heard of only 4 antelope being kill to-day in the 2d Division. The grass here is quite plenty & good – The nearest timber is about ½ a mile below us on the bank of the river. This evening 6 horsemen, (emigrants,) encamped about ½ a mile below us. I saw 2 of their number, who informed me that they belonged to another company of 24 wagons which are back about 10 miles. This evening the brethren are considerably alarmed about Bro. Tunis Rappleye, who soon after our arrival, on a wager, get out to go up to the bluffs opposite (about 5 miles distant,) to procure a snowball & bring it to the camp by 8 o’clock. A number of men were rallied to go in pursuit of him, & the horn was sounded several times, as also guns fired at intervals for his benefit. About 11 he returned: he succeeded in getting the snowball, but could not bring it to camp, as it dissolved before he arrived. –

Sunday the 13th.

Pleasant morning, though the weather throughout the day was quite warm & sultry. The emigrants started from the other side of the river about 9 a. m. – About ½ past 9 a. m. a meeting was commenced & held till noon – A number of the brethren spoke & prayed, & last of all, Brigham, Heber, & O. Pratt addressed successively the congregation. President Young spoke principally of the liberty & light of the gospel. That very few knew what the phrase meant. That we should always try to do that which would result in the most good, & that a man could not know that, unless by revelation from Heaven. That it is enough for us to know what is necessary to be done to-day to be of the most utility, without thinking of the course necessary to be pursued for the same purpose to morrow or next day. Heber spoke of the necessity of our cultivating union one with another, & banishing all selfishness from our hearts, that we may become acceptable servants in the sight of the Lord. – Elder O. Pratt’s speech principally related to the utility & necessity of the improvement & cultivation of the time & talents God has given us, showing that a contrary course would result in the depravity of our morals. After the meeting was dismissed, all the officers in the camp met together at Pres’t Young’s wagon to counsel upon matters relative to our crossing the river to-morrow. It was proposed by the President; that a quantity of poles should be procured this afternoon, that with their assistance, 4 wagons might be lashed together abreast, & drawn across the river without danger of being overturned, accordingly 3 or 4 wagons immediately started off in pursuit of them. (poles.) Bro. Heber, with the aid of the Revenue Cutter swam over a number of his oxen this afternoon. Col. Rockwood, the Commissary, also this afternoon, distributed equally among the brethren in the camp, the provisions got of the Gentiles in payment for ferryage, which were to each person as follows, viz: – Flour 5½ lbs., meal 2 lbs. & a small slice of bacon. The 1st Division are intending to take the freight of the wagons over in the Revenue Cutter, the 2 Division by means of a raft built this afternoon for that purpose.

Monday the 14th.

Tolerably warm day, with considerable wind. This morning very early the ferryage of the wagons & goods commenced – a number of wagons were drawn across the river with a rope, the current setting towards the opposite shore, some 2, 3, & 4 abreast. a number of them were overset, rolling over a number of times, before reaching the shore, but mine, which was lashed together with 3 others, was brought over safely this morning. Some took their wagons over on rafts, also their goods. I was stationed with Col. Markham & 2 or 3 others to assist in pulling over the wagons as fast as the ropes were attached to them; though part of the time I was engaged in driving cattle attached to the raft which we had to tow up stream some distance. This afternoon we had a very heavy hail & rain storm, accompanied by considerable wind. – Bro. J. Higbee & myself happened to be up the river at the time, towing the raft, & we were obliged to seek the shelter of the nearest bushes, as we were some distance from the wagons. About sunset, I brought over my freight in the Revenue Cutter, which after taking out, I put it again into the wagon, together with some of Bro. Luke Johnson’s things, whose wagon is on the other side the river. My horses I had not yet got over, therefore I procured another span, & took my wagon back ¼ of a mile from the river to an elevated plot of ground covered with green grass, trees & bushes, where about a dozen of wagons had already preceded me – This was done in consequence of the river’s rising so rapidly, as we were somewhat fearful that the shore would be inundated with water during the night. – As my wagon was full of goods, after eating some supper given us by the brethren, Bro. Luke Johnson & myself laid down before the fire in the open air, covering ourselves with buffalo robes. After a while, Orson, who had been over the river, came back & slept with us. I have done the hardest day’s work to-day I ever recollect to have done in my life, & this evening I feel quite worn out with cold & fatigue. I learned there were 24 wagons brought over to-day. Bro. Heber has been quite busy to-day in overseeing the ferryage; I also noticed him assisting in taking over the raft. 4 Frenchmen or traders came up on horseback, soon after I brought over my things, & at their request, were ferried over to the other side the river in the boat, & went down to a camp of the emigrants 4 miles below here.

landUpper Platte Mormon Ferry. Lithograph by Piercy, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley. Courtesy of Church History Library.

A letter written by Father Whitney to his sons Horace and Orson, then with the pioneers, which he wrote June 14th, 1847, and directed as follows:

“Camp of Israel in the West.” MY SONS HORACE AND ORSON:

“I have just started a team for the mountains. * * * I intended to have sent two or three teams and wagons, but the mill dam going down stream a few days since, I could not procure breadstuff for more than one wagon, and that is in charge of Bros. Archibald Hill and Stillman Pond. They have for you near two hundred pounds of flour and one small cheese, say eight or ten pounds, if you need it. Should you not want all the flour, take as much of it as will do you and let them keep the balance, as they are rather scant of breadstuff. If my team should meet you on your return you will give Bros. Pond and Hill a list of all my property which you may have left the other side of the mountains, and in order that they may get possession of it, and take care of the same until I come, and give them all the instructions you can about matters appertaining to my business, etc., in that country, as they have gone expressly to attend to my business, as also their own. It is a general time of health in this place, but there are quite a number of poor on our hands, which makes it rather hard times; but as we have a large quantity of grain growing, we hope we shall be able to do better by them by and by. We have been hindered in starting a company early, as anticipated when you left, in consequence of not being able to procure a supply of breadstuff sufficient to warrant it, and some other reasons might be assigned.

“We have concluded to fit out but one company to the mountains this season, and it is expected that it will consist of not less than from four to five hundred wagons, from the present calculations, and the most of them will be under the necessity of taking the greater part of their grain unground.[145] Bro. Eldredge takes a pair of small millstones with him, and the necessary irons, etc., to set a mill in operation by horse power or otherwise, in a short time after his arrival at the place of destination.

“Our mother has written you at some length, she says, and it is therefore unnecessary for me to touch on any matter except business, but would say that you have our prayers night and day for your prosperity in all things, as also all of your company, that you may prosper and return safe to us this fall, and I am sanguine you will. But remember to be prayerful and show yourselves approved before the Lord, and heed the counsel of those whom the Lord has ordained to give counsel, and it shall be well with you. This from your father, who blesses you in the name of the Lord.

“This is confidential, but you can show it to H. C. K. if you choose.


“P.S. Give my good wishes to Bros. Brigham and Heber and all the others; tell them things are right in the main, and it is a hurrying time, as usual, or I would have written them; but I suppose their families have written them fully on all matters. May the Lord bless you all.

“N. K. W.”

Woman’s Exponent, vol. 15, no. 1,
1 June 1886, p. 6

wagon alone on the trailArtist unknown, Ferrying Wagons at the Platte—Mormon Ferry. One of the more successful Mormon enterprises along the trail, the Mormon Ferry near today’s Casper, Wyoming, ferried hundreds of wagons both Mormon and Oregon/California-bound settlers in their westward journeys. Courtesy of State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Tuesday the 15th.

Somewhat cloudy, with a strong west wind. I felt quite unwell this morning, owing to being in the water & the hard labor of yesterday, therefore, I did not assist in ferrying to-day, but busied myself in taking the things out of the wagon, & laying them on the ground to air & dry. The wind was so very strong down the stream, that they could not ferry with the usual rapidity, but by night they had got over, as I understood 20 wagons, – which were all brought over on rafts. Bro. Robert Crow lost a horse that he was attempting to swim across the river, in consequence of his feet getting entangled in a laryette that was on his neck at the time. There was quite a large rattlesnake killed near here this afternoon, in the body of which, on examination, was found a large mouse or mole that he had swallowed. – I heard Bro. Benson say this evening, that there was a Missourian, belonging to the last company of emigrants, lately come up on horseback, who informed the brethren that he saw, as he was passing along above the head of Grand Island, a large collection of wagons travelling along on the North side of the Platte River – these, we suppose to be the 2d company of Pioneers, that were to leave Winter Quarters about the middle of May last.[146] There is a rumor, (how true I know not,) – that there are, at this time, 1000 wagons of emigrants, (Gentiles,) on the road between here & Ft. John or Laramie, consequently, it is the intention to leave some of the brethren here to ferry them over, & for this purpose, Col. Rockwood went round, & notified the officers of the camp that there must be 20 men, (10 out of each Division) Start early to-morrow morning, take some provisions with them, also the necessary implements, such as axes, broad-axes, & adz, & go where they could find suitable timber, & build 2 canoes. – Orson went over the river, to take care of the horses, & did not return to night.

Wednesday the 16th.

Somewhat cloudy, with a strong wind from the west. The men spoken of above, went down the river about 3 miles this morning, & returned this evening with the 2 canoes – a boat is to be formed of these, by putting them a certain distance apart; & then placing puncheons across them. I learned this evening that 3 companies of emigrants, have come up on the other side the river & are a little way down the river – The occupants of 10 or 12 of their wagons, who are opposite us wish to be ferried over this evening, & they offer, if we will do it to night to pay us .50 cts. extra on a wagon, more than we got of the others, which would amount to $2.00 each – but this, I believe, was not done, as the brethren were mostly tired out with to-days’ work. I do not know the number of wagons brought over to-day, but understand there were but few, as the wind blowing very strong down stream, rendered it impossible to do so with much rapidity. – There is a company of about 21 wagons of emigrants, down the river about 3 miles near where our brethren were at work to-day – these have managed to cross the river on a raft built by themselves, as we learned from 3 of their number, who visited our camp this afternoon – It is the intention to ferry over the emigrants to-morrow, as also the remainder of our own wagons – the cattle are to be swam over – Orson returned from the other side the river towards evening, bringing over the horses with him, by swimming them.

Thursday the 17th.

Pleasant morning though somewhat windy. I stood on guard the whole day, watching the cattle. All of our wagons were got over about noon, & we all moved up the river about ½ a mile & formed in a circle on its banks. There were also, I believe, 5 or 6 wagons of the emigrants ferried over this afternoon. J. Redding & myself, while out on guard this afternoon, saw a rattlesnake, which he shot. I understand this evening from Bro. Heber, it is the intention to pursue our journey to-morrow. after having occupied 4 days in crossing the river. The air is quite chilly this evening, the wind having veered around from the west to the north. It is also quite cloudy, having the appearance of rain.

Friday the 18th.

Pleasant morning, though somewhat cool, the wind being in the north-west. There are 3 companies of emigrants to be ferried over. We are now engaged in rafting over the 2d company. the business having been kept up during the whole night. It is the intention for all to remain here till we shall have commenced bringing over the 3d company, that we may thereby draw the pay for the whole: leaving 10 men to complete the work, whose names are as follow: – Thomas Grover, John S. Higbee, Benjamin F. Stewart, James Davenport, William Empy, Luke Johnson, Appleton Harmon, Francis M. Pomeroy Edmund Ellsworth. The vessel which was constructed by means of the 2 canoes was finished, & launched about 1 P. M. – It is called the “Twins of the Black Hills” – & with it we are able to transport wagons & goods with much greater rapidity across the river than we have hitherto done.[147] We all got up our horses & cattle at 11 a. m., to see if there were any missing & found there was not – Most of the brethren are engaged in ferrying over the emigrants, a number of whom are quite sick – they have lost 2 of their number since they left Ft. John. I went fishing awhile this afternoon, but caught nothing, the river being too high – I believe it is not the intention to leave this place to-day, as contemplated yesterday.- The weather through the day continued quite warm & sultry. Those who are to remain behind were called together this evening to receive some instruction from Prest’t. Young, relative to their duties - I did not attend in time to hear it, but arrived just at Bro. Bullock was reading to them a document containing rules for their guidance & conduct, in which they were exhorted to take care of their healths, & not expose themselves to the cold & wet, as they had now a good boat to use – That they should build themselves a small house on a gentle eminence on the other side the river, both to live in, & to secure them & their effects from the Indians, in case a war-party should come this way. That they should attend strictly to their duty of ferrying over the emigrants, & not be around hunting, &c. but implicitly obey the instructions given them by their captain or foreman, Thos. Grover. That in case that general emigration should cease, they were to return to Ft. John & there remain till their families came up in the next company that is expected on soon, & then come on with them to our place of destination. In conclusion, Prest. Young remarked to them, that if they would obey the counsel given above, they should all be blessed, “for,” said he, “I promise you that in the name of the Lord.” – A number of the emigrant wagons that were ferried over during last night & to-day have gone ahead – an Irishman, Archibald Little by name, who has hitherto been travelling with Bro. Robert Crow’s family, went off with them being hired at $20 per month to go & drive team, &c.– Bro. E. Glines remained also behind, though rather against counsel, to wait for his family. There have been 3 antelopes killed to-day – 2 by Joseph Hancock, 1 by Lewis B. Myers.

