Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, eds., A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997), 411–479.
In Helen Mar Whitney’s final chapter, published from 1 December 1884 to 15 August 1886, she tells the story of the winter camp of the Saints in the Missouri Valley. Again utilizing other sources, including Horace K. Whitney’s journal and letters by Fanny Young Murray and Newel K. Whitney, she includes more personal comments in this series than she did in some of the other chapters. Helen describes in detail the main Latter-day Saint settlement, Winter Quarters, located at present-day Florence, Nebraska. By 20 December 1846 it consisted of nearly 3,500 residents in 538 log houses and 83 sod houses, with 814 wagons, 145 horses, 29 mules, 388 yoke of oxen, and 463 cows.
Helen tells us of the day when the first vanguard pioneers left Winter Quarters in April 1847 on their way to a new promised land. The feeling of joy mixed with sorrow at the departure of those first pioneers, including her own husband, was overshadowed when Helen delivered her first child, a “beautiful and healthy girl baby.” Because sickness was “raging in [their] midst,” the child died. Helen adds: “Thus the only bright star, of which my doting heart had clung, was snatched away.” During this season of mourning, Helen met with the sister-Saints two or three times each week, as she had been doing throughout the winter of 1846–47. Her recollections of those times provide an important window into the religious experience of Latter-day Saint women during this difficult but rewarding period. “There were many great and glorious manifestations “during their meetings which uplifted them, providing for those women “spiritual armor necessary to sustain “ them.
Helen continues her narrative relating the continual flow of Saints from Winter Quarters during the 1847 emigrating season. Finally her husband, along with several other members of the first pioneer companies, arrive back at Winter Quarters to prepare to bring their families to the Great Basin beginning in the following year.
Helen ends her long series of Church history and personal reminiscences with a final article published in August 1886. She tells her readers why she is ending this popular column in the Woman’s Exponent: “I will now say to my kind friends and all who have taken an interest in the historical sketches which I have gathered up that the changes which have come to me since I began this pleasant duty, the increase of care and responsibilities thrown upon me through the death of my husband, with various duties which require my attention, I must resign this one at least at the present. “ She assures the readers that her story is only part of the larger story of Mormonism: “Every one of us [has] a mission upon this earth.”
Of course it is her faith that has sustained her in the journey through life. She concludes her last article quoting from a letter of the First Presidency at Winter Quarters to Elders Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, and John Taylor, that “every tongue [will confess] that Jesus is the Christ, “ ending her description of the “journey and sojourn of the Latter-day Saints in the wilderness” with a statement of expectation. Given the political realities of 1886 during the height of persecution against the Saints, Helen radiates deep faith in what she believes are the promises of the Lord, in the prophetic leadership of the Church under attack from its enemies, and in herself—as she continues to experience the trials, sacrifices, and joys of life as a committed disciple.
The evening after the departure of Bishop Whitney, Brothers Woolley and Van Cott, a council was held at Bro. Russell’s tent, where a committee was chosen to select locations for the winter, between the village and the Old Fort, as sanctioned by the Indians. Committee’s names: Fathers Eldredge and Cutler, Bro’s A. P. Rock-wood, Winslow Fair, and J. M. Grant. They started next day, though the weather was stormy, and continued so two or three days. * * * *
“Sunday, the 30th. Meeting was held at the stand commencing at 10 a.m. Elder O. Pratt opened the meeting by prayer and said he would endeavor to occupy the time, by the President’s request, till he and Bro. Kimball should arrive. He then spoke on general matters for a while, when, the President arriving, he said he would stop, but by his request he proceeded. His subject was the necessity of education to the elders of Israel, and to the children in the camp. He was followed by Bro. Kimball, who spoke in corroboration of his remarks, and spoke at some length on the government of the kingdom of God.
“Horace Eldredge, the Marshall, then arose and told the congregation of the late resolutions adopted by the council.
“President Young succeeded him, and spoke at some length, sanctioning what Bro. Kimball had said, and then went on treating on miscellaneous matters, and gave a great deal of good instruction. After singing by the choir, the meeting was closed with prayer by Jedediah M. Grant.”
On the 14th my husband’s journal mentions B. Young, H. C. Kimball and others still being engaged in laying out city lots.
Bro. Joseph Harvey’s wife died on the morning of the 6th. She had been very ill for some time—”He had recently come from Nauvoo, and had spent a great deal of his time and substance in fitting others out for the journey before he started himself, the consequence is that he is very sick himself. His wife left three small children. Bro. Kimball had him put into Daniel Davis’s tent that he might be nearer to us, and thus have better care and more attention paid to him.”
The next day being warm and pleasant some of the boys were engaged in cutting the drawing house logs. Horace speaks of attending council that evening with my father, President Young and others of the brethren. He says:
“It had already commenced when we arrived; they were reading a report brought by one of the brethren who came from the Punkaw nation; the substance of which was, that Bishop Miller’s company were located on a stream called Running Water, or Punkaw river, and two hundred miles from this place; that they were uniformly used well by the Indians, had good forage for the cattle, etc. Bro. Grant, by vote of the council gave an oral report of his visit to the village at the point.
He had seen Mr. Sarpee and he was willing that we should remove the ferry boat to the new place that we had selected, as he had a Mackinaw boat of his own that would answer his purpose. Mr. Sarpee also informed him that he had lately seen a Dr. Mann, who, he said, was at the massacre at Haun’s Mill in Missouri, and a regular mobocrat, who told him that the state marshal of Missouri, with a posse, was on his way here to arrest the Twelve. Bro. Grant also stated that the Secretary of War had written to the Indian agent to have the Mormons leave the Pottawotomie lands on the other side of the river as soon as may be.”
He mentions seeing a letter written by Sister Diantha Billings to “Brother Kimball’s folks,” in which is recorded a specimen of Indian justice. It appears that one of the young Punkaw Indians had shot an arrow into one of Bro. Brigham’s cattle, for which misdemeanor he was taken by the Indians of his own tribe and “whipped, his pony shot and one of his own eyes dug out.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 13, no. 13,
1 December 1884, p. 98
On Monday, 31st, Horace wrote: “Tonight, about ten o’clock, we were routed from our beds by the cry of, ‘All hands repair to the center of the camp’; which was done, when the men were sent back after their guns, etc., and then Brother Kimball proceeded to tell them the object of their coming together. It appears that a rumor that troops were on their way there to arrest the Twelve had come to camp—that they had crossed the river somewhere down in the settlements, and were on their way here, therefore it was thought necessary for every man to be properly armed and equipped, and that a guard should be kept up nights to keep all spies from going to and from the camp. These things being attended to, and every man told to arm himself to obey the orders of the foreman of the division to which he belonged, the meeting was dismissed.”
They had received this news through the medium of Mr. Sarpee, who was living in the village.
“Tuesday, 22nd. This morning, at ten o’clock, the men in the camp were all requested to meet at the springs in the valley below our camp. President Young then addressed them and told them the object of our coming together, which was to organize ourselves into companies for self-defense. A vote was taken, whether we should retain the old officers of the Nauvoo Legion as captains of companies, etc., or choose new ones. The vote was unanimous in favor of the former proposition. Brother Kimball’s boys and myself attached ourselves to the company of artillery under Captain Jacobs. A vote was finally taken whether we should remove immediately to our winter quarters, as affording us a better place for conveniency and self-defense. It was decided in the affirmative, and that we commence to remove tomorrow—one division at a time, the brethren assisting each other in so doing. The companies were dismissed into the hands of their respective officers, with the caution to be on the alert, and ready at a moment’s warning to be called out by night and by day as occasion may require. The captains dismissed their companies with the same admonition.