Saturday the 19th.

Pleasant morning, though rather cool. We started this morning at 10 minutes past 8, 1 mile above the place where we encamped the other side the river, on Saturday the 12th inst. We proceeded in a western direction, (leaving the Black Hills & river to our left,) over a sandy, hilly, country, without the occurrence of any particular incident, & stopt to bait at 1 P. M., in a small valley, – where the grass was tolerably good, though there was no water, – having come 11¼ miles – after remaining here near an hour, we again started at 2 P. M., – proceeded ¾ of a mile, & came to a quite an extensive sheet of pure water, which is called the “Cold Springs,” & issues from springs in the ground beneath – Here we stopt a few minutes to water our horses & cattle – we then proceeded a little south of west over somewhat similar ground to that of this forenoon, (except, indeed, in some places we noticed huge masses of rock lying beside the road,) & encamped a little after sunset in a circle, in an extensive valley, enclosed by lofty hills, near a small rivulet which winds through it, apparently having its source in springs not far off – This, although quite transparent, we found had an extremely insipid brackish taste, but we were obliged to make use of it for want of better. – There was but little grass here, & in fact, scarcely any vegetation, except the “Wild Sage”, which I have before spoken of as being quite plentiful in this part of the country – Neither was there wood of any kind, therefore we were obliged to resort to the only alternative – “Buffalo Chips” instead as fuel – Lewis B. Myers killed to-day 3 antelope, 1 deer & 1 buffalo bull, though the latter was in such poor condition that he did not bring him in – Porter also killed a buffalo this afternoon about 2 miles from here – He & Benjamin Rolfe have gone out this evening with a team to bring it to camp. We have travelled 21½ miles to-day, being the longest, ascertained distance we have made per day, since we left home – & are this evening 146½ miles from Ft. John, & 686¾ miles from Winter Quarters. I was chosen last evening as one of the night guard, to stand in the place of Francis M. Pomeroy, one of those selected to remain at the ferry – Our turn comes on every 3d night under Capt. Jacobs. John Pack is to succeed Appleton Harmon, the former captain of our 10, he being also one of those who tarried at the river.

Sunday the 20th.

Clear, cold morning – Porter returned with the slaughtered buffalo at 1 a. m. I arose a little before sunrise, & we started at 6 a.m. & proceeding a west course, over, as usual, an uneven, sandy soil, we at length halted to bait & get breakfast at 20 minutes past 7 a. m. on an extensive, undulating plain, near a pure & murmuring rivulet – sweet to the taste, & quite dissimilar to the one we left this morning, having come 3¾ miles. Here we found the grass green & luxuriant. We were obliged to use the roots of wild sage for fuel by which to cook our breakfasts, which here grows rank & abundant. We all feel considerably concerned about Andrew J. Gibbons, who left us yesterday noon at the cold springs in search of game, & has not since been heard of. John W. Norton went back on horseback in pursuit, & found him with a company of emigrants not far back. We again started at 10 minutes past 10 a.m. – went 9 miles & again stop to bait at 3 P. M. near a small, clear stream, which abounds in fish of various kinds & sizes – We continued our journey at 5 P. M. & passing over a hilly, sandy country, the features of which were rather uninteresting, we crossed a deep, narrow, & rapid stream, running in a serpentine direction, after having come about 5 miles – We then proceeded 1¾ mile, & turned to the left ½ a mile from the road & encamped in a circle a little after sunset, on the brow of a gentle eminence, in front of & about 100 yds. from the same creek we last crossed – On the margin of this, we found the grass very good – We have made 20 miles to-day. Andrew J. Gibbons came into camp on foot this evening, soon after our arrival. He had come from Willow Springs, 10¼ miles back since 3 P. M. he informed us that a company of emigrants have encamped there for the night. I permitted my horses to run loose to-night, as they have had, comparatively, a poor chance to feed since we left the river. W. Woodruff & J. Brown, who left us at the springs above named, & went ahead to hunt, &c. did not return to-night. The cannon was fired at 12 o’clock, so that in case they had lost their way, they might know from the report the direction to the camp. –

rock formationA Wyoming Travel Commission photograph of Independence Rock. Wyoming State Archives.

Monday the 21st.

Bright & beautiful morning, though as the day advanced, the weather became quite warm & sultry. We started this morning about ½ past 8 a.m., & continuing near a west course, we travelled over a deep sandy, & comparatively level road, occasionally passing over rough, knobby places, & came to the banks of “Sweet Water,” at ¼ past 12 M., – Here we halted to bait having come 7½ miles[148] – This stream is quite deep & rapid, & at this place is about 5 rods in width, running in a serpentine direction through the valley, environed by stupendous lofty hills. Directly in front of us, apparently 1½ mile distant, is a lengthy high mass of rock, somewhat oval in form. It is situated on the east side of the river, about midway of the plain & has quite an isolated appearance, standing, as it does, some distance from the hills by which it is surrounded. This is called Fremont & others, “Independence Rock” & is named in the former’s journal, as being 650 yds. in length, & 45 yds. high. On the summit are numerous large fissures, or clefts between the rocks – also hollow cavities forming natural reservoirs, in which there was considerable water. The road winds between it & the river, there being but the space of 2 or 3 rods between each – At the extremity next the river, on the sides of the rock, are inscribed in different colors, with paint, &c., numerous names & dates, done by Oregon emigrants, who have passed here at different periods.[149] A number of these names are inscribed near the summit, others at different distances below. – To this place I had come ahead on foot & made the above observations, during our halt this noon, it being 1¼ mile distant from our stopping place. I felt quite fatigued after having ascended and travelled over it which occupied about 1 hour, & I then sat down to wait for the teams to come up. – It rained a little while I was here. Near here are a number of ponds and lakes, the shores of which are covered with a substance of mineral, somewhat the nature of alkali – a number of the brethren have collected large quantities of it, which makes a good substitute for salaratus.[150] There was a woman buried near here lately by the emigrants. The camp was again in motion at 3 P. M. – we went about a mile beyond the rock, & forded the river without accident, although the water came considerably above the bed of my wagon. On this side the river we also noticed a huge, solitary rock, scarcely less singular in its appearance than the one I had just visited, though varying in form, resembling somewhat a sugar loaf. I neglected to mention that at Independence Rock Bro. Clayton put up a guide board, which announced the distance to Ft. John to be 175¼ miles. We now proceeded over a level, sandy, country a little s. of w., & encamped sun ½ hour high in a semi-circle fronting the river; beyond which a short distance is a lofty range of rocky, massive bluffs, standing in bold relief against the evening sky, while on this side, between us & the river, is a beautiful plot of green grass, & behind us to the left a gentle elevation of ground, about ¼ of a mile down the stream is a narrow pass through which the rushing torrent runs, the course of which can be heard at considerable distance. On either side of this is a rocky, perpendicular descent of some 200 feet, formed by crags piled on crags, presenting to the eye at once a scene of romantic interest & grandeur. We have made 15¼ miles to-day – There have been 2 antelope killed to-day, one by Porter the other by Henson Walker . The chasm or pass between the rocks above named is called “Devil’s Gate” – Latitude at Independence Rock. 42° 30’ 16”[151]

wagonsArtist unknown, Independence Rock Looking West, 1850. In the distance is Devil’s Gate.

Tuesday the 22d.

Fine morning, & fair prospect of a warm day. – I stood on guard last night the last watch. We started about ½ past 7 a.m., & following the course of the river over a sandy, dusty road, we stopt to bait at 12 M. on the banks of the same, having come 10 miles. Opposite us on the other side is a high range of broken rocky bluffs, while a little to the right is a wide area of ground between them, extending as far as the eye can reach, relieved by a single object, viz: – an oblong mass of rock, which stands at a considerable distance from any thing similar to itself – Otherwise than this the features of the country around have a uniform aspect, with this variation that, occasionally may be seen one rocky peak towering far above its fellows. – The grass here on the margin of the river is very good – The weather is very warm & sultry. We crossed 3 small creeks this forenoon – 10 emigrant wagons passed us soon after our arrival at this place – 2 horsemen, who were in the company, informed us that a young man, one of their number, was lately drowned at the ferry on North Fork, in attempting to swim his horse across the river. We started again at 2 P. M. & travelling s. of w. alternately over sandy bluffs & bottoms, we forded 2 small streams, near their confluence with the River, & finally encamped a little after sunset on the banks of the same, having come 20¾ miles – The features of the country which we have travelled this afternoon, are similar to those of this forenoon, as we observed all the way to our right across the river & occasionally also to our left, lofty, rocky, & broken ranges of mountains. About 3 miles back from here we passed another isolated mass of rock, similar in form, though inferior in size to “Independence Rock,” & in fact we begin to be sensible that we are fast approaching the far-famed Rocky Mountains, which extend from the northern to the southern limits of the United States Territory & Mexico – at this place the grass is plentiful & luxuriant; although we have no fuel except the wild sage root, which here grows higher than any I have before seen. I know of but 2 antelopes having been brought into camp to-night, killed by Joseph Hancock, & Lewis Barney – We passed the 10 emigrant wagons also about 3 miles back, where they have encamped for the night. It is the intention to get as early a start to-morrow morning as possible, on account of the wish of the Twelve to get ahead of the emigrants. Latitude at noon, 42° 28’ 25” –

Wednesday the 23d.

Warm & sultry. We started at 7 a.m., & travelled a west course some distance from the river over, as usual, a deep, sandy road. noticing on our right as usual, a high unbroken chain of mountains. after going about 1½ mile, we crossed a small creek, when proceeding 7 miles, we halted to bait at 20 minutes past 11 a.m., in a beautiful valley, abounding with green grass, opening upon a pass rocky cliffs elevating their towering forms on either side – at this place we again came to the river, which flows within a few rods of our halting place. We started at 1 P. M., – went ½ a mile, & turned to the left, leaving the river & the defile or pass spoken of above to our right – thence we pursued a west course over an excessively sandy road, which was very hard travelling for our horses – The features of the country remain about the same – high rocky mountains [Granite Mountains] on our right, while 5 or 6 miles to our left are lofty hills covered in places with snow. – After going about 8 miles we descended a gentle elevation & again came to a river, along which we travelled ½ a mile further, & encamped on its banks in a semi-circle at 6 P. M. having come 17 miles to-day. In advance of us at a great distance can be seen the outlines of mountains, loftier than any we have yet seen, – the setting sun throwing its glancing rays athwart their summits, reveal them to our eyes covered with snow. There is a company of 10 emigrant wagons encamped this evening about a mile in advance of us – these left the ferry a day or two previous to our starting thence. – Orson went on guard to watch the horses & cattle soon after our arrival. The weather, which this forenoon was quite warm and sultry, is now somewhat cold, the wind having veered – round to the north – Opposite our camping place this evening, is another of those isolated, massive, irregular piles of rock, thrown together in huge fragments, as if by some convulsion of nature – It is situated, at the entrance & near the center of a wide area of ground, forming a pass, with lofty crags & precipices towering above it on either side. Another lot of emigrants are encamped about a mile back – Joseph Hancock & Lewis Barney killed 2 antelope to-day –

Thursday the 24th.

Somewhat cloudy & cool this morning. We started at 6 a.m., – turning to the left, & leaving the river to our right, we pursued a west course over a somewhat uneven, sandy road 5 or 6 miles, & came to springs which issue from the ground, & have a sulphurous taste – in them we found the ice quite thick – we also noticed a number of salaratus beds, occupied with water – Here, too, we overtook a company of emigrants consisting of 10 wagons, & passed them, after travelling behind them some distance – after proceeding a little further on, we overtook another small company of them – behind these we travelled some 8 or 10 miles, & descending quite a steep, sandy hill, we again came to the river, having made 17¾ miles to-day – Here we encamped at ¼ past 3 P. M. in a semi-circle in an extensive valley or plain, surrounded by high & sandy hills – The grass here is tolerably good, & there was also considerable brushwood growing on the banks of the river, which we used as fuel – at this place we have again to ford the river – The emigrants whom we have travelled with the latter part of the day passed our camp & went ahead – also those whom we left behind came up soon after our arrival & went ahead a short distance & encamped for the night on the other side the river – another company soon after came up & encamped back a short distance. There were 4 antelope killed to-day by J. Hancock, Charles Burk , Henson Walker, & Lewis B. Myers – This evening another sad accident happened in our camp – Bro. John Holman, while driving up the horses, made a motion with his gun at one of them, as if to frighten him, & in so doing, the lock caught in his pocket & the piece discharged taking effect in the horse’s flank – He died during the night – He belonged to Pres’t. Young and was considered the best horse in the camp – We put our horses on the island opposite this afternoon, as the grass there was better than here –

wagons on the trailWilliam H. Jackson, South Pass—High Rolling Plateau with the Wind River Mountains to the North. Bretney Collection, Wyoming State Archives.

Friday the 25th.

Clear day, with a strong wind from the west. We started at 7 a.m., the emigrants ahead, having preceded us – after fording the river to the island, & travelling over it near ¼ of a mile, we again crossed the river to the main shore – Leaving it now to our left, we travelled 3 miles over a hilly, sandy road, & came to it once again – We now pursued a west course alternately ascending & descending rugged, stony hills, & occasionally travelling over the bottoms along the stream, & halted on its banks in a beautiful grassy plain at 25 m past 11, surrounded by lofty, & sandy hills, having come 8¾ miles – Just before we stopt, we crossed a small creek, which empties near here into the river. We again started at 1 P. M. & went about 2 miles, where we found the company of emigrants encamped, who went ahead of us this morning – We now again began to bear away from the river, & pursuing a west course over lofty, sandy, rocky hills & valleys alternately & crossing 4 small spring creeks, we at length encamped at ½ past 6 P. M. in a small & beautiful valley on the banks of a clear & murmuring rivulet, having come 11½ miles this afternoon, & 20¼ during the day. I noticed during our route this afternoon, on the summits of the highest hills we passed over 2 or 3 extensive ponds of water, formed by the melting of the snow – Bro. Jacob Burnham passed my wagon with a handful of the latter that he had picked up in a ravine, & gave me a portion of it, which seemed quite a curiosity to be seen in summer. The banks of the stream on which we are encamped, abounds on either side in extensive shrubbery or underbrush, which answers to us the purpose of fuel. This evening my eyes are quite sore, in consequence of the dust blowing all day in our faces the wind being in the west – The air is quite chilly this evening.

Saturday the 26th.

Clear, cold morning – so much so that we were obliged to don our over coats. – We started at 8 a.m., & pursuing a west course 4 miles we came to a stream having the appearance of being a Fork or a branch of Sweet Water running south – about 1½ miles beyond we crossed the same stream twice, first to an island & then to the main shore, running in general about the same direction – On the banks of the first of these we noticed quite a large bank of snow, apparently 8 or 10 feet deep. Travelling over a rough, sandy, & hilly country, we halted to bait at 20 minutes to 1 P. M., after having first forded another deep & rapid stream, running also serpentinely in a southern direction. This we take to be the middle Fork of Sweet Water. We were obliged, (the most of us,) to elevate our wagon beds on account of its depth – We have made 11 miles this forenoon. – To the south-west of us at this place can be seen at a distance 2 huge, high rocks, standing apparently a few rods apart – These are mentioned in Fremont’s map & journal as “Table Rock.” The banks of this stream on either side are fringed with abundance of shrubbery & underbrush – Only a few rods from my wagon this noon, in a kind of ravine, is a huge bank of crusted snow – the vegetation advancing to the very edge of it – & has the appearance, like that we saw to-day on the first stream we crossed, of being 8 or 10 feet deep. It is indeed, to me quite a singular sight, as the weather having become much warmer than it was this morning, & the sun pouring his burning rays upon us, afford us the opportunity of visioning a striking contrast between the 2 extremes, heat & cold – It is the general supposition that we cannot now be far from the entrance or foot of the “South Pass” which is 20 miles wide.[152] – While here this noon, Bro. Eric Glines rode up on a mule – he had come from the place where we left the brethren since Wednesday last. He reported that they had transferred the ferry down the North Fork about 8 miles, & that a number of the brethren were engaged in burning coal pits.[153] We again started at ¼ to 2 P. M., & journeying, as usual, over a sandy & somewhat hilly country, we encamped in a circle at ½ past 6 P. M., on the banks of the same stream we crossed at noon, in a small valley, encircled by gentle, undulating hills, having come 18¾ miles during the day, & 129¾ miles during the week, & are this evening 276¼ miles from Ft. John, & 816½ miles from Winter Quarters – Latitude this noon, 42° 22’ 42” The stream here on either bank abounds in green bushes & shrubbery of different kinds, affording us fuel. I have heard of only 2 antelope being killed to-day by Lewis B. Myers, & Sterling Driggs . To the north-west of us a great distance, we can discover a lofty range of mountains, whose summits are covered with snow. The grass here is tolerably good – The air this evening quite chilly though but little air stirring – about dark it was discovered that Bro. Heber, Geo. A. Smith, O. Pratt & one or two others who had gone ahead this afternoon to seek a good camping place, had not yet returned. – Accordingly, Brigham, Phineas Young, Porter, Colonel Markham, Howard Egan, & one or two others rode out after them – they had not gone far before they met Heber on his return – he had expected to meet our wagons coming on – he said that ahead some distance on a small stream were 10 men with pack mules encamped, on their way to the States. With these, or near them, the remainder of the brethren, (O. Pratt & others) had tarried for the night.

suffering on the trailWilliam Gilbert Gaul, On the Way to the Summit. The Donner-Reed party set out for California the same year the Mormons left Nauvoo: 1846. Delayed by a series of mishaps and mistakes, it became snowbound in the High Sierras in the winter of 1846–47 and resorted to cannibalism to survive. Sam Brannan discovered
some of their grisly remains when heading east to meet up with Brigham Young’s vanguard company.

Sunday the 27th.

Fine, clear morning, though somewhat cold – I stood on guard 1 hour watching cattle. We started this morning at 9, & soon after crossed the “dividing ridge,” which separates or forms the boundary between the waters flowing east & west into the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans. We now began to descend instead of ascending as we had done for a long time – after going about 4 miles we came across one of the mountaineers above referred to whose name is Major Harris,[154] – he has been in this western country some 20 years, & is familiar with all its localities – He has the appearance of being about 40 years of age – He did not give a very favorable account of the country in the vicinity of the Salt Lake, but spoke in high terms of a valley north of there 40 miles called Cash [Cache] valley, which is some 70 miles in length, & from 15 to 30 miles in breadth[155] – Bear river runs through it at right angles, on the west side of which the soil is sandy, & barren, except considerable wild sage, while on the east side, there is less wild sage, & quite a heavy body of timber, such as cotton wood, box elder, &c. He had quite a number of newspapers with him, some of which are published in Oregon: Among the rest was one dated Feb. 13, 1847, published by Samuel Brannan at a place in California called “Yerba Bueno” – The name of this is the “California Star” – I noticed in it a horrid account of the condition of some emigrants who in attempting to go over the mountains last fall, were frozen to death, while the survivors being destitute of food, were obliged to consume the bodies of their friends, to such an extent of hunger & suffering were they reduced.[156] – This man’s comrades have gone on to the east – he, himself talks of going back west. He advises us to take a northern route to the place of our destination, instead of going by Ft. Bridger, there being more feed on the one than the other – We proceeded about 2¼ miles further west & halted to bait at ¼ to 12 M. after crossing a small, clear rivulet abounding in small fish – having come 6¼ miles. We again started at ¼ past 2 P. M., – we travelled in a western direction over comparatively a level, sandy road, without the occurrence of any particular incident & encamped in a circle at 6 P. M. on the banks of a small spring creek, called “Dry Sandy” having come 15¼ miles to-day – This stream at this time does not run, but on the contrary lies apart in kind of springs – The grass here is somewhat thin, though very good. Major Harris has come back with us this far, & stops here to-night – This stream, as also the one we crossed this noon are probably tributaries of the Green River – The weather the latter part of the day, has been unusually warm & sultry. – Latitude this noon, 42° 18’ 58”. I have heard of but one antelope being killed to-day – done by Porter. We are still in full view of lofty mountains covered with snow. Between these we can distinguish a large hollow, & near there is probably the source of “Sweet Water.” This evening Bro. Heber again called upon me to take a walk with him – We went a short distance from the camp & knelt & prayed alternately for the members of the 2 families to which we belong in W. Quarters, & for all the Saints there & elsewhere – Major Harris has a large number of skins to sell at the following prices, viz: – elk skin, $3 – deer do. $1.50 – ready-made pants and hunting shirts, $4. –

Monday the 28th.

Beautiful weather this morning. I stood on guard last night from 12 till daylight – The horses and cattle are considerably scattered this morning in consequence of the scarcity of grass – We started at 20 minutes this morning past 7 a.m., & pursuing a west course over a dry, even & sandy road, & halted to bait at ½ past 12 M. on the banks of the Little Sandy River, having come 13½ miles – This stream is now as large as Sweet Water, being considerably swollen by the melting of the snow in the mountains – The banks are lined with shrubbery, & near its margin, the grass is tolerably good – The opposite banks are composed of sand & are quite high – The weather has grown extremely warm & sultry – We left Mr. Harris this morning at the Dry Sandy – he intends waiting there for other emigrants to come up – a number of the brethren exchanged, ammunition, & clothes of different kinds, particularly shirts with him for elk, & deer skins – he would give one of the latter for a “hickory” or calico shirt, or for 2 boxes percushing caps – I perused a paper this morning that I got of Dr. Richards, called the “Oregon Spectator”, dated March 4, 1847, published at Oregon City. The principal news contained therein, refers to the suffering condition of the emigrants, & petition to the people of Oregon to step forward & assist them, a number of them being entirely destitute of clothing, horses & cattle, wagons, &c., &c.– We forded “Little Sandy,” & pursued our journey at 4 P. M. – went west about 2 miles, & turned a little aside from the road & encamped in a circle at 6 P. M. on the banks of the same stream having come 15½ miles over a tolerably level & sandy road – Just before we arrived there we were met by Mr. Bridger & two others on horseback, – the former being the proprietor of the Fort, from whom its name is taken – They retraced their steps to camp with us to-night. Along the banks of the river on quite an extensive bottom, we found the grass quite green & high. In the distance to the west we can distinctly see this evening a line of trees marking, as we are told, the progress of “Big Sandy River” with which this running west, effects its junction, apparently a number of miles hence. – There is plenty of shrubbery & underbrush on the banks of the stream, which affords us abundance of fuel. – There were but 2 antelope killed today that I have heard of – one, a young fawn by Joseph Rooker , the other by Bro. Marble . – An interview was held with Mr. Bridger this evening at which the following information was obtained – That we were about 200 miles away from the “Salt Lake”, his fort being half the distance. The country of which he gave us a description is situated between the 2 lakes of Eutaw & Salt, consisting of a valley of 100 miles in extent. – The soil is good, producing wild flax in abundance, also white & red clover, & is peculiarly adapted to the growth of corn & wheat – Between the 2 lakes, 3 large streams coming from the mountains, traverse the valley, & empty into the Salt Lake. These abound in various kinds of fish, & their banks are heavily lined with timber, consisting of pine & oak, also quite a number of groves of sugar maple, which have been used for the making of sugar these 20 years. – That Gold, silver, copper, iron, sulphur, saltpeter, &c. are found in abundance in the mountains, he giving a description of a number of places where the above minerals were to be found – That near to the road is a spring that issues both fresh & salt, hot & cold waters alternately. He also gave a description of another valley country some 200 miles south of that, stating it to be similar to the one just described, & that wheat & corn are there raised in great abundance by the Indians. – In fine, he gave a minute description of the whole country, which differed materially from the account given us by Major Harris – The above, though not minute, is the substance of the information gleaned from the statements of Mr. Bridger & the 2 others – they are now on their way to Ft. John – They moreover told us that it would be necessary for us to start back, at least, as early as August, else we would be in danger of perishing with cold, & that the grass would, in this region, be cut off by the frost, if we deferred our departure to a later period – Orson & myself bathed this evening in the river.[157]

a riverThe Big Sandy River. Wyoming State Archives.

Tuesday the 29th.

Pleasant, though somewhat warm & sultry through the day – Mr. Bridger & his two comrades left us this morning at about 7 o’ clock, on their way to Ft. John – Soon after, we started – travelled a west course over a sandy, level road, noticing on our right & left the “Big” & “Little Sandy” Rivers, & at length forded the former stream, probably 2 or 3 miles above its junction with the latter. – Here we halted to bait at 11 a.m. having come 6¾ miles. – This stream is somewhat muddy and quite high at this time, being at the place where we forded it some 60 yds. wide – about half the teams stopt the other side as the grass was somewhat better there than here – We again started at 1 P. M., – travelled S. S. W. over a comparatively level, sandy & in some places, quite stony, road occasionally ascending & descending small hills, & encamped on the banks of the “Big Sandy” River, sometime after dark, in a circle, having come 17 miles this afternoon, & 23¾ miles during the day, the longest ascertained day’s travel since we left Winter Quarters – The river here takes a serpentine course, though its general direction is west. – The opposite banks are quite high – but little or no timber growing around – grass of the slimwirykind in plenty – There was, that I have heard of, but one antelope killed to-day, shot & brought in this evening by Henson Walker. – Latitude this noon, on “Big Sandy” 42° 6’ 42”

river crossingC. Hall, Green River. Wyoming State Archives.

Wednesday the 30th.