“Wednesday, 23rd. Being misty today, rather inauspicious for our removal: A number of the brethren with teams came to our assistance, and we arrived at our winter quarters about 1 o’clock p.m., which is three miles from Cutler’s Park. We are located on the second shelf of the river bottoms, which is laid out in the form of a city, five acres in each block, consisting of twenty lots. The city, as laid out, occupies, or takes in, from 6 to 800 acres of ground. * * * * * This evening Squire Wells and Wm. Cutler arrived from Nauvoo. They have been six days coming from that place. They came in a buggy. One object of their coming is to get teams to send back for the poor brethren, who are not able to come without assistance.”
They brought considerable news, and next morning came to our tent and remained for an hour or more, telling the particulars of the late battle between 100 of our brethren and 1000 of the mob who came to attack the city, and were kept at bay by the little force, who compelled them to retreat, with considerable loss, as supposed, although the mob would not acknowledge the loss of a man. There were three killed on the brethren’s side and three wounded. The action lasted an hour and twenty minutes, and took place between Winchester street and Squire Wells’s house—in the neighborhood, where my father had built his first house. The place was then called Commerce. The mob had six cannons, besides their small arms; the brethren five cannons. President Young, my father and a number of the Twelve, and some others were present at our tent to hear him relate the affair, after which Dr. Richards read the articles of the capitulation of the city of Nauvoo, which took place on the 17th inst.
The next day Horace wrote: “Council held today near Brother Taylor’s tent. Squire Wells related to the people the circumstances that lately transpired at Nauvoo, and said that there were a great many brethren in very indigent circumstances, who would not be able to come away without assistance. Consequently the council determined to raise teams and send back for them—it was thought advisable, first, to get all the teams they could of those who had built houses on the other side of the river, at Mount Pisgah and Garden Grove, because they being, in a great measure, prepared for the winter, could better spare their teams than we who have not yet built a single house, except the one that Brother Kimball brought down from Cutler’s Park.”
Squire Wells and Wm. Cutler started on the 28th. On the first of October Horace mentions going with several of the boys haying, and the same evening he played the violin at a party held at his father’s tent, on the anniversary of his little sister Maria’s birthday.
On the 3rd he says: “Brother Lathrop and another brother arrived here from Miller’s camp; they had been stripped of nearly all they possessed, and moved away from Bishop Miller’s, some distance, when they had concluded to come down here, supposing it to be only thirty miles—they traveled six days, and arrived here at last, having nothing to eat during that time, except a wild goose, a rabbit and a turtle that they killed on their route.” He speaks also of the band meeting that evening, or part of them, and says, “I joined them and played with them. I am to play the instrument (flute) formerly used by Andrew Cahoon, who expects to start shortly for England”; also of experiencing a very severe frost that night, for the first time that season. We had had considerable rainy, windy and disagreeable weather. A few days after our removal the wind was so severe that our tent and a number of others were blown to the ground.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 13, no. 15,
1 January 1885, p. 115
The next important event was the arrival of Almon W. Babbet and wife from Nauvoo. This was on the evening of the 6th. He brought considerable news; said the mob had complete possession of the place, the temple and all. They had several mock ceremonies with different individuals—had baptized Daniel Davis three times. He saw Bishop Whitney, who barely escaped, and was obliged to leave Nauvoo secretly and speedily for St. Louis. He stated that the mob had plundered numbers of buildings, among which was the house of Bro. Joseph Heywood, who was stripped of nearly everything he possessed. They had defaced the temple considerably, both inside and out. The shore of the city and all the approaches to the city were strictly guarded to prevent the ingress of “Mormons,” and when any man was found they immediately baptized him and sent him over into Iowa. Mr. Babbet was advised by the council, which had met to arrange some difficulty between some of the brethren, to remain with us, but he seemed not very anxious to do it.
On the morning of the 9th he and wife started back. Little John Smith, who had come from Nauvoo with my father’s family, went with them to meet his mother, who was about 150 miles back, near Mount Pisgah. My husband mentions the death of Miss Eliza A. Peirson, a niece of Dr. Richards, at his tent, on the evening of the 10th.
He says: “She had left father and mother far behind to join the Saints of God in the wilderness, to suffer and die among them for the gospel’s sake. She was a worthy, exemplary young woman, and the remembrance of the many happy hours I have spent in her society, together with her sisters and friends, will never be obliterated while time shall last. She was from Richmond, Massachusetts, where I became acquainted with her during my sojourn in the eastern states.”
Under the same date is written the following: “I. Redding returned from the Pawnee village this evening, whither he had been by appointment to assist some families to remove back here, whom Bishop Miller had left sick and destitute.” Bishop Miller had now become a confirmed apostate. He had drawn away a few weak and disaffected persons and some, who, like himself, were corrupt at heart. They were afterwards distinguished as Millerites. Many of those who had traveled in his camp returned to headquarters.
On the 13th Horace speaks of a large camp of Omahaws making considerable noise and tumult in the village below, having received their payment from the United States. “The amount of money paid to them is $50,000, which was brought up by land accompanied by a guard of twelve men. * * * It is said that the Indians are killing our cattle in great numbers below here, and they have been here with beef to sell; no doubt the relics of some of our cattle.”
On the evening of the 14th my uncle, Wm. Murray, Bro. Harvey Green and Mr. Hovey arrived from Nauvoo with their families, some of them being very sick. They had been three weeks on the road. They brought additional news, and according to their statements the mob was pretty busy plundering houses, ripping open feather beds and scattering the contents in the street, knocking the horns from the oxen on which the font was built, and running about the streets imitating the blowing of horns with them and doing other acts of sacrilege. They had also torn down the altars and pulpits in the temple, and converted the edifice into a meat market. The same spirit is rampant today, and threats of a similar character have been made by our enemies for years past, but have been restrained by Him who has said: “Thus far shalt thou go and no further.”
But to return: On the 15th Horace wrote, “Bro. W. Woodruff was brought into the camp this afternoon from the woods severely injured by the fall of a tree. Prest. Young, Bro. Kimball, O. Pratt, Dr. Richards and Joseph Young laid hands on him, after which he appeared much relieved.” He speaks of Bro. Pond and family arriving on the 16th, and all being quite sick with the ague. Concerning the Omahaws he says, “They are located about ten miles below here, where they intend to remain this winter. They have had for some time in contemplation a grand buffalo hunt, which they have abandoned in expectation of living and sustaining themselves by the killing of our cattle instead, which they are frequently detected in driving off.”
Sunday, the 18th, the weather being tolerable meeting was held at the stand. “The subject of our molestation by the Indians was taken into consideration. It was thought to be necessary to build our houses in a more compact body and form our wagons in a circle, that we might be better able to defend ourselves against their encroachments. This was the advice given by the interpreter who attended meeting with some Indians at the stand.” It was further deemed proper to send out different companies in different directions after the cattle. The companies were organized, each consisting of twenty-one men. Brother Winslow Farr, Z. Pulsipher and J. Redding were appointed to go on the same business, as captains of companies.