Warm & sultry – We started this morning, about 8 & pursuing a S. W. course along the river distance over a sandy & somewhat uneven road, with a range of low, sandy hills to our right, & encamped at noon on the banks of “Green River,” having come 8 miles – We found on our arrival, that the emigrants who were ahead of us had all got across, & were encamped some 5 miles above here – This we learned from 2 horsemen whom we found here – Immediately each Division was called together & men selected by Cols. Markham & Rockwood to make 2 rafts, & stand guard – I was chosen, with a number of others to do the latter duty, & to stand ½ a day alternately while we remain here – the 2 rafts were completed by evening – we found no difficulty in getting timber for their construction, as there is plenty of cotton wood growing on the banks of the river. This stream run[s] S. E. at this place & is quite deep & rapid, & at this place, about 100 yds. in width – From all appearances it has this spring been considerably swollen beyond its banks, the bottoms being covered with weeds, flood-wood, &c., left by the receding of the waters. – During this afternoon, we were all much surprised by the unexpected arrival of Elder Samuel Brannan, who was at the head of the company of brethren that went round by sea last year, from New York City to California– He was accompanied by 3 men, 2 of whom had come thro’ with him from the latter country – with 1 of these I was well acquainted – His name is Smith, & I believe is some distant relation to our prophet Joseph – He left Nauvoo (where I made his acquaintance,) some 2 years since for Oregon. One of the other 2 men, was one of the individuals we saw with Mr. Bridger the other day – the other man I did not know. Elder Brannan gives a very favorable account of the climate, soil, &c. of California, & appears quite anxious that we should immediately go there and take possession of the country, before it becomes occupied by others – He had left Yerba Bueno April 13th – This place is situated on the bay of San Francisco, & from all accounts, bids fair to become in time a flourishing city – He brought a number of news papers with him, which he distributed among the “Twelve” – Among these was a file of his own, entitled the “California Star.” 12 or 14 in number, Mr. Smith informed me that in Oregon they had 2 seasons, wet & dry – The former continuing 7 m, the latter – 5 months, the winters being quite mild. – I stood on guard this afternoon, & at sunset, with others, drove the horses & cattle to camp–[158]

a manSam Brannan (1819–89). Flamboyant Mormon leader, explorer, journalist, and California’s first millionaire, Brannan disagreed with Brigham Young’s choice of the Salt Lake Valley as the right place to settle. A highly enterprising gambler and businessman, his financial adventures turned sour, and he eventually died penniless. Courtesy of Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University.

Thursday the 1st of July.

Fine weather, though somewhat windy – The brethren, this morning, commenced ferrying at a very early hour, & by night had got over about 10 wagons, chiefly belonging to the 1st Division – The raft belonging to the 2d D., on trial, proved to be too unwieldy for use, consequently they commenced to-day to build a new one, which was nearly finished by night – however, the old one was used through the day. Orson stood on guard last night, the first watch. He also stood the fore part of to-day, watching horses & cattle, myself the latter part – Within 2 or 3 days past, a kind of fever has appeared & is quite prevalent in our camp, there being more than 20 men prostrated with it at this time, a number of whom are unable to sit up. – Quite a number of cattle & horses were also swam over to-day. –

Friday the 2d.

Fair day – a number of horses & cattle were swam over the river this morning, mine included. I crossed the river & with 2 others stood on guard all day to prevent the horses & cattle from straying away. Here I tried my luck at fishing & caught a good sized salmon, weighing between 2 & 3 pounds, with which kind of fish this river abounds. Towards evening the remainder of the horses & cattle were swam over. – The ferryage commenced early as usual this morning, & this evening, there are but about 18 wagons remaining on this side, including my own – There is no lack of musquitoes at this place, on account of the river, having so recently overflown its banks, & they “present (or put in) their bills” this evening, like a creditor to a debtor, greatly to our annoyance. –

Saturday the 3d.

Tolerably fair this morning, though considerably windy, with a slight rain this afternoon. – The wagons were all got over safely by about 2 P. M. – Brigham & Heber went ahead to seek a good camping place for the night – After their return we started about 3 P. M. &, proceeding a south course along the river over an even, sandy road, we at length descended a steep hill & came to an extensive bottom, where we encamped in a line at ½ past 4 P. M. on its banks, having come 3 miles. Here we found the grass quite good, though somewhat thin & short – plenty of underbrush for fuel, & swarms of musquitoes in proportion – On this side the river the banks are low & even, on the opposite high & sandy. – We have travelled the past week 65½ miles, & are this evening distant from Ft. John 341¾ miles, & from Winter Quarters, 882 miles. – Latitude at our ferrying place on Green River, 41° 52’ 37”

landscapesArtist unknown, Mormon or Temple Butte, east of Fort Bridger on Black’s Fork of the Green River. Wyoming State Archives.

This evening the brethren of the camp were called together at Pres’t. Young’s wagon to receive instructions, pertaining to our future movements. – President Young then stated that it was necessary that some individuals should go back to meet the next company of brethren, in order to pilot & assist them on the road, & that it would be advisable to select those for that purpose that had families who would need their help, in preference to single men, who had no such demands upon them. He said he was willing that 6, or even 8 or 10 individuals should go, as they deemed proper. – At length the following men were chosen or volunteered their services, viz: – Phineas H. Young, Aaron Farr, George Woodward , Eric Glines & Rodney Badger . – President Young proffered them the use of the wagon which has formerly drawn the “Revenue Cutter” – they are also to take 3 horses with them, 1 for riding the other 2 to draw the wagon. – He then stated his wish that there should be a meeting held to-morrow, commencing at 9 a.m., & this to be under the supervision of the Bishops, as himself with some of the brethren of the Twelve intended to accompany the 5 men as far as the river, to see them safely across & also to draw ashore the rafts we have left behind. – That he wished every man in the camp punctually to attend meeting at the time appointed, except those who were stationed on guard, & that there should be no fishing, hunting, &c. on the Sabbath Day. He further said, that when we arrived at Ft. Bridger, there would probably be some trading done, & that there would be men chosen for that purpose, but that if a man wished to make a trade for himself, let him do it & step aside, & not stand in the way of others who also wished a chance – that he himself had been hindered from trading by the latter circumstance, & that if they would let him trade at the Fort first, both the men & boys would get better bargains, “for,” said he, “if there is any burthen to be borne, I would rather bear it, & I consider myself better able to bear it than any other man in the church, & would rather, by throwing out $10 as a bait, lose it at once, than that any of you should lose twenty-five cents – these are my feelings, & God knows it, & so does every man who knows my heart.”

Sunday the 4th.

Warm & pleasant, with but little air stirring. – The horses & cattle were all drove down to a bottom about a mile from here, where the grass grows much more luxuriant than at this place. – Agreeably to yesterday’s arrangement, a speaking & prayer meeting was held to-day, commencing at 9 a.m., – soon after, the 5 men spoken of above started back, being accompanied by Brigham, Heber, & some others as far as the ferry. – About 3 P. M., the latter returned, accompanied by 12 of the soldier brethren from Pueblo, who had left that place the 24th ultimo – these men were originally 13 in number, one of whom, William Walker , meeting with A. Farr this morning at the Ferry, has gone back with him to meet their families – they had left the Ferry on the North Fork of the Platte, on Monday the 28th inst. – Their destination is Ft. Bridger, where they are going in pursuit of horses stolen from them near Pueblo, by French traders a part of which they recovered at Ft. John – 2, a horse & a mule being yet missing. – When they arrived, they formed in a line on horseback, near Pres’t. Young’s wagon, where, by his suggestion, 3 loud cheers & 4 “hosannahs” were given for their safe return to us. The remainder of their company, they left at the North Fork, who were intending to start the next day after their departure – these had 21 Government wagons – there was also a company of Mississippi brethren with them, consisting of 40 or 50 wagons[159] – Among those who arrived here this afternoon, were 3 of my acquaintances, viz., John Buchanan , James Oakley , & Thomas Williams , the latter being at the head of the pursuing expedition. – They informed us that the brethren at the North Fork Ferry, had been threatened by three Missourians with being mobbed, but on Luke Johnson telling them to commence as quick as they pleased, for that there was plenty of assistance near at hand, (referring to the company from Pueblo,) they thought best to desist & say no more about it – We also learned that the emigrants after getting over the river cut their rafts loose & let them drift away, being so deficient in charity that they were not willing that numbers of their own companies should cross over without paying heavily for the use of them. Bro. Amasa Lyman is also at the Ferry there, with the remainder of the brethren – he had met them on “Horse Creek,” between Pueblo & Ft. John, about 75 miles from the latter place. – An ox, belonging to Bro. Robert Crow died this afternoon. – Orson & myself used the last of our second bag of flour this evening. I omitted to mention that we got our horses reshod at the Ferry on Green River, by Bro. Burr Frost. –

Monday the 5th.

Pleasant morning, though it clouded up, & rained a very little this afternoon. We started at 8 a. m., & pursuing a south course along the river about 3 miles, we left it & bore to the right of it, & going a south west course over a stony, sandy, uneven road, we encamped on the banks of the “Black’s Fork” about 5 P. M., having come 20 miles. – This stream is a tributary of Green River, & at this place winds serpentinely in a S. E. direction, being about 8 rods in width, & quite deep & rapid. – I know of no occurrence of interest to-day, except the killing of an antelope by Lewis B. Myers. The grass here is tolerably good & there is also plenty of underbrush for fuel – A few musquitoes though not so abundant or voracious as on Green River. – This evening to the south west, we can discern, at a great distance, a lofty range of mountains covered with snow. – The twelve brethren from Pueblo, as also Elder Brannan & his 2 comrades, have travelled with us to-day & intend doing so as far as Ft. Bridger, though I know not how much farther. – This stream also abounds in fine fish of the salmon kind – I caught a small one this evening. –

settlementFort Bridger, 1850. Courtesy of Church History Library.

Tuesday the 6th

Pleasant weather – though a strong wind from the south-west – We started about 8 a.m., pursuing a south west course, over an uneven, rugged road for 3½ miles, we crossed “Ham’s Fork” – going still 1½ mile further we forded another stream, called also “Black’s Fork” – We now continued our route in the same direction, over, as usual, an uneven, sandy & stony soil, & encamped again on the banks of Black’s Fork”, (after first crossing it,) at 6 P. M., having come 18¼ miles – These streams are of uniform size & rapidity, being both tributaries of “Green River” – Just before we arrived here, we met 2 men with 3 pack-horses, who informed me that the distance to “Ft. Bridger” is about 15 miles – The grass here is tolerably good – also plenty fuel to be obtained from underbrush growing on the banks. My eyes feel quite sore this evening, owing to the excess of dust encountered to-day in travelling.

portraitJim Bridger (1804–81), one of America’s greatest plainsmen,
scouts, guides, and fur trappers, encouraged
Brigham Young to consider the Salt Lake Valley as a
permanent place to settle. Utah State Historical Society.

Wednesday the 7th.

Fine weather, though windy & very dusty travelling. – We started at ½ past 8 a. m., & travelled S. W. over, as usual, an uneven, sandy, stony road, & stopt to bait at 1 P. M. on the banks of Black’s Fork, having come 9 miles. – This stream we have crossed twice on our route this forenoon, its course being very crooked. – A short time previous to our halt, while descending a hill the reach [pole from the rear axle to the bar above the front axle] to our wagon was broken in two. – as we happened to have a spare one with us the damage was soon repaired. We again started about 2 P. M. & continuing the same course, we arrived at Ft. Bridger, sun about an hour high, & encamped in a circle about ½ a mile beyond it, having come 17¾ miles to-day. After coming in sight of the Ft. we crossed 7 small, rapid streams, before reaching our camping place – these all unite some distance below, & form the stream called “Black’s Fork.” – This is not a regular fort, as I at first supposed, but consists of 2 log houses, where the inhabitants live, & also do their trading.[160] – Adjacent to these as also about a mile back, is a number of lodges made of skins – these belong to the “Snake Indians”, a few of whom reside here – the majority of them inhabit “Snake River,” some 3 days Journey distant from this place. – I saw 2 fine trout this evening, caught by Bro. Truman Angel in this stream – these are the first of the kind I have seen, since I left Massachusetts, in 1844. – The ground where we are situated is somewhat low & wet, owing to the recent over flow of the waters, which accounts for the numerous small streams spoken of above, & consists of an extensive plain, abounding in high grass, both green & luxuriant, thus affording the best pasture land, we have seen in a long time. Thomas Williams & his company, who had come on here in pursuit of the stolen horse & mules, were disappointed in their search. The men suspected of taking them, having left here some 4 days since – There is one man here however by the name of Timothy Goodell, to whom, he, with his comrades, attach some suspicion, as being concerned in the affair, but as he has previously borne a good character from the accounts we have received of him from Mr. Bridger & others, as we came along, the majority of the brethren, are inclined to acquit him of any participation in the transaction. However, as he was anxious to leave here immediately, he gave Mr. Williams a horse in place of the mule, rather than to wait here till Capt. Brown with the remainder of the company shall come up – This place is distant from Ft. John, 397¾ miles, & from Winter Quarters, 948 miles. – The latitude of Ft. Bridger is 41° 19’ 13”

Thursday the 8th.