On Tuesday morning a general turnout was made to go and drive in the cattle, in conformity with the arrangements made at the meeting. They spent a number of days hunting them, and all that were found were put into Father Cutler’s yard, which was appointed as the place of rendezvous, where the brethren might come and each select his own cattle. In the afternoon of the same day, the men who were left in camp were summoned to go down on the bottom and put out a fire, which was raging greatly, and had already burnt a number of haystacks. “But,” Horace says, “notwithstanding all our efforts, we could not entirely subdue it. * * Brother Kimball went and burnt round our stack in order to save it. The brethren at last succeeded in turning the fire in such a direction that it should not do much injury.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 13, no. 17,
1 February 1885, p. 131
My husband wrote: “Wednesday, the 21st, fine day—this morning, by request of Brother Kimball, went down to the ferry, six miles from here; found them just crossing the river. Little John Smith and myself drove up the loose cattle and arrived at the camp a little after dusk. The family all got here soon after.
“Bishop Whitney, Bros. Woolley and Wright arrived from St. Louis on the 26th. The goods—amounting to about sixty tons—had to be brought up from St. Joseph by teams. Brother Woolley returned to take the charge. Eight teams were started the 2nd day of Nov.”
On the 6th Horace speaks of Wm. Clayton and George Grant “returning from the village on the other side of the river, whither they went on business for the Church. Bro. Clayton informs me that he never saw such a swindling operation as that practised on the Indians down there—they received their payments in money and were then followed by a gang of sharpers, who watching their opportunity, get them drunk and then gamble with them and cheat them out of all their money.”
Sunday, the 8th, he mentions the “Omahaws going through our settlement, their horses loaded down with tent poles, baggage, etc., on their way north to the Grand Hunt.”
Saturday, the 7th, he speaks of being engaged in roofing and sodding the house, into one room of which we moved that evening.
He says: “We congratulate ourselves considerably upon being able to live in a house again, as we have got thoroughly tired of living in tents.” We continued to use our wagon as a bedroom till the 30th, when it was wanted to bring produce from the country. By this time quite a number of houses had been put up. This one contained a number of rooms, built in a row, between my father’s and Bishop Whitney’s main buildings. One room was used by father for storing provisions, etc. My sister-in-law, Sarah, with whom we had tented so long, occupied a room adjoining ours, though it was not yet ready for her to move into. We lived in ours one month before it was entirely finished.
On the 8th of Dec. Horace mentions being engaged “mudding up his room,” his brother Orson assisting him. This, like the majority of the houses, was covered with sod, and the chimneys were built of the same. Each room had one door and a window with four panes of glass, but no floor. I was rather unfortunate, first, in having a chimney that seldom drew the smoke, particularly when the weather was cold enough to need a roaring fire in front of a good sized back-log, and then being prostrated on my bed from the 23rd of January till along in March; it gave me the opportunity of cultivating the qualities of patience and calmness under new vicissitudes, from which there was no alternative, only to endure them with as good grace as possible, for many of the Saints were still without a roof to cover them; but I shed many unbidden tears during the smoking period, lasting one month, when finding that our fireplace built of sod was about to tumble down, they had some brick brought from the rubbish of the old fort of Council Bluffs, and built a new one. Thus ended our trouble from that quarter. We had been accustomed to trials from smoke, heat, wind and dust, and many other things of an unpleasant nature during camp life, and we took considerable pleasure in fixing up our little homes. Our floors we managed to cover with canvas or pieces of carpeting, which had outlived the storms and the wear and tear while journeying from the states. We made curtains serve as partitions to divide the bedrooms, repositories, etc., from the kitchen. Most of our furniture we had made to order—such as cupboards and bedsteads—they being attached to the house, also tables, chairs and stools, and an occasional rocking chair, relics of other days, graced our ingleside. I was fortunate in having one of the latter, which I had brought with me. And here I received my “setting out” in crockery ware, etc., which, though not very extensive, was deemed quite immense for those times. Our marriage taking place just as we were about starting from the states, the presenting of these needful articles was postponed till a future time, expecting, as we then did, to cross the Rocky Mountains before building houses to inhabit. Two or three pieces I have still, which I keep in memory of the various and peculiar scenes through which we have passed together; as well as the loved ones who have passed away.
The larger houses were generally shingled and had brick chimneys and puncheon floors, with a six lighted window to each room. Father’s largest house contained four good sized rooms on the ground and two upstairs. My bro. William and family lived in one room, my mother, her four little boys, three or four young men and two young women who had been adopted, and two of father’s wives occupied the rest; the women assisting in sewing and housekeeping. My mother had been for some time in very feeble health, and her youngest child, who was so sick with whooping cough, when starting from Nauvoo, was taken care of by Mary Ann Sheflin, one of father’s wives who lived in the row. She, having charge of him most of the way on the journey, she loved him as though he had been her own child.
Horace wrote on the 12th, “Bro. Kimball, Bishop Miller and myself went to Brigham’s house, which is just finished, in honor of which we spent the evening in dancing. Bro. John Kay sung a few songs and the company dispersed, having had a real good ‘house warming.’ Bishop Miller, Peter Hawes and L. Woodworm slept at my house tonight on the floor. The latter is quite sick with the fever. * * * * The brethren, for the last two or three days, have been in council with Bishop Miller, trying to take action on his case before he goes back to the Punkaw nation.”
The bishop had just returned from the country, where he had been, with others of his company, for produce. He left for home with part of his company on the 15th. Many of the brethren had gone down into Missouri to work or to trade for provisions, which consisted, mostly, of corn and bacon; the latter, with cornmeal cakes, was our main subsistence during the winter. Vegetables, and many of the necessaries of life were not obtainable. Indian meal cake and puddings we considered very nice when used as rarities, as we were accustomed to doing in the east, but when we had little or no change, they became somewhat nauseous, particularly to the sick and delicate.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 13, no. 18,
15 February 1885, p. 139
The same date Horace wrote, “This evening Porter arrived, bringing Emmeline’s sisters and brother, their mother having died on the way.”
Emmeline, the present editor of the EXPONENT, was then the wife of Bishop Whitney, and her little sisters and brother were received and cared for, as were other members of his family—being under the charge of Sister Emmeline and Mother Whitney.
“Saturday, the 21st. * * This evening Brothers Egan, Stephens and Gulley came in from the army. Brother Egan informed me that they had been to Santa Fe, and that most of the brethren in the army had gone from there to California. These brethren came back for counsel.” The same day a number of teams came in from St. Joseph with goods.
The next day, Sunday, Brother Woolley arrived. Meeting was held at the stand. The main subject was the sending off of a lot of men in the spring, also a few families, and the remainder to stay at Winter Quarters. The evening of the 24th Horace says: “Brothers Kimball and Brigham met with two men (mountaineers) from the Salt Lakes, where they have been settled for sixteen years. They narrated their adventures and gave an account of the climate, etc, which was quite interesting.”