Fine weather, though very windy. This morning, Orson & myself went down to the Ft. & bought 2 pair of pantaloons made of deer skins. He gave for his 3 pints of sugar 2 of coffee 1 bar of lead, & a shirt – I for mine, 3 shirts & ½ box of percushing caps. In the afternoon, Orson went about a mile below there to some lodges & bought 4 pair of moccasons in exchange for some little articles he had. – I got Hans C. Hanson to alter my pantaloons as they were considerably too large. – A trifling difficulty having accurred [sic] between Andrew J. Gibbons & George Mills , the matter was, this evening, brought before Pres’t. Young for adjustment. – It appears that the former had struck the latter on account of being taunted & reproached by him, who is quite aggravating sometimes – after hearing the case, Pres’t. Young called upon the brethren of the Twelve separately for their opinion, which was in substance as follows: – That they considered they were both to blame, but of the two, Bro. George the most so, – after which the President addressed himself to Bro. George & told him, that he was an old man, & should learn to respect himself, & he would be respected, & quit all his boyish notions, & not condescend to the manners of boys but set a good example before them. He then told Bro. Andrew that he was to blame for striking Bro. George, & that it was his duty at all times to respect old age – Both parties finally acknowledged themselves to be in the wrong, & asked the forgiveness of the brethren, which was cheerfully granted. – The President then called upon the captains of 10’s to know if they knew of anything to hinder our departure to-morrow. They replied in the negative, accordingly, it was voted & carried that we start early to morrow morning. – Howard Egan, Porter, J. Redden & myself this evening rode down to the lodge of Timothy Goodell, & his comrades, where we spent the evening quite agreeably in their company. –

Friday the 9th.

Pleasant Weather, though quite windy, & dusty, disagreeable travelling – Thomas Williams with 6 of his men started back this morning, to meet Capt. Brown & the remainder of the company – 5 of the men remained & went on with us. Pres’t Young returned the horse to Mr. Goodell, which he had given up to Mr. Williams, & told him to retain it, till he should see him again. A number of the brethren have made several trades for horses, ponies, & skins, since we have been at this place. – We started this morning at 9 o’clock – proceeded some 4 or 5 miles over an uneven, stony road, & came to a small spring creek, where we halted a short time to water – a little further on we crossed the same creek, which winds through a narrow valley, with lofty hills on either side – Here we saw, & gathered considerable snow – We now ascended a hill long & steep, after travelling over which 3 miles, we descended the longest & steepest descent I have seen since we left Winter Quarters – after going about 5 miles further a S. W. course over gradually descending ground, we at length crossed “Muddy Fork”, & encamped in a circle on its banks at 4 P. M., having come 13 miles. This stream is small, & on its banks are growing a number of scattering poplar trees. – This was also the case on the other stream we crossed to-day – the grass here is remarkably coarse & tall, though quite good. –

Saturday the 10th.

Fine morning. – I omitted to mention, that Elder Brannan, with his 2 comrades, as also Thomas Brown went back with Thos. Williams, & his company yesterday morning. – We started this morning about ½ past 8. & travelling, as usual, S. W. over a mountainous, rocky country, we halted to bait at 2 P. M., in a beautiful & extensive valley abounding in fine verdure for our cattle, having come 9 miles. – A short time before we arrived at this place, we noticed a spring having a sulphurous taste. Here, also, there are 2, one of which has a taste similar to that of copperas; the other resembles that of gunpowder. – An Indian, whom we had seen at Ft. Bridger, followed us to this place – he had three pack-horses – In the vicinity of this place, on a high mountain, Lewis B. Myers took a young gray eagle from its nest – It corresponded in size with the one mentioned some time back, as having been caught by George R. Grant – We again continued our journey at 3 P. M. – we travelled some distance through the valley environed by lofty hills, & at length ascending a long & steep hill, we passed alternately over hill & dale through a beautiful, picturesque country & encamped a little after dark, on a small, clear stream having come 18 miles to-day – Our situation, this evening, is in a beautiful valley, surrounded by a gentle elevation of ground, while, far to the south can be seen a number of the lofty peaks of “Bear River” mountains, whose sides & summits are covered with snow. – John Brown has killed an antelope to-day. – Soon after our arrival, Porter rode up & informed us, that about 1½ mile distant encamped on “Bear River,” was a number of individuals who had just came through from California – among these was a man by the name of Miles Goodier [Goodyear] whom I have before noticed as being settled near the “Salt Lake” – the majority of them are bound for the States. – We have travelled during the past week 87 miles, & are this evening distant from Ft. Bridger 31 miles, from Ft. Laramie 428¾ miles, & from Winter Quarters 969 miles. –

Sunday the 11th.

Pleasant weather. – This morning the men spoken of above passed our camp on their way to the eastward. – among them was a gentleman by the name of Craig[161] – His family were in Ray Co. Mo. & thither he was now returning – he had left them in April 1846, & gone to California, where he had purchased, as he informed us, some land, near the head of “San Francisco Bay.” – He did not give a very favorable account of the country, although, in spots, he said, there is very good land for cultivation, when once “irrigated”. – He made the same statement concerning the country in the vicinity of the Salt Lake – he further said that Mr. Miles, who lived at the latter place had there made a small garden improvement, & that he had eat some of the onions, lettuce, &c. which was quite flourishing when he left – the corn had grown about 3 feet in height. – That notwithstanding all we had heard of the richness of the country, we would find it vastly over-rated, & that if we had formed an idea of its superiority, we should be disappointed. – Mr. Miles himself, gives a glowing account of the country in which he is settled – but it is the general opinion of the brethren that he does this, on account of his anxiety that we should travel through there thereby making a road, & ensuring the passage of other emigrants in that direction, which would result in his advantage.[162] – He, Porter, & one or two others have rode out this morning to find a good road to the Lake – The remainder of his company, 4 in number, including Mr. Craig, after halting here a few minutes, pursued their journey – There is a beautiful spring of water, not far from here, which is as cold & sweet as any I ever tasted. – About 1½ mile distant some of the brethren to-day discovered a spring, which contains matter of an oily nature, & considerably resembles tar in taste – Bro. Carrington calls it “Mineral Tar.” The brethren of the camp were this evening called together at Pres’t. Young’s wagon, to ascertain, as he told them, whether they would take, from here, the North or South road to the Lake – after some conversation & interchange of opinion, the former route was chosen. – Bro. Lewis Barney killed an antelope to-day. –

Monday the 12th.

Fine day, though quite dusty travelling – The majority of the camp started about 8 a. m. – Porter, J. Redden, & one or two others having lost their horses which had strayed away, Bro. Pack & myself waited for them to be found, & we all started about 9 a.m. – proceeded about 1¾ mile, & crossed “Bear River.” – We now travelled in a western direction alternately over lofty hills or mountains, & through extensive valleys, & halted to bait at noon in one of the latter – having come 9¾ miles – Here we remained about an hour & then pursued our journey – travelling over a somewhat more level road, (though in some places quite stony,) than we did this forenoon, we encamped at sunset in a beautiful valley, abounding in verdure, having come 6¾ [sic] this afternoon, & 16½ miles during the day – opposite our wagon to-night is a high mass of rock, while a little to the left is a cave in the rock, the opening of which is 12 feet in width & some 15 feet in extent – & is high enough at the mouth, to admit of a man standing upright. Pres’t. Young having been taken quite sick, remained at our noon halting place – a number of other wagons, including Heber’s also stopt there – I was attacked this morning with the “mountain fever”, as it is called, & was obliged to lie in bed the most of the day, suffering in the meantime, the most excruciating pains in my head & back[163] – This evening I swallowed 2 of Wright’s vegetable pills, & the sleep which I was denied through the day, I enjoyed quite soundly all night. – I understood there were 12 antelope killed to-day by different individuals – The cave spoken of above, was named “Redden Cave,” as it was first discovered by J. Redden[164] – It rained a little, accompanied by thunder & lightning soon after our arrival at this place. –

landCache Cave (or Redden Cave) near the top (eastern) entrance to
Echo Canyon. Courtesy of Church History Library

Tuesday the 13th.

Tolerably pleasant weather, though somewhat cloudy – During this forenoon, Bro. Heber rode up on horseback from Brigham’s camp, which is 6¾ miles back – The brethren were immediately called together, & the following companies, (consisting of 23 wagons, including Porter’s & A. Farr’s out of our 10.) viz. Captain Taft of the 1st D., & Capts. Matthews, Brown, & Crow of the 2d D., were chosen to go ahead & make a road instead of going through the “Kanyon,”[165] – under the supervision of Orson Pratt – They started about the middle of the afternoon, taking with them crowbars, & other implements, necessary to remove large obstacles from the path. – Bro. Heber returned this afternoon to Brighams camp. – Dr. Richards, Elder Woodruff & some others dug out a good spring of water near here this evening – My health to-day is much better than it was yesterday, the fever having left me. & my head ceased aching, although, I yet feel quite dizzy & weak. – Most of the brethren in the camp that have been attacked by this singular disease, have partially recovered, though some are yet quite low with it – among the latter is Father Solomon Chamberlain . The President’s health is improving, & we shall probably resume our journey in a day or two. – We had a light thunder shower this afternoon, which lasted about ½ an hour – I understood there were 6 antelope killed to-day, although I know of but 5 persons, who killed one apiece, viz., Henson Walker, Sterling Driggs, Charles Shumway, Lyman Curtis, & Shoop [Andrew Jackson Shupe], one of the soldier brethren.

Wednesday the 14th.

Warm & pleasant – The brethren in the camp are mostly engaged in repairing their clothes & wagons, & some have gone out in pursuit of game – Quite dull business this, lying by. – A meeting was held this evening at Dr. Richard’s wagon, at which was taken into consideration the propriety of removing hence a short distance, it not being deemed healthy to remain encamped on the same spot of ground for more than three days’ time. – It was accordingly voted & carried that we take our wagons over the little creek close by & there again form in regular order – Bro. W. Woodruff, who has just returned from the President’s camp, reports that his health is improving, but that Col. Rockwood is yet quite sick with the prevailing complaint. Bro. Woodruff intends to go over in the morning & bring the invalids to the camp in his carriage. – It rained considerably soon after we retired for the night. – I have heard of but 4 antelope being killed to-day, by the following men – Lewis Barney 2, Joseph Hancock, & Norton Jacobs.

Thursday the 15th.

Warm, but somewhat cloudy – Nothing of particular importance occurred during this forenoon. – about noon, Brigham, Heber, & the others who staid behind came up, soon after which, we all got up our teams, & pursued our journey. – It now commenced raining, & in fact, continued showery throughout the day – after going about a mile, we descended a long, & rather steep, sandy hill, – thence taking our course, through a beautiful picturesque valley, bounded on either side by lofty crags, we encamped in the same at ½ past 3 P. M., having come 4½ miles – the ground here is somewhat wet in places, & is covered with high grass of the best quality – The eminence to the left of us consists of a rugged mass of rock, of a reddish color, whose tops & sides are studded with innumerable cedar shrubs. – Bro. Geo. A. Smith informed me, that he saw, as we passed along, a kind of gum issuing out of the rocks in the side of the hill – This, Bro. [Albert] Carrington who is both a chemist and geologist, supposes to be of the nature of coal. – The brethren have dug a spring here, which affords very good drinking water. – I called upon President Young, soon after our arrival at this place, & was glad to find him in a state of convalescence, & in tolerably good spirits, though his pale & emaciated countenance plainly testified that he had recently been quite ill in body. – My health is now nearly reestablished, with the exception that I yet feel considerably weak in body. – The following are the names of those who went ahead on Tuesday the 13th inst. under the supervision of Captain Orson Pratt to look out a road, instead of going through the “Kanyon” –

S. Markham

O. P. Rockwell

J. Redden

N. Fairbanks

Joseph Egbert

John S. Freeman

Marcus B. Thorpe

Robert Crow

Benj. B. Crow

John Crow

W. H. Crow

Walter Crow

Geo. W. Therlkill

James Chesney

Lewis B. Myers

John Brown

Shadrach Roundy

Hans C. Hansen

Levi Jackman

Lyman Curtis

David Powell

Oscar Crosby

Hark Lay

Joseph Matthews

Gilburd [Gilbard]Summer[Summe]

Green Flake

John S. Gleason

Charles Burke

Norman Taylor

A. P. Chessley

Seth Taft

Horace Thornton

Stephen Kelsey

James Stewart

Robt. Thomas

C. D. Burnham

John S. Eldridge

Elijah Newman

Francis Boggs

Levi N. Kendall

David Grant

1st Division

7 wagons

15 men


16 “

27 “

Total –

23 “

42 “

I took supper this evening at Bro. Heber’s wagon by his invitation, with himself Bro. Clayton, Howard Egan, & Ellen – Bro. Jacobs showed me a small branch of shrub oak, that he had found growing on the top of one of the mountains in the vicinity. –

landWilliam H. Jackson, Echo Canyon Encampment (1866). Bretney Collection, Wyoming State Archives.

Friday the 16th.