The same day in speaking of the weather he said, “There seems to be a particular disposition of Providence in our behalf, for although we have had several cold, frosty nights the weather has been remarkably mild for winter, and we have not, as yet, experienced the first snowstorm, as is usual in other countries.”
The night of the 24th he speaks of experiencing the heaviest frost of the season.
The next day he wrote: “Most of us, viz., Howard Egan, John Davenport, Dan Davis, Jacob Frazier and myself, engaged in cutting and drawing wood from the bottom close by. Brother Kimball cautioned the folks this evening against using our wood lavishly, sitting up late at night and keeping a fire burning, as, he said, before the winter was out it would be a very scarce article.” We had previously learned that the Pottowatomie agent had forbid us to cut any more timber on the other side of the river. He wrote:
“Friday, the 27th. This evening Brother E. Benson got back from the eastern country, where he has been on business. I learned that a brother who went with him, and who had some pecuniary expectations from some of his friends, was taken up for insanity, because he belonged to the ‘Mormons,’ and in order to cheat him out of his property.
“Sunday, the 29th. * * Meeting was held at the stand, at which it was determined that every man should immediately turn out and assist in making the raceway, in order that the mill may be finished speedily. Brother Kimball called his family together for the purpose of giving them good instruction.”
The 1st of December there came quite a change in the weather—the wind blowing from the north. That day Horace mentions being at work with some of father’s boys, laying up the logs to Brother Wallace’s house. A day or two later they were engaged in putting up another house for Sister Miller, now Sister Finch, whose husband had died a short time previous.
On the 7th, Abigail Pond, a wife of Bishop Whitney’s, died. Two of her sisters had died a day or two before. They had lately arrived from Nauvoo, and were still living in tents. Trading commenced at the store that day.
“Wednesday, the 9th,” Horace wrote, “warm day for the season. This morning, early, learned that during last night a party of Indians came from the other side of the river, which they crossed on the ice, and attacked a small party of the Omahaws, who are encamped near us, and severely, if not mortally wounded two or three of their number, viz., ‘Big Head,’ the chief of the nation, and his squaw. Mary, an Indian interpreter with the Omahaws, says that it was the Iowas who committed the outrage. The Omahaws being very much frightened, today moved their encampment and pitched their tents near Brigham’s house on Main Street. The two invalids were taken to his house to have their wounds dressed. ‘Big Head’ was shot through the head and arm; his wife through the arm only, which is considerably mutilated, and I understood that it was the intention to have it amputated.”
On the evening of the following Saturday the Indians “had a great powwow among them, screeching and yelling in a horrible manner, on account of their having just received the intelligence that a large number of their warriors, who went on the hunting expedition a short time since, had been killed off by the Sioux.”
Sunday, the 13th, being a fine day, meeting was held at the stand. Brother Luke Johnson was present. He had just come on—had buried his wife at St. Joseph. There was quite a rejoicing among the old Kirtland Saints, to see Bro. Luke Johnson among them again. He stayed one night at father’s house. His sister, Marinda Hyde, who was living on the river, came there with him.
On the 14th Horace wrote, “Brigham, Heber, E. Benson, Father Cahoon and Ira Eldredge went down the river about eight miles to the place where Sarpee used to trade, to make arrangements for the building of houses for the Omahaws; that being deemed a proper place for them to settle themselves—it is so well fortified by nature, that they can discern the approach of an enemy at some distance.
“Sunday, the 20th,” he says, “meeting was held at Bro. Kimball’s house. Bro. Joseph Nobles, the bishop of this ward, presiding, at which arrangements were made to relieve the poor, and for establishing a school, etc.”
Friday, the 25th, was a most beautiful day, and being Christmas, at evening we had a little party at father’s, which was very enjoyable and passed off finely.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 13, no. 19,
1 March 1885, p. 151
My husband wrote: “Saturday, 26th. This being mother’s birthday, father this afternoon procured his large glass, which has been in the family for years, and each one of the family was called upon to give some sentiment or wish in favor of our mother. The ‘union’ or meeting did not last above an hour, but it was the most satisfactory festival that I ever recollect to have spent in that brief space of time.”
The circumstance above mentioned is very fresh in my memory, as is also the following, which transpired on the evening of January 1st, 1847:
“This evening Bro. Kimball again gave up his room for the purpose of dancing. Brigham and some of his family were present, beside a numerous assemblage of brethren and sisters. This evening, like the Christmas one, passed off finely under the direction of O. P. Rockwell, and everyone departed to their homes about one a.m., apparently well pleased and gratified with our scene of festivity.”
Sunday the 3rd. By invitation my father went and preached at Bro. John Scott’s house, in Bishop Evan’s ward, a number of his family attending.
On the 5th Horace, Wm. and Porter started on horseback for the rush bottoms, in company with three other brethren who were going with wagons to Bro. Lathrop’s camp (who was there to take charge of the cattle that were sent to the rush bottoms) with provisions. Our boys went for the purpose of driving back some beef cattle—cows and calves, etc., but the weather was so excessively cold that they concluded to return without them.
Horace says: “The only house there, we stayed in, which was a miserable hovel indeed, our bones the next morning feeling the effects of the unevenness of the puncheon floor. * Having breakfasted as we had supped the night before, in the open air, we started for home, where we arrived towards evening.”
By this time there was considerable snow on the ground, and “Thursday, 7th,” wrote Horace, “was by far the coldest and most snow of the season. We could chop wood at the door scarcely five minutes without freezing.”
He wrote on the 13th, “This evening had quite a convivial party at Bro. James Smithies’, consisting of all the male members of the family.”—Meaning my father’s family.
Monday, the 18th, he speaks of making out a “list of the members intending to travel in the 2nd company, under H. C. Kimball, in the ensuing spring. John Pack and myself went round to warn them to meet at the council house tomorrow night for organization. The first company, under Brigham Young, met there this evening for the same purpose. This evening a fire was discovered under the hearth in Bro. Kimball’s room—we took down the better half of the chimney in order to get at the fire, which we put out and then rebuilt the chimney, this taking till half past four in the morning. Brother Kimball felt very thankful that the fire did not occur in the night when we were all asleep, as there were five or six pounds of powder in a chest near the fireplace, in addition to the danger incurred by the fire otherwise.
“Thursday, 19th. * * This evening, pursuant to agreement, a large number of those who had attached themselves to the second company under H. C. Kimball, met at the council house on Main St. Bro. O. Pratt first rose and read the names of those who had already given in their names, which were 200 in number. Bro. Kimball then arose and said that he had not called them together exactly for the purpose of organization, but to give them some instruction, and to let them know by what rules they must abide if they wished to go in his company. He then proceeded to state that those who wished to go with him must prepare themselves to obey the laws of God, and forbear from stealing one from another, also swearing and other things prohibited by the celestial law, and those who could not make up their minds to abide by the precepts, had better never start from this place, but go into Missouri where they belong.
“A revelation on the will of the Lord was then read by O. Pratt, as received through Prest. Young, pertaining to the rules and regulations by which we are to be governed during our journey in the ensuing spring. There are to be companies of tens, fifties and hundreds, each company with a captain at its head, and these to be controlled by a president and two counselors.
“The revelation embodied or contained the remarks made by Bro. Kimball and the others. A vote was then called whether the people would covenant to obey the precepts therein laid down, which passed unanimously. Prest. Young also made some few remarks substantiating what Bro. Kimball had said. Another thing spoken of was that every individual who went on the journey should to the utmost use his influence in assisting the widows and wives of those in the army, also to remove, lest their cries should ascend up to Jehovah against us. After some other business of minor importance being transacted the meeting was dismissed with a benediction by Bro. Kimball.
“Wednesday, the 20th. Fair weather with ‘sunshine clear.’ The Twelve held a council at Wm. Kimball’s room today.” Thursday he speaks of being busied in taking the “names and list of the property of those who had attached themselves being busied in taking the names and list of those who had attached themselves to Bro. Kimball’s company.” And for two or three days after he was engaged “writing on the list of company 2nd.” On the 23rd he makes mention of his wife’s sickness, which prevented him from attending meeting at the council house.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 13, no. 21,
1 April 1885, p. 162
The incidents copied from my husband’s journal will probably call up many a reminiscence in the minds of those who took part in the scenes that were dotted down during the journey and sojourn of the Latter-day Saints in the wilderness. The following he wrote:
“January 26th. A meeting of the second company, under H. C. Kimball, was held at the council house at 10 p.m. I arose and read the names of those who joined the company, also those who had given in a list of their property. President Young then moved that Bro. Kimball nominate his own officers, which he proceeded to do. After reading the names of those who were elected unanimously, each named individual spoke, returning their thanks to the brethren for the honor conferred upon them—stating their intention to magnify their office. The captains of fifties were enjoined to organize their companies and appoint captains of tens.
“Afterwards Bro. Kimball spoke at some length, using the parable of a vessel being cracked and remolded into its proper shape by the hands of the potter. ‘everyone has got to take an equal share of the burden of taking on the poor, etc. I want those who constitute the officers in my company should act as fathers in Israel, and accommodate themselves to the minds and wishes of the people. I feel, sometimes, as though, like a barrel, I should burst with care and anxiety for the brethren, and would like an additional band fastened to me. There has got to be a pioneer company to start from here, and those who can stay will stay, and this to be subject to the decision of the presidents. Those who stay will remain to cultivate the ground. It is necessary for everyone to prepare himself with axle trees to their wagons, etc, inasmuch as there is no timber for a long way after we leave here.’ * * Meeting adjourned.”
He speaks of a party, including a part of the quorum of seventies, which came off at the council house the same day, commencing at three o’clock p.m., and continuing till nearly morning. Another one was held Wednesday evening by others of the seventies, and on Thursday evening, the latter, Horace speaks of attending and most of my father’s family. There were many parties held there during the winter, and a dancing school was started about the 8th of February. In all these I had no participation, being prostrated by sickness from the middle of January until spring.
On the 29th Horace mentions a meeting held at my father’s house pursuant to agreement, at 10 a.m. “The first thing taken into consideration was to appoint a clerk—Brother James Sloan was elected to that office. Another thing stated by Bro. Kimball was, that those upon whom the duty principally devolved, i. e., the presidency and authority should travel as nearly together as possible in one company, in order that everything might be more convenient when they were obliged to assemble for counsel.
“Brother Harrison Burgess came in and stated that he had a line for Bro. Kimball, which was the resignation of Bro. R of the office of captain of fifty. Bro. Kimball gave the article of resignation to Father Cutler for his disposal. Father Cutler observed that it would be at the disposal of the captains of the first company, where to place his men, and in what order. Bro. Henry Herriman was elected to the office of captain, first company. It was concluded, through Bro. Kimball’s suggestion, to entitle our body ‘The Second Division of the Camp of Israel.’ * * He said, ‘It makes no difference where we are placed, whether in the first, second or third company, and that when he made the nomination of his officers, he looked for those who would act as fathers in Israel; and he wished them to treat this people as a child, and nurse them and be careful of their feelings.’ He told the brethren it was their duty to get all the names they could, and just as soon as the hundreds filled up, that there should be at least thirty men drawn out of each for pioneers. Bro Kimball observed that we need not depend on any regular order till we get organized in fifties, because there would be draughts upon them for pioneers, artillery, hunting, etc.”
After the officers had each chosen their captains of fifties, he says, “Bro. Kimball said, ‘In traveling we should generally be governed by circumstances,’ and that he intended to imitate President Young in his order of traveling, and that it would be a long time before we would be governed by any definite rule. * * He knew the people were more tired on this last journey than they ever were before, and quoted the Carloss Granger story as illustrative of the idea.”
Bro. Kimball observed that the reason of Bro. R ‘s resignation was that he had a “calf in the east, and that was hitched to $1,500, and he wanted to go back and get it, and take his family with him, because he is discouraged, etc; and he (Bro. Kimball) wants to have the brethren hang onto him by the prayer of faith. He proposed that we all, with Father Cutler, bow down before the Lord—touching the case of Bro. R that he may be tied up in his designs to go east and take his family with him, which was accordingly done, and the meeting was dismissed.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 13, no. 22,
15 April 1885, p. 170
On the morning of February 2nd my mother gave birth to a son, whom they named Solomon, after his Grandfather Kimball, which event is mentioned in my husband’s journal.
My room was a few doors from my mother’s, where I was still bed-fast; but the weather being fine I was conveyed in an easy chair and placed by her side, where I passed two pleasant days, being carried back at eventide. She was in excellent spirits, and before my arrival, the first morning, had composed several verses on the birth of this, her seventh son. They breathed a prayer that his life might be long, and his wisdom great, like unto Solomon’s of old, before he had allowed the love of women to surpass the wisdom God had given him.
She was gifted in that line, had it only been cultivated in an early day. Her appearance, at that period of her life, bespoke anything but a sad and heartbroken woman, though there were several of father’s wives living under the same roof with her.
My husband mentions a party coming off on the 3rd, consisting of President Young’s family, held at the council house. Father and some of his family attended. He speaks of the marriage of Vilate Young and Charles Decker, on the evening of the 4th.
On the 5th he wrote: “The party of what is called the ‘silver greys’ came off at the council house today and night, consisting of all the old people that could be found in camp. In the forenoon the band went round in a carriage playing—the bride and bridegroom accompanying.
“Saturday, the 6th. Beautiful weather. This evening at eleven o’clock mother gave birth to a son. She is pretty comfortable; also Sister Kimball. Helen’s health slowly improving.
“Tuesday, the 9th. * * The bishop’s convivialties commenced at the council house today, under the direction of Bishop Whitney as head bishop of the Church. Attended myself with the band and played. The day and evening passed off finely, spent in praying, singing, dancing, etc.”
The same evening he makes mention of my father’s calling his wives together, who had infants, for the purpose of blessing them, which was done in my mother’s room, by B. Young, father and Bishop Whitney, Dr. Richards acting as clerk. There were seven in number—four had been born at Nauvoo, one at Richardson’s Point, Iowa, and two at Winter Quarters. The eldest was my mother’s son, Brigham Willard, born January 29th 1845. The names of those mothers were Sarah Peek, Clarrissa Cutler, Emily Cutler, Sarah Ann Whitney, Lucy Walker. The two latter were the wives of the Prophet Joseph, whom father had taken for time only. Still Joseph Smith of Lamona, Iowa, declares that polygamy was neither taught nor practiced by his father, and that it was “foreign to the gospel his father died in the service of,” when there are a dozen or more of his wives still living in Utah, besides scores of men and women who can testify that this principle was taught and practiced by him, and that he commanded others to enter into it. “None are so blind as those who will not see.” But to return to Winter Quarters.