On awakening this morning, I discovered it to be raining quite hard, which continued till we started, when it cleared off. – We continued our journey at ½ past 8 a.m. – passed along through the valley & halted to bait, at noon near the base of a high, rocky cliff, having a perpendicular descent of 5 or 600 feet. – Orson went to the summit, & took a view of the surrounding country, which, he said, consisted of lofty mountains as far as the eye could reach – We were again in motion about 2 P. M. – The country now assumed a more beautiful & grand appearance, the huge overhanging masses of rocks to our right, towering for several hundred feet above our heads, &, as it were, frowning down upon us with sullen majesty from their dizzy height [Echo Canyon]– A small murmuring rivulet winds serpentinely through the valley, & this we crossed a number of times – Our road sometimes leading over small hills, & at others over level ground, through dense thickets of willow, &c.– In some places the pass between the mountains became quite narrow, & on looking up we could see huge fragments of rocks projecting immediately over our heads. – Indeed, this pass is so well fortified by nature, that I have no doubt but that 10 men could successfully dispute its passage for a long time against 100 men. – We encamped at 6 P. M., in the valley, having come 16¼ miles – a short distance ahead of us can be seen “Weaver’s Fork” [likely Weber’s Fork] of “Bear River” – I omitted to mention that during our halt this noon, Porter rode up on horseback – he reported O. Pratt’s company to be some 20 miles ahead. – Father Chamberlain’s wagon axle-tree was broken in two this afternoon, & Bro. Wheeler, this evening, was obliged to go back some 2 miles after him, & bring him up in another wagon. –

Saturday the 17th.

Bright & beautiful morning. – We all got started at ½ 8 a.m. as usual. – The 10 to which Father Chamberlain belonged, remained behind till his axle-tree could be repaired, & his wagon some 2 miles back and be brought up. – We descended a sloping hill, & came to Weaver’s Fork of Weber River, when turning sharp to our right, we proceeded 1½ mile, & encamped on its banks about 10 a.m., having come 2½ miles. The reason of our stopping so soon was because President Young was suddenly taken quite ill, & could not endure to travel any further to-day. – We have travelled 39¾ miles during the past week, & are, this evening distant from Ft. Bridger 70¾ miles, from Ft. John 468½ miles, & from Winter Quarters 1008¾ miles. – The river here is bounded in places by lofty banks, & abounds in trout, of which the brethren caught a number, to-day. – The banks on either side are lined with dry and green cotton wood trees – the grass is quite good on the bottoms below – Bro. Heber, Dr. Richards, Bro. Benson, Bro. Woodruff, G. A. Smith, & a number of others this afternoon, went up into the mountains & clothed themselves & prayed in behalf of President Young, that he might soon recover his health. – There are considerable signs of bear here as you cannot walk far without seeing fresh tracks of that animal, & on the sides of the mountains can be seen places smoothly worn, where thy have slid down. – On the summits are a numerous horns of Mountain sheep – My health yesterday & to-day has been very poor, & I have suffered considerably with a fever & head-ache in consequence of having taken cold.–

Sunday the 18th.

Pleasant day – The brethren of the camp were called together this morning, before breakfast, at Dr. Richard’s wagon, where Bro. Heber addressed them. – He told them that the President is very sick – that he did not feel as if he was going to die; still he might – that it was his mind that the brethren should stay in camp & not go out hunting, & fishing, &c., but lift up our hearts to God in behalf of the President, & others of the sick & afflicted, that we may be speedily enabled to pursue our journey – He further proposed that a prayer meeting should be held, under the supervision of the Bishops, commencing at 10 a.m. – all the above suggestions were voted & carried – at the meeting held pursuant to appointment, it was also voted and carried that all, except the President, & those appointed to stay here, should pursue our journey early in the morning. I walked down to the river this afternoon, when after fishing a few minutes, I caught a very fine trout, weighing a pound or more. –

Monday the 19th.

Pleasant morning. – this morning about 8 o’clock 41 wagons went ahead (including 3 of Bro. Heber’s.) – 15 remain here, including a number of Brigham’s and Heber’s. – I also stayed behind on account of my ill health by, Bro. Heber’s advice. Soon after the main body left, we got up our teams & proceeded about 1½ mile & again encamped. – Bro. Heber, Benson, Woodruff & Egan rode ahead to survey the country – they returned about ½ past 4 P. M., & reported the road to be quite mountainous – about 2 miles ahead W. Clayton put up a guide board with the following inscription: – “Pratt’s Pass, to avoid the “Kanyon” – 74¼ miles from Ft. Bridger.” – President Young’s health is slowly improving. – I caught a small trout out of the river this evening. – Orson & 2 or 3 others has rode on ahead a short distance to view the Kanyon.[166]

Tuesday the 20th.

Pleasant weather. – Pres’t Young also much better, it was thought best to pursue our journey – We started about ½ past 5 a.m.., & after going about 1 mile we crossed the river – Leaving it & the Kanyon behind us, we now pursued a W. S. W. course through a valley over gradually ascending ground, & halted to bait & get breakfast at 8, having come about 4½ miles. A cool stream of water flows by near here – the grass is tolerably good – in about 1½ hours we were again in motion – H. Egan, Orson, & a number of others went ahead to repair the road, which now leads through alternately narrow defiles along the sides & over steep stony hills, & halted at noon to bait having in a small valley, enclosed on all all [sic] sides by lofty mountains, having come about 6 miles – The road here makes an abrupt turn to the west, which course it pursues about ½ a mile & then turns again to south-west – The same, small, cool streams [sic] runs near here, & this we have crossed a number of times on our route during this forenoon. – Bro. Heber & Benson rode on to search for a good camping place for the night – after they returned, (having found one,) we again started at ½ past 4 P. M. – going a short distance, & turning to the S. W. we ascended a long hill, & after travelling over, as usual, a rugged hilly road, we descended, – & encamped sun ½ an hour high in a valley, having come 4 miles watered by quite a large stream of pure water which crossed twice before stopping. – Here we found 3 wagons belonging to Bro. S. Goddard, Father Case, & Father Dewey – They had stopt here on account of the sickness, of

Observations at Ft. John.

By a mean of several Barometrical observations taken during three days, the height above the land of the sea, was determined to be 4090 feet.

By a meridian observation of the sun, the latitude determined was 42° 12’ 13”.

By a mean of six sights with a good Sextant, the calculated longitude west from Greenwich was, in time, 6h. 56m. 47s. 5 – equal to 104° 11' 53".

Latitude of “Warm Springs,” west of Ft. John, 42° 15' 6".

Father Sherwood, Dewey, and Artemas Johnson. Their company having camped a little way back from here last night, had gone ahead & left them this morning – we learned that G. A. Smith’s wagon had broken down – I caught a few trout this evening. – It is supposed we have come about 14 miles, but we are obliged to depend entirely upon conjecture as to the distance. Bro. Wm Clayton with his wagon having gone ahead. – My health to-day is improving, & I now have hopes of speedy recovery, unless I should suffer another relapse. – President Young, though somewhat tired, is quite comfortable this evening. –

Since writing the above, I have learned we travelled 12½ miles to-day.


[108] The “important document” Whitney refers to is the 1831 revelation to Joseph Smith on eternal/plural marriage, currently found in section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants. Secrecy was enjoined in the copying of the document since many in the camp did not yet know of, or understand, the practice of plural marriage. Only gradually was the “principle” introduced. Helen Mar later wrote of her husband’s role in writing down this revelation as follows: “The first copy of the revelation upon celestial marriage was in Bishop N. K. Whitney’s possession, when Emma Smith demanded it; but he was too much of a practical and business-like man to neglect to retain an exact copy of the original, which she destroyed as soon as it came into her possession. She thought that this act would put an end to the practice but she was disappointed in her wicked idea. In the winter of 1847, when settled at Winter Quarters, President B. Young, never having had the revelation, asked the Bishop for this copy, which was the only one in existence, and he could hardly be expected to publish it until after he came into possession of it. Previous to letting the President have it, the Bishop got his son, H. K. Whitney—my husband—to copy it for him. The day and circumstance I distinctly remember, for he told me that his father locked him in his store while he wrote it, in order that no one should disturb him.” Helen Mar Whitney, Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Reply to Joseph Smith, Editor of the Lamoni (Iowa) Herald (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1882), 26–27.

[109] Occasionally traveling performers came into town, musicians such as the enigmatic mulatto Choctaw, William McCrary, who presented a flute concert at the Council House in February, and then again in March 1847. A magician, one-man band, traveling sideshow, and musician all in one, this charlatan and opportunist called himself “Adam, the ancient of days returned,” and even convinced some men and women that he was a modern prophet. Bedding several women on the Iowa side, McCrary, who was at one time baptized, was later excommunicated and eventually ridden out of town. See also Glossary. A recent study on early Mormon race relations speculates that McCrary may even have been ordained to the priesthood and that his later excommunication may have played a role in the development of the priesthood ban on black Latter-day Saints. See W. Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 128–33.

[110] Scurvy was caused by the want of fresh fruits and vegetables, which the Latter-day Saints knew but were powerless to do much about.

[111] The 1847 plan was very much like that of ‘’46 in that a small pioneer vanguard company would go on ahead and, upon reaching their destination, plant a fall crop—in this latter case at the base, or in some valley of, the Rocky Mountains, with the larger companies of families following in their wake. Without such crops, the pale of starvation loomed over their entire enterprise.

[112] Prayer circles or rings were an extension of Mormon temple devotions in which men and women who had been endowed in the Nauvoo Temple prior to their departure from Nauvoo would come together in a circle to pray for the sick, the diseased, and those otherwise afflicted. Similar prayer rings were once common in the outdoor Methodist camp meetings of the Second Great Awakening. See D. Michael Quinn, “Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles,” BYU Studies 19, no. 1 (Fall 1978): 79–105; Hugh W. Nibley, “The Early Christian Prayer Circle,” BYU Studies 19, no. 1 (Fall 1978): 49–78; and Bernard Weisberger, They Gathered at the River: The Story of the Great Revivalists and Their Impact upon Religion in America (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1958), 20–40. For the Latter-day Saints, however, these prayer circles, in which the participants dressed in white temple robes, held special temple connotations, covenantal meaning and renewals.

It should also be noted that other forms of temple ordinances and practices were carried on at Winter Quarters, most notably that of sealings or eternal marriages, but not living endowments. Willard Richards’s octagon, sometimes unceremoniously dubbed the “potato heap,” served not only as a post office and hospital but also as a place for the conducting of temple marriages, and perhaps celestial or plural marriages as well. For more, see Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 188–92.

[113] One reason why the already-selected pioneers for the westward expedition did not leave earlier was so that they could convene a general conference of the church, the only one held at Winter Quarters. This conference was dedicated to the preparation of all things for the pending exodus and to fortify spiritually those who were to stay back.

[114] The apostolic mission of Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, and Orson Hyde to England was primarily designed to bring back tithing funds from the British Latter-day Saints. The mission failed for various reasons, particularly embezzlements of funds by one or two local leaders. However, they were successful in bringing back telescopes, theodolites, sextants, and other surveying instruments that would be of great value during their journeys west. In addition, they brought with them several faithful Latter-day Saints from Britain.

[115] Upon making camp for the night, the seventy-two wagons in this advance company were drawn in a circle, with the front wheels of one interlocking with the rear wheels of the other, with all horses and other animals remaining inside the corral, and with the pioneers sleeping in their wagons or tents. The corral was meant to prevent Indian thievery of their livestock and to serve as a defense against other forms of attack.

[116] The Platte River route was one of the most traveled by pioneers heading west. The Platte River was also one of the least navigable because of its shallow, twisting, unpredictable nature. Running east from the mountains in Colorado, it flows into the Missouri River. It was named “Platte” (translates to “flat” in French) by French explorers in Nebraska. Merrill J. Mattes, The Great Platte River Road: The Covered Wagon Mainline Via Fort Kearny to Fort Laramie (Great Plains Photography) (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987), 6.

[117] A Plains Indian tribe, the Pawnee once numbered approximately 10,000 at the beginning of the nineteenth century. For centuries they had dominated the Platte River country in eastern Nebraska but their numbers were decimated by disease and intertribal warfare. By 1846 their numbers had been cut in half and by 1873, when forcibly ejected from their lands for a new home in Oklahoma. Today the Pawnee number approximately 3,200 and are headquartered in Pawnee, Oklahoma.

[118] The decision of the Mormons to travel on the north side of the Platte River and to advance right through the Pawnee village owed much to “Father” James Case. A former employee at the government-operated farm near the Pawnee village, Case had converted to Mormonism, had spent much of the past year at the now abandoned farm and adjacent Presbyterian mission and knew the area and the Pawnee well. He also knew that his farm associates had stored a large cache of hay and provisions near the village. Thus, in addition to traveling a course not used by the California and Oregon immigrants (i.e., on the north side of the Platte River), Case made the argument that it would be better to confront the Pawnee sooner rather than later and, by providing them with ample gifts and by building on his past associations with them, ensure a relatively positive relationship between the Pawnee and the Mormons. Such a calculated gamble paid off, since the Mormons experienced very little difficulty with the Pawnee and, for that matter, with any other tribe. For an excellent study on the Pawnee Indians, see George Hyde, The Pawnee Indians (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951, 1974).