“Wednesday, the 10th,” wrote Horace, “the Bishop’s party continued on today, and ended this evening at 10 p.m. Father did not attend much on account of mother’s illness, who is not so well today as usual.
“Thursday, the 11th. * * The party of ‘silver greys’ who had not previously been at the council house, met there to enjoy themselves—attended also today with others of the band.”
On the 13th a party was held at the same place, “consisting of some of the seventies, or bench makers.” The same day he speaks of a number of brethren starting for Brother Lathrop’s camp to guard the horses and cattle, which had been sent there, intelligence having been received the day previous, that the “Sioux had come among the people up there, and stolen several horses and killed several cattle, etc., etc.
“Sunday, the 14th. * * This morning, at 11 a.m., a meeting of the family was called at H. C. Kimball’s room. Present—H. C. Kimball, father and a number of both families. The meeting opened by singing, and prayer by Brother James Smithies. I arose and read, by request of Bro. Kimball, a revelation given March 7th, 1831, which was addressed to the Church, and intended for their guidance at that, and also at this time. Another hymn was then sung, and Brother Kimball arose and said:
“I have almost always something in my mind to say, according to the circumstances in which I am placed. My health is quite poor at this time, having taken cold, and have a severe pain in my side. My body feels as if it was shattered to pieces with fatigue, but I care nothing about it—I have no fear of death; I have no fear about seeing my Heavenly Father, but I want to live for the good of this people—life is sweet. Why is it sweet?—for the sake of good society—the cordial endearments of my friends and children—I can meet anybody halfway, for I have so ordered my life that I am not afraid of death. I am now forming a character for another world, when I shall come forth with a new body in the resurrection; and I want to cultivate the principles of charity, that I may conform to the will of God, that I may be able to have victory over death, hell and the grave, that I may be able to say, death, where is thy sting, O grave, where is thy victory! And when I gain the victory is not everything mine? I want the brethren to exercise all the faith and calmness in their power—I feel as though I could hardly sit up. I dreamt the other night to have my net prepared to catch all I can; and every man and woman have nets among you, each one according to his or her capacity. You have all got an idea that Christ has gained a victory for you, but I tell you that you have to gain the victory yourselves, or you will have it to grapple with hereafter. I presume there is not a person in the room, great or small, but what think they have as much to grapple with every day as I have.
‘“There have been a great many parties lately, and I thought I would have one today. You are all my family here today—Bishop Whitney belongs to my family, and I belong to his family, and I want all selfishness banished from among you. I know there is faith enough in this place to make me feel happy. I should not be surprised if I should not live two months; still I do not know but that I shall, but there is no one knows how I feel but myself. I have no testimony that I shall die for fifty years to come. I want to go to a land of liberty, where we can be free from mobs and strife, in which we have been all our lives. Some profess to have a knowledge of all things behind the veil, but I profess no such thing. What is in futurity I neither know nor care; but I do care for the present, and that all who look up to me for counsel, as children, as husbands, etc., should be faithful. I do not say that any of you are disobedient, but your minds want stirring up by way of remembrance—not to tell you what you don’t know, but you are run down like watches. I want you to wind them up two or three times a day. It does not hurt a watch half as bad to run as it does to lay dormant, therefore do not let your minds, like watches, lay dormant. I want you to lift up your hearts to God for me, and if I have not done well by my children, I will leave it to Brother Whitney, as he is a judge in Israel, and he is such as appointed by the revelations of God. I want my family to learn to govern themselves, so that when they are in the midst of an extreme, even in dancing, they could stop right straight. You should never let your appetites control your judgments, but your judgments your appetites.’”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 2,
15 June 1885, p. 11
Bro. Kimball called upon father to speak. He arose and said: T suppose, as I am the oldest person in the room, you may look upon me, in some degree, as a father. I don’t know that I can say any more, in essence, than what your Father Kimball has said. He has spoken of several things, especially of faith, which, if acted upon, will rebound to your glory. Brother Heber has spoken of the parable of the watch—it is a good one, and if we keep the watch wound up we cannot sin, for if a man has the spirit of truth and righteousness he cannot sin, and when he is possessed by the opposite spirit he cannot do anything correct. When we have a bad spirit, and call upon the Lord, we will find that He is a great deal farther off than we would imagine. Brother Heber touched upon doing right—I believe that there is no man in the whole circle of my acquaintance, that intends to do better and work righteousness more than Bro. Kimball, nor one that comes nearer to the point in so doing; therefore it behooves you to hold up his hands, and as he advances in knowledge, so will you the same; as his vessel is filled, he will pour it onto your heads. God is no respecter of persons, but He sets men on the earth to teach His people, as masters are set to instruct little children. God will instruct His people from time to time as they can bear knowledge, and when we have fulfilled the things our messenger has given us, another will come with fresh intelligence. I have no doubt but what many of you here will live to see the Ancient of Days come—even old Father Adam.
‘“We are now in the dispensation of the fulness of times, and every ordinance or office that has been practiced in the church of former days, will be revived in this dispensation, even to the offering of sacrifice. Malachi says, “before the great and terrible day of the Lord, I will send Elijah, the prophet, lest there be not faith enough on the earth, and I smite it with a curse.”
‘“And for that reason was Joseph Smith sent to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, etc., to prepare them for the coming of the Lord—and so He will continue to send us intelligence by messengers, till at last, old Father Adam shall at last appear to see his children.
‘“We are too apt to judge our brethren unjustly, and we should be very careful how we do so, when we know that they are governed by the Spirit of God. We should mind and keep the helm of the ship in our hands, lest the helm slip a little, a storm come on, and we lose our latitude and longitude—but if we have the spirit of the Lord we never shall get out of our latitude and longitude. We should be careful and keep the spirit of God on our side, for the path will grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
‘“Now, brethren, do you not think that it would be a heaven on earth if there was perfect confidence among you—and this is heaven and all the heaven that we have will be that which we make ourselves.
I have sometimes thought of the words of the Psalmist—How pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity, etc. A two fold cord is stronger than one: and take it in a family and see the necessity, as well as the beauty, of union. What shall I say more, brethren? I could sit down and chat with you, I suppose, and answer almost any question on principle—I always rejoice when I am able to throw light upon any mind that is seeking intelligence. Bro. Kimball was observing that he had done the best he could, and I verily believe it, under the circumstances. It is our duty to mind the admonitions of the Spirit, lest we be shoaled on the quicksands of evil. Now, I say, hearken to the admonitions of your father, for his teachings are good—and as for this dancing—when we dance we should do it as much by the spirit as we would pray. The Almighty does not intend that a man will stay on his knees twenty-four hours praying, but he is willing that we should have our recreations, but we must not get giddy, nor transcend the bounds of reason and right, or we will get out of the way, and have to fall back and hunt up a position of right again. Peter sums up the case in a few voids—add to your faith virtue, and to your virtue knowledge, temperance, and withal be patient, and last of all godliness and brotherly kindness; and if ye observe these things ye will not be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“I know I have my faults as well as yourselves, and my principal fault is impatience, and when I preach I always hew to the line, if the chips fly in my face. And now I feel to bless you all in the name of Jesus Christ.’
“Bro. Kimball arose and said: I have been much edified by the conversation of Bro. Whitney. We always had the same feelings in common, and our views always met, and our thoughts always flow in the same channel—I don’t know why it is so.
‘“Don’t you see that there should be temperance in everything—dancing, eating and drinking—now, I love to dance, myself, but let us learn to be subject to government in all things. I am your head, your lawgiver and king, and will be to all eternity, and I am responsible to my head and president, and you are responsible to me, your file leader—I believe that some of my old progenitors, of whom I have no knowledge, will appear and tell me when the time shall come for me to rise up and administer in the ordinances for them, and I shall receive a great deal of knowledge from them, which I could not receive directly by revelation. Now, this idea you never thought of, did you, boys? And I want you to keep it secret within the walls of your own breasts. I want to have power, when I see my brother or sister afflicted, to tell death to depart, and it shall depart. everyone has the greatest obstacle to govern himself. I have greater trouble to govern Bro. Heber, and put self down than anything else. I always want a clerk to attend my meetings, so that like today we can have a record to look back upon for our edification.
“‘I never felt better in my mind, but my body is ailing. I do delight in intelligence, and delight to see an intelligent mind. I do not know, what I know, unless by the utterance of the Spirit; and if you wish to know anything of me, put a paper in your pocket and minute things down, that you may ask me questions, and it will not impoverish me.
‘“Now, I feel to bless you in the name of the Lord. I feel as if we have had a good time; my feelings are good towards you all. Bishop Whitney is as honest a man as there is this side of heaven, and I want you to receive his counsel as one of the judges in Israel.’”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 3,
1 July 1885, p. 18
Father arose and said: ‘Bro. Kimball has mentioned the idea of writing things down, in order that you may ask questions. It is a good idea. * * I love intelligence, and it is a perfect torment for me to sit down and talk to some people. Many a time I have sat down and talked with folks upon trivial matters, and have actually got some new ideas by asking a little question. Some, from diffidence, are backward in asking intelligence; but no gentleman would laugh or sneer at another when a question was asked, even if it was an ignorant one.’
“Brother Kimball asked the brethren and sisters if they had enjoyed this party as well as the one at the council house. They all answered ‘Yes.’ He observed that he would like to have his children learn to calm themselves, and he hoped that they would mind and keep the watch wound up, and when they lost time refer to the chronometer.
“A hymn being sung the meeting was dismissed with a benediction by Bishop Whitney. Bro. Kimball dismissed them also with his blessing.”
One thing, which I have neglected to mention, was the kind and brotherly feeling manifested by the brethren towards Bishop Miller, whenever he came down on his way to Missouri, where he went to trade for provisions. It seems that they prevailed on him to return to Winter Quarters, and at a meeting held at the council house, January 26th, he being present, “it was moved by President Young, and stated by President Kimball, that inasmuch as Bishop Miller, being here, is about to return to this place with his family, we build him a house. Carried unanimously.” Wm. Pitt moved that John Kay also return. Seconded and carried.
Monday. February 15th, my husband mentions the bishop’s arrival from Punkaw, bringing with him part of his family, his house being nearly finished.
A party was given on the 16th by President Brigham Young to his adopted children. Horace says, “I went, by invitation, as a musician, with some others of the band; had a first rate dinner, and spent the time very agreeably. Toward evening a couple of brethren from the army arrived, viz., Bros. Thippetts and Woolsey. They had journeyed thirty days without eating anything, except wild game, on the road. They were invited in to supper by Bro. Brigham. They had been robbed on the road by the Indians, and divested of most of their apparel. They said that most of the brethren were located about three hundred miles from Santa Fe, and this side of the mountains, where they intend to remain this winter. A number of them had died by various diseases—the ague and fever, etc. The names of those who had died were read over by Brigham, and among them was the name of Joseph Richards, the son of Phinehas Richards.”
On the 18th mention is made of Bro. Luke Johnson and his sister (Marinda Hyde) being with us. The heaviest snowstorm of the season visited us that night, which prevented them from returning home—on the other side of the river—the snow having completely blocked up all the roads. On the Sunday following another family meeting was held at father’s, who was still quite unwell. Brother Brown and Bishop Whitney preached.
“Tuesday, the 23rd. The bishops, with the poor, and the soldiers’ wives of the several wards, met at the council house to enjoy themselves. I attended, with some others of the band.
“Wednesday, the 24th. Snowed considerably today, as well as yesterday. My wife’s health is improving slowly. She has lately been afflicted with canker. She has now been sick five weeks last Sunday. I am also troubled considerably with the canker in my mouth. The company of pioneers will probably start for the mountains in about four weeks, in order to get to our place of location in time to put in a spring crop.”
On the 1st day of March he wrote: “Beautiful weather. Ellis Eames, a player on the violin, came up from the Point—a number of the band, including him and myself, went around in a sleigh this evening (Porter driving) and serenaded several places in the town. Bro. Kimball was along with us. We stopped at Bishop Hunter’s and played a tune, then, by invitation of Bro. Kimball, went to his house, where we spent some time in dancing.
“Tuesday, the 2nd. * * This evening Bro. Kay arrived from the Punkaw nation, having left his family and some others fifty miles from here, not being able to get here, in consequence of their feed for cattle having failed.
“Wednesday, * * a number of the band went around and raised a contribution for Bro. Kay, in corn and meal, etc.—We got nine bushels of the former. Played with some others of the band for the quorum of high priests, whose parties commenced yesterday.”
The next day he says, “This morning Bro. Kay and James Clayton started with their provisions to go back; also this morning Ellis Eames, J. Redding, Merit Rockwell, two ladies and myself went down to the point in Bro. Kimball’s carriage, and attended a party. I took my flute to assist Bro. Eames in playing. Had a very good time, good supper, etc.”
On the evening of Saturday, the 5th, Bro. John Kay arrived with his family.
There was a meeting of father’s company of pioneers, held at the council house, Monday morning, it being the intention for some to start soon, though the majority were not to start under a week or so. Here Horace and his brother Orson, concluded to go with the pioneers in place of their father, and assist in putting in crops, till the ground, etc., that the families, when they came on, might have something to move to. All were busy now preparing, and laying in their supplies for the journey.
Sunday, the 14th, my husband wrote: “By father’s request I went and copied an important document, which took me the greater part of the day and into the night.”
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.
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
Monday the 14th, * * the pioneers of the 2nd division met this morning at the council house to arrange themselves in companies of tens, etc.
“Tuesday the 16th, fair weather. * * Went by invitation with a number of the band, to see a noted flute-player, McCay by name, who professes to be a Choctaw Indian. He performed on the flute-saucepan etc.”
On the evening of the 17th he mentions attending a meeting of the band, at James Clayton’s to make some arrangements about a concert to be held at the council house, which came off the next evening. He says, “I attended only a short time not feeling well, afflicted with a severe cold on my lungs, also in my head. Brother Wm. Clayton did not attend, in consequence of illness.” He makes mention of the scurvy which was so sorely afflicting the Saints, many cases having proved fatal.