[119] The commissioner of Indian affairs reported in 1843 that there were 12,500 Pawnees and 25,000 Sioux in the eastern Platte regions. By far the Sioux were the most feared. Report of the Commission on Indian Affairs (28th Congress, 1st session, vol. 1, serial 431, Senate Documents), 277–78.

[120] By 1847 the number of buffalo on the Great Plains stretching from what is now Saskatchewan to Texas and from the Loup Fork to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains numbered almost forty million. The rapid decline and near extermination of the buffalo occurred in the years following 1865—one of America’s greatest environmental tragedies. See Frank Gilbert Roe, The North American Buffalo: A Critical Study of the Species in Its Wild State, 2nd ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1951).

[121] The “negro” mentioned here was either Green Flake, Oscar Crosby, or Hark Lay. These three black slaves from Mississippi had joined the vanguard company in Winter Quarters. Approximately eighty enslaved blacks and thirty free blacks migrated to Utah by 1850. Reeve, Religion of a Different Color, 143.

[122]“I have to write (as you can discern) as fast as I can hurry may [my] hand over the paper,” Horace scribbled in one of the few letters he wrote to Helen Mar while traveling west, “because the man is waiting to take the letters back. . . . We are now, according to my reckoning, 240 miles from Winter Quarters. . . . I feel in my heart that we shall see each other again, in the Lord’s own due time. . . . I pray for you night and morning regularly . . . in your approaching trial [childbirth]. . . . The country where we now are is infested with Sioux Indians, and it would be dangerous to send back a single messenger . . . Farewell my dear wife for the man is just starting. I remain as ever your affection [sic] husband, H. K. Whitney.” Helen Mar Kimball Whitney Papers, MSS 179, Special Collections and Archives, Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.

[123] To Brigham Young’s way of thinking, the Latter-day Saint pioneers would find their place if they followed their God. Remembering well his participation in the 1834 “Zion’s Camp” expedition that marched from Kirtland, Ohio, to near Independence, Missouri, which ended in the death of several men through disease and lack of preparation, Brigham Young was constantly concerned with the behavior of those in the “Camp of Israel.” In his revelation back at Winter Quarters in January entitled “The Word and Will of the Lord,” Brigham Young made it very clear to his people that unless they kept the commandments, “judgments would come upon them” and “your faith fail you and your enemies triumph over you” (D&C 136:42). To Young, the Mormon exodus was more a trial of faith than only a trail to follow. And as for why Erastus Snow was so roundly rebuked, he had lost Brigham Young’s spyglass without owning up to it as Brigham Young felt he should have done earlier.

[124] While such guideposts were not exclusive to the Mormon pioneers, the vanguard company of Latter-day Saints used them as an essential form of communication to the advancing companies in the rear.

[125] In this remarkable prairie conversation between Heber C. Kimball and Horace Whitney, Heber refers to how the two families were doubly connected both biologically and spiritually one to another as well as sealed in marriage to the Prophet Joseph Smith. No doubt this has reference to Joseph Smith’s sealing for eternity to Horace’s sister Sarah Ann as well as to his wife Helen Mar, Heber C’s marriage for time to Sarah Ann and the recent birth of their child, and the fact that the Whitney family was spiritually adopted to apostle Heber C. Kimball and his family.

[126] In the midst of so much darkness and death in Winter Quarters that difficult winter and spring of 1846–47, and in the absence of so many men off with the battalion and Brigham Young’s advance company heading west, many faithful, temple-endowed women took it upon themselves to dispel the devil and heal the sick and speak in tongues by right of their faith and power in the priesthood that had been conferred upon them before they left Nauvoo. These sisters did so not because they believed they held the priesthood, as they believed their male brethren did, but because they had a special commission of faith-based authority in this, their greatest time of peril and need. For more, see Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 173–89. See also Jonathan Stapley and Kristine Wright, “Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism,” Journal of Mormon History 37, no. 1 (Winter 2011): 1–85.

[127] William Clayton’s, The Latter-day Saints’ Emigrants’ Guide, 16 May 1847, 152. Disagreement persists over who actually invented the famous pioneer roadometer. Howard Egan was sharply critical of what he perceived as Harmon’s claim to invention. William Clayton also took offense at Harmon, who he thought was “trying to have it understood that he invented the machinery, . . . which makes me think less of him than I formerly did. He is not the inventor of it by a long way, but he has made the machinery.” William Clayton’s Journal, 14 May 1847, 149. But Harmon says nothing whatsoever about the matter in his journal. The definitive article on the topic is Guy E. Stringham, “The Pioneer Roadometer,” Utah Historical Quarterly 42 (Summer 1974): 258–72. Stringham argues that to Orson Pratt must go whatever credit is due, because it was he who Brigham Young suggested should “give this subject some attention.” His concept of a continuous screw amongst a series of cogs and wheels doubtless reflected his mathematical genius and ability. Nevertheless, it was Clayton’s stubborn insistence and sense of precision that initiated it all. According to Stringham, the original was long ago lost or destroyed, although a duplicate of the original is on display at the Museum of Church History in Salt Lake City.

[128] The roadometer was essential for the completion of what came to be William Clayton’s The Latter-day Saints’ Emigrants’ Guide. When the thought struck him to compile such a guide is unknown; however, Clayton kept a precise journal of the trek west, meticulously noting tables of distances, hollows, creeks and almost everything else of note. He also provided suggestions for campsites, watering places, and forage sites, as well as longitude, latitude, and altitude readings. Such a guide would prove invaluable to future companies of travelers, both Mormon and otherwise. With the approval of church leaders, five thousand copies of his guide were eventually published in St. Louis in February 1848. See W. Clayton, The Latter-day Saints’ Emigrants’ Guide, ed. Stanley B. Kimball (St. Louis: Chambers & Knapf, 1848; Gerald, MO: Patrice Press, 1983). Wilford Woodruff once commented on the great care the pioneers took in recording their travels: “It should be understood that we are piloting a road for the House of Israel to travel in for many years to come. Therefore it requires the greater care.” Journals of Wilford Woodruff, 3:185.

[129] A notable milestone of the California, Oregon, and Mormon Trails, Ash Hollow, named for a growth of ash trees, is a four-mile-long, 250-feet-deep wooded canyon in present-day Garden County, Nebraska. Not far from the North Platte River, this prairie oasis was well sought after for its shade, supply of firewood, and pure water.

[130] John Brown had led a company of Mississippi Saints in 1846 along the Platte River and as far west as Fort Laramie, inadvertently in advance of the main vanguard company of pioneers. When they finally heard that the Saints were still back in Winter Quarters, they steered south and spent the winter of 1846–47 in Pueblo. See note 139.

[131] Nebraska is well known for its mammoth and mastodon fossils. While the state has no known dinosaur bones, it is rich with proboscidean bones and fossils, or fossils from animals with trunks, found in ninety out of Nebraska’s ninety-three counties. See Megan R. Rooney, “Fossils Discovered in Ninety Counties in Nebraska,” Daily Nebraskan, 18 April 2007.

[132] The Dakota Sioux were by far the most feared of all the Plains Indian tribes, numbering at least twenty-five thousand. Ever since the Mormon pioneers had left the Pawnee Indian village, the Sioux had very likely been scouting them out. This visit of thirty-five men, women and children was likely a cordial but careful foray not only to obtain provisions but also to check out the Saints up close, to ascertain their numbers, supplies, weapons and above all, their intentions. Thomas Bullock mentions that the pioneers showed them their six shooters and fired off their cannons. Wilford Woodruff recorded that they all wanted to come into camp, “behaved well,” and departed after breakfast the next day. See Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:183, entries for 24 and 25 May 1847. For two excellent studies of the Sioux, see Guy Gibbon, The Sioux: The Dakota and Lakota Nations (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2003); also Royal B. Hassrick, The Sioux: Life and Customs of a Warrior Society (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988).

[133] Chimney Rock is a prominent geological rock formation in Morrill County, western Nebraska. Rising nearly 300 feet above the surrounding North Platte River Valley and its peak being 4,200 feet above sea level, it can be seen from thirty miles away. During the nineteenth century, it served as the most famous landmark along the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails and was often heralded by weary travelers as the halfway point to their western destinations. Due to wind and continued erosion, today’s Chimney Rock is not as high or quite as pronounced as when the Mormon pioneers first viewed it.

[134] It was a common belief at this time among the Saints that Satan was the cause of at least some of their sicknesses and afflictions, if not death itself. Such a conviction intensified at Winter Quarters when nothing seemed to stem the tide of suffering and death. Hence, the importance of casting out devils not only as a means of spiritual deliverance but also for physical protection. For more on the sickening pall of death the Latter-day Saints suffered when over one thousand died between 1846 and 1848. See Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 289.

[135] First charted in 1812 by an expedition of fur traders, Scott’s Bluff is the most prominent in a cluster of bluffs in western Nebraska. Named after a fur trader named Hiram Scott who contracted an illness and was left there by his partners to die in 1828, Scott’s Bluff is today a national monument in remembrance of his suffering.

[136] It was from the excess of lightmindedness that the “Lion of the Lord” recoiled. Remembered William Clayton of what Brigham Young said: “If any man had sense enough to play a game at cards, or dance a little without wanting to keep it up all the time, but exercise a little and then quit it and think no more of it, it would do well enough, but you want to keep it up till midnight and every night, and all the time. You don’t know how to control your senses.” William Clayton’s Journal: A Daily Record of the Journey of the Original Company of “Mormon” Pioneers from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1921), 193.

[137] Brigham Young’s jeremiad at Scott’s Bluff harked back to his Word and Will of the Lord revelation at Winter Quarters five months before. He firmly believed that they were on a divine errand, that the success of their journey depended on their obedience to covenant, that they were being tried and tested, that as with Zion’s Camp thirteen years before a scourge awaited the rebellious, and that if they were not strictly obedient the entire church would suffer. See Bennett, We’ll Find the Place, 158–60. His ‘scotch blessing’ bore almost immediate fruit. Thomas Bullock said as much in a letter to his wife shortly thereafter. “I expect you will think there is a reformation in me,” he said, “when you know that I have commenced reading the Bible through. I have already read as far as the 7th chapter of Judges, and express my gratitude to God . . . that I have already received much light and intelligence in things of which I have been a long time dark.” Thomas Bullock to Henrietta Bullock, 14 May 1847, Thomas Bullock Letters, Church History Library.

[138] The entire camp was in a repentant spirit this day, due in large measure to Brigham Young’s recent chastisement the day before. This may also explain why the Twelve separated themselves from the camp, put on their temple robes, and formed a prayer circle “a little south of the camp” some distance away. Wrote Orson Pratt of their apostolic effort to seek divine benediction for the camp: “We went out on the bluffs, and selecting a small circular, level spot, surrounded by bluffs, and out of sight, we clothed ourselves in the priestly garments, and offered up prayer to God, for ourselves, for our families, and all the Saints: President Young being mouth. We all felt well and glad for this privilege of assembling ourselves together in a retired spot for prayer.” Elden J. Watson, comp., The Orson Pratt Journals (Salt Lake City: Elden Jay Watson, 1975), 30 May 1847, 413. Clearly the temple was very much in the minds of church leaders during the exodus west.

[139] The “Mississippi company” of forty-three converts in nineteen wagons led by John Brown and William Crosby, had left Monroe County, Mississippi in April 1846 with directions to join the main pioneer camp somewhere near Grand Island along the Platte River later that summer. However, not knowing that the Saints were delayed crossing Iowa and would not be following the initial plan of heading west to the Rockies in 1846, the Brown company concluded they had missed the advance companies and headed further west to try and catch up. Upon hearing the disappointing news that the main bodies of the Saints would winter at the Missouri River, they opted to winter at Pueblo, where they arrived 7 August 1846, two months before the arrival of the sick detachment of the Mormon Battalion. The following June 1847, seventeen of the Mississippi company and battalion members met up with Brigham Young and the pioneers at Fort Laramie. He then dispatched Amasa Lyman down to Pueblo to lead the rest of the Pueblo group to the Salt Lake Valley. Thus some Mississippi Mormons, including three black slaves, were in the now enlarged party that arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 22 July 1847. Brown then returned to Mississippi later that fall and in 1848 brought out another company of thirteen families, numbering fifty-six white and thirty-four black persons who arrived in the valley in October 1848. Most settled Cottonwood, presently Holladay, Utah, named after John D. Holladay from Mississippi. Many of these southern Saints also helped settle San Bernardino in 1858 under the direction of Amasa Lyman and Charles C. Rich. The Mississippi company had joined up with the sick detachment of the Mormon Battalion at or near Pueblo, Colorado. See Carol Ann McQuilkin, “Journey of Faith: Mid-Nineteenth Century Migration of Mississippi Mormons and Slaves” (master’s thesis, California State University, Fullerton, 1995). See also Leonard J. Arrington, “Mississippi Mormons,” Ensign, June 1977, 46–51, and John Zimmerman Brown, ed., Autobiography of Pioneer John Brown, 1820–1896 (Salt Lake City: self-published, 1941).

[140] The group here referred to is the so-called sick detachment of the Mormon Battalion. After reaching Santa Fe, many had come down too ill and otherwise exhausted to complete the grueling overland march to San Diego. Colonel Alexander Donovan, commandant at Santa Fe, and Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, agreed to send a sick detachment of eighty-nine men, eighteen women, and several children on a three-hundred-mile detour to Pueblo, seventy-five miles west of Bent’s Fort. Their orders were to intersect with the main body of the church in the spring of 1847 somewhere west of Fort Laramie. Meanwhile, the main body of the Mormon Battalion reached the shores of the Pacific in January 1847, without ever firing a shot in combat, just in time to celebrate Mexico’s surrender of California to the United States. See Boone, “The Mississippi Saints,” 160–86.

[141] Overland Emigration to Oregon, California, Utah 1840–52




Yearly West Coast Total

Cumulative West Coast Total


Cumulative Grand Total























































Pre-gold rush subtotals



































Adapted from John D. Unruh Jr., The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West 1840–60 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979), 84–85.

[142] Situated at the junction of the North Platte River and Laramie Fork, Fort Laramie had been a fur trading center since 1834. In 1841 the American Fur Company erected a more substantial post, renaming it Fort John in 1842. By 1847 it was a well-established commercial trading post, complete with high timbered walls, corner towers, and two massive doors looking out over the vast plain before it. Not to be confused with the city of Laramie, Wyoming, Fort Laramie today is a well-preserved historical site situated seventy-five miles north of Cheyenne, near the Wyoming-Nebraska state line. See David W. Lupton: “Fort Platte, Wyoming, 1841–1845: Rival of Fort Laramie,” Annals of Wyoming 49, no. 1 (Spring 1977): 83–92, and Fred E. Woods, “Fort Laramie . . . Halfway to Our Mountain Home (1847–68),” Annals of Wyoming 80, no. 3 (Summer 2008): 17–32. See also Elliot Coues, ed., 40 Years a Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri: Personal Narrative of Charles Larpenteur 1833–1872, 2 vols. (1898), 1:23.

[143] The thirty-two-year old James Bordeaux was an experienced trader, voyageur, hunter, and explorer. With him at the Fort were his Sioux Indian wife, Marie, and two of their children, along with some twenty other Sioux men, women, and children. See John D. McDermott, “James Bordeaux,” in LeRoy Hafen, The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, 1965–1972, 5:68–69. Wilford Woodruff called Bordeaux “a Frenchman” and “a gentleman.” See Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1964).

[144] An archaic term, “to bait” meant to stop for rest or for food during one’s journey.

[145] Newel K. Whitney’s letter refers to the “Big” or “Emigration” Camp. Numbering 1,448 men, women, and children in 566 wagons under the direction of Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor, the Big Camp left the Elkhorn River 15 June 1847. They arrived safely in the Salt Lake Valley beginning 28 September 1847, one of the largest companies ever to cross the great plains. See Bennett, We’ll Find the Place, 254–55, 276. See also Susan Ward Easton [Black], “Pioneers of 1847: A Sesquicentennial Remembrance” (unpublished document, Church History Library).

[146] Likely referring to the Big or Emigration Camp. See note 145.

[147] Under normal conditions, crossing the North Platte at this point where it was usually four–six feet deep and sixty yards wide would have been a relatively simple matter. However, the heavy snows of the winter of 1846–47 and a quickly warming spring had swollen the Platte far beyond its banks. Then a hundred yards wide and up to fifteen feet deep, the Platte posed a formidable challenge; hence the need to ferry the wagons across. Completed in two days, their makeshift ferry consisted of two twenty-four-foot cottonwood canoes, each two and a half feet wide, placed parallel to each other, reinforced with cross timbers. Equipped with a rudder and good oars fixed for steering, it was quickly dubbed “Twins of the Black Hills.” The new ferry soon paid handsome dividends as non-Mormon companies offered to pay $1.50–$2.00 per wagon to ferry them across. Church leaders assigned Thomas Grover and several associates to stay back and operate the ferry for the rest of the season. For more on the “Mormon Ferry,” see Dale S. Morgan, “The Mormon Ferry on the North Platte: The Journal of William A. Empey, May 7–Aug 4, 1847,” Annals of Wyoming 21 (July–October 1949): 110–67; see also We’ll Find the Place, 183–84, 198–200.

[148] The Sweetwater River is a tributary of the North Platte River. Running 238 miles through the state of Wyoming, the river was named for its desirable taste. In the early 1800s it was called “Eau Sucrée” (meaning Sugar Water) by French trappers. The Americans called it the Sweetwater River.

[149] Independence Rock—“The Great Register of the Desert”—was so named because so many pioneer companies arrived in its vicinity on or near Independence Day, the Fourth of July. An isolated granite outcropping in the Sweetwater Valley, Wyoming, it stands 6,028 feet above sea level with its northern summit reaching 136 feet above the surrounding terrain. Its mass covers an area of almost twenty-five acres. Robert L. Munkres, “Independence Rock and Devil’s Gate,” Annals of Wyoming 62, no. 1 (April 1968): 24–25.

[150] Saleratus is a yeast-like alkaline substance made of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) that appeared along the shores of the small lakes in the region and which the Native Americans called “Indian Bread” because of its loaf-like appearance. Travelers often scooped it up by the bucketload to use in leavening bread and light cakes.

[151] Just west of Independence Rock lies Devil’s Gate, a natural gorge running between two high, rocky ridges some 380 feet high and 200 yards long. Named by the Shoshone and Arapahoe Indians for a long-ago mythical beast who, when wounded, dug out the gorge with its horns, this narrow cleft has been carved out by the Sweetwater River over eons of time. It is virtually impassable and required wagon companies to travel either north or south of this rocky prominence.

[152] South Pass, elevation 7,412 feet, is located in a broad, low region of southwest Fremont County, Wyoming. The “Cumberland Gap” of the West, South Pass was discovered in 1812. So named to distinguish it from Lemhi Pass in present-day Montana, by the 1840s it had become the favorite passage over the Continental Divide. The pass is like a saddle with prairie and sagebrush, allowing a broad, nearly level route between the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds. Will Bagley, South Pass: Gateway to a Continent (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014).

[153] This region of Nebraska, and more particularly areas to the northeast, features coal veins that appear on the surface. In the 21st century, Wyoming has become the greatest coal-producing region of the United States, surpassing even Appalachia in tonnage of coal annually extracted.

[154] Moses “Black” Harris, so named because of his swarthy, dark complexion, was a native South Carolinian born approximately 1804 in Union County. In all likelihood, he was a member of W. H. Ashley’s first fur-trading company up the Missouri in 1822 and in another Ashley party in 1825 led by Jedediah Smith. He had circumnavigated the Great Salt Lake as early as 1825, visited the headwaters of the Yellowstone in 1826, and traveled through the Wind River Valley in 1828 and 1829. He later led several expeditions of rendezvous parties west from St. Louis. After 1840 he became a trusted, if rather expensive, guide for Oregon emigrant trains. A stranger and an enigma even to his fellow mountain men—“a bird alone” in the wilderness—he was known for his tall tales and colorful yarns, the West’s most famous entertainer around a campfire. He died in St. Joseph, Missouri, in May 1849 of cholera. See Jerome Peltier, “Moses ‘Black’ Harris,” in Hafen, The Mountain Men, 4:103–17.

[155] A rich agricultural region in northern Utah, Cache Valley was discovered in 1818 by Michel Bourdon. Its name was derived by fur trappers who hid (French cacher) their goods in caches in the region. Mormons began to settle the area in 1852 and established Logan as its central city.

[156] The Donner or Donner-Reed party set out for California in a wagon train in 1846. Slowed by their choice to follow the Hastings Cutoff, which crossed the Great Salt Lake Desert, the party did not reach the high Sierras until November 1846. Impeded by heavy snowfalls and afflicted by starvation, some of the immigrants resorted to cannibalism to survive. Tragically, of the eighty-seven members of the original party, only forty-eight survived to reach California. For the standard early study of Donner party, see C. F. McGlashan, History of the Donner Party: A Tragedy of the Sierras (Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2013; originally published in 1880). For a more recent study, see Peter R. Limburg, Deceived: The Story of the Donner Party (Pacifica, California: IPS Books, 1998).

[157] Contrary to some popular misconceptions, Jim Bridger, then forty-three years old and a trusted mountain man, knew all about the country south of Salt Lake and spoke well of it. He was far more positive and encouraging of a settlement in the Salt Lake Valley than Moses Harris had been. Said Norton Jacob of Bridger’s views: “The information obtained concerning the Utah country is very encouraging.” Journal of Norton Jacob, 28 June 1847, Church History Library. For more on Bridger’s positive statements, see Bennett, We’ll Find the Place, 192–94.

[158] A fellow Latter-day Saint, the thirty-eight-year-old Sam Brannan had led a group of Mormons on a ten-thousand-mile ocean voyage from New York City around the southern tip of South America to Yerba Buena (San Francisco) onboard the Brooklyn. Brannan had just traveled eight hundred miles overland on horseback from San Francisco Bay. Having compared the arid shores of the Salt Lake with the golden shores of California, Brannan was convinced the Saints should go all the way west to the Pacific Ocean. His eyewitness account of the blighted Donner-Reed party certainly held the attention of his newfound visitors. However, Brigham Young was as skeptical of the man as he was of his message and gave his visitor little or no encouragement. Brannan’s California Star was San Francisco’s first newspaper. Brannan later left the church and became California’s first millionaire through gambling and horse racing, but died in obscurity and poverty in 1889. The “Mr. Smith” who accompanied Brannan may have been Charles C. Smith, a distant relative of Joseph Smith. In Nauvoo he had associated with criminals and men of bad character. Much has been written on Brannan, including Will Bagley, “‘Everything Is Favorable! And God Is On Our Side’: Samuel Brannan and the Conquest of California,” Journal of Mormon History 23, no. 2 (1997): 185–209. For arguably the most colorful biography of Brannan, see Paul Bailey, Sam Brannan and the California Mormons (Salt Lake City: Westernlore Press, 1943).

[159] For information on the Mississippi company, see note 138 above. this might have to change as footnotes are added and subtracted.

[160] Established in 1842 on Blacks Fork of the Green River, Fort Bridger was a famous fur-trading outpost and supply point for wagon trains on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. Established by the well-known mountain man Jim Bridger, Fort Bridger was later purchased by the Latter-day Saints and served as a military post in 1858. It was finally closed in 1890. See Fred R. Gowans and Eugene E. Campbell, Fort Bridger: Island in the Wilderness (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1975).

[161] This group consisted of John Craig of Ray County, Missouri; Samuel Truitt from Shelby County, Illinois; and two unidentified California immigrants. Craig had set out from Fort Hall with only two wagons and seven other men to travel to California in the spring of 1846. Wilford Woodruff learned from Craig’s party that a woman he had baptized was among the dead of the Donner-Reed party. See Harold Schindler, “Mormon Trail Series,” Salt Lake Tribune, April–July 1997.

[162] Goodyear Ranch owed its beginnings to Miles Morris Goodyear, credited by historians as the first white settler of Ogden and of the state of Utah. He had taken part in westward expeditions since 1836 but did not erect his ranch or fort in the Weber River country until 1846. Goodyear died in 1849. See Dale L. Morgan, “Miles Goodyear and the Founding of Ogden” (two-part series), Utah Historical Quarterly 21 (July, October 1953): 195–218, 307–29.

[163] Brigham Young was suffering from “mountain fever” which was probably Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Colorado tick fever. Caused by the bite of wood ticks, this form of typhus could be a fatal affliction. For excellent studies on this topic, see Victoria A. Harden, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A History of a Twentieth-Century Disease (1990), and Jerry K. Aikawa, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1966). See also J. A. Aldous and Paul S. Nicholes, “What Is Mountain Fever?,” Overland Journal 15 no. 1 (1997): 22–23.

[164] Redden Cave, also known as “Cache Cave,” is located about one mile south of I-80 in upper Echo Canyon, Utah. The cave is famous for the large number of pioneer names and inscriptions carved into its soft sandstone.

[165] Editor’s Note: Whitney inserted his own footnote as follows: “Kanyon – a confined stream of water, flowing between rocks.”

[166] Following a trail blazed by Orson Pratt, the main company travelled down Echo Canyon and camped on the Weber River near present-day Echo, Utah. Choosing not to go down Weber Canyon because of its virtual impassability, they followed the Donner-Reed trail west, ascended Main Canyon from present-day Henefer, crossed the Hogback (Reed’s Pass) Summit, and descended Dixie Hollow before climbing a final hill (Big Mountain) to their camp at the site of the east Canyon Reservoir and eventually down Emigration Canyon. Will Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints: The 1846 and 1847 Mormon Trail Journals of Thomas Bullock (Spokane: Arthur H. Clark, 1997), 228–29nn. See also Bennett, We’ll Find the Place, 212–13. The final thirty-five miles from Big Mountain to the mouth of Emigration Canyon were by far the most difficult of the entire journey.