“Sunday the 21st. * * A large number assembled at the sound of a bell, to hear President Young give instructions, which were good.” Brother Kimball called his private family together this evening and blessed them to the number of thirty-six. My wife and I did not attend, not feeling well.”
A “patriarchal epistle,” which father had prepared, was read. It contained advice to his eldest son, Wm., an adopted son, Daniel Davis, concerning the bringing up of the different families, and children that were under his charge. The following were among the designs, which he wished them to carry out after he was gone.
“In the first place, I want you should fit out a wagon in the first order for your mother, and see that she is supplied with everything for her comfort, so that she may live in a retired way, and take every method to throw off every burden from her shoulders, and take it upon yourselves, or cast it equally upon others with yourselves.
“Also that Sarah Noon shall have a wagon by herself and family. Also Sarah Whitney with her family; and also Brother Howard Egan’s family; also James Smithies with his family. And be particular that these families have a bag of flour and, a bag of meal, put into their own wagons; also meat and such articles as are necessary for their convenience, that they may not have reason to complain, or borrow of, or trouble each other. And when their bags and stores are empty see that they are filled. Be very particular to retain a prayerful, meek and quiet spirit, that you can have comforting words for your mother, sisters and friends who are with you while attending to their wants and necessities, that you may prove a blessing to them, and a comfort and consolation in very deed, and they will rise up and bless you, and your hearts will rejoice, and you will always be glad, and your Father in heaven, and on earth will bless you, and it will be a source of rejoicing to you forever, and your sons and daughters in their turn, will arise and bless and comfort you in like manner.”
The same day my husband wrote, “my wife’s health quite poor yet, she is afflicted at present with a severe cough, having taken a hard cold.”
On the 29th he mentions a number of the brethren, who were going to remain behind, starting for the “old fort,” ten miles above there, for the purpose of putting in a crop, and also a number of families, who were preparing to remove to that place. The mill commenced some time ago, “is now about finished, so that they are about ready to grind wheat, corn, etc.” He speaks of the boys “flying round” and making ready to start for the Rocky Mountains—says Brother Kimball has six wagons fitted out ready loaded to start.
Sunday, 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.
My father recommended Bishop Whitney to his family “as a worthy, good and exemplary man,” to counsel them in his absence, and said there was “no person living in the world” in whom he placed more confidence than he did in Brother Whitney, and there was no person who would have so much influence in his (father’s) family in his absence. Many things were said and much good instruction given by both fathers, when the meeting was adjourned till evening.
Agreeable to adjournment they met again in the evening and conversed till about 9 o’clock; when a prayer was offered up, father being mouth. “Afterwards,” Horace wrote, “Brother Kimball and father alternately blessed each member of his family, and the meeting dismissed about 11 o’clock, after having enjoyed one of the happiest times (and apparently the briefest) period in my existence.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 7,
1 September 1885, pp. 53–54
On the 5th we had the first rain of the season, accompanied by thunder and lightning. It cleared off fair in the afternoon, when some of father’s wagons were started out, going three miles as far as his stacks. President Young had sent his camp three or four miles ahead. That evening another meeting was held at Sister Sarah Ann’s room, for those of the two families that were not there the evening before.
Conference was held, on the 6th, at the stand, it being a warm pleasant day.
Wednesday.—Horace mentions his father’s packing their provisions, and says: “We made the last packing arrangements today.”
On the morning of the 8th the rest of the wagons moved out. Horace says: “Before starting, Father Lott blessed Orson and myself, and gave us many good promises of health and safety—that we should return to our friends again, etc., etc. Started with my wagon at 11 a.m., myself and Orson, and went three miles, where the rest of the boys were camped. Brother and Sister Kimball went with us. Porter came up on horseback and informed us that P. P. Pratt had just arrived from England, and that John Taylor and Orson Hyde were soon expected.” Father and mother invited Horace to return in the carriage with them, and his father—Bishop Whitney—to spend the night, which he accepted, “leaving the wagon in charge of Orson and little John.” It was arranged for Horace to drive and care for the horses, and Orson was to attend to cooking and washing, etc.
The morning of the 9th witnessed the final departure of the pioneers on their way to the mountains. They were four days traveling to the “Platte” river, to where I will follow them, after which the journal closes at Winter Quarters. Horace wrote: * * “Fair weather for traveling. Brother Kimball, Father, Brigham, and Dr. Richards started this morning, and went in Brother Kimball’s carriage. Orson drove my team, and I rode Brother Brigham’s horse as far as his camp, where we arrived about noon, seven miles from home. Went on three miles further and camped by the side of a beautiful spring, having made ten miles today. Orson on guard.
“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 Brigham and Heber’s request. Travelled about 15 miles today and encamped on the prairie near a ravine, where we could get water, about six miles from the ‘Elk Horn.’
“Sunday the 11th.—Fair day. Traveled 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. Brother 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—the wagons formed in a line, our horses being hitched to stakes, and fed on cottonwood trees, besides their allowance of corn. Brother Kimball told the brethren this morning 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 tonight—the last watch.
“Monday the 12th.—Brothers Brigham, Kimball, Father, Brother 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 twelve miles to the ‘Platte,’ 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 two hours high. Formed our wagons in a kind of semi-circle, under Stephen Markham’s supervision, who has the cannon in charge. Brother Markham called the people together this evening and told them it was the wish of the Twelve that some should go ahead and look out for a good track to follow. Father Case, Jack Redden, and two others volunteered. * * *
“Tuesday the 13th.—Father Case, J. Redden, and the two others appointed went out. Returned and reported this evening that they had ridden for twenty or thirty miles, and found a low marshy country in general.
“Friday.—The Presidency having returned, the camp were called together and organized—two captains of 100’s, viz., Stephen Markham and A. P. Rockwood were appointed; also five captains of 50’s and fourteen captains of 10’s. There are 153 men and boys on the list of pioneers, three women, and Lorenzo Young’s two little boys, and 73 wagons.”
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
When hearing the rehearsal of trials, privations and hardships endured by the camp of Israel, while journeying from the Mississippi River to the Missouri, my mind inadvertently turns to that portion between Nauvoo and Garden Grove, as the darkest in my memory. We were poorly prepared for such an exodus; and many joining us who were anxious to come, but had little or nothing of the necessaries for their own sustenance, ours had to be divided among them. We had many weeks of cold, stormy weather, and our teams being insufficient to draw the loads, rendered traveling over those soft prairies next thing to an impossibility; expecting, as we did, to go over the mountains that year we were put on rations, and had to lengthen out our flour and provisions in the most economical manner. During that time our sea biscuit, crackers, parched cornmeal, etc., which were among the luxuries, molded, until finally they were fed out to our horses and cattle. At the beginning of the journey the crackers went very well to eat dry, but I’ll never forget the first time I saw a meal made of sea biscuit broken into milk. I had called at Uncle Brigham’s tent—I had always addressed him by that title—where he was just taking some for dinner, and he invited me to have a bowl; but I declined, with thanks, and a feeling of wonder how he could relish it. When it came to sitting down daily to milk and water porridge and crackers in it, it became so nauseous that hunger could not tempt me to eat it.
At this period the young, and even aged people were forced to walk, if it were possible, a goodly portion of the way to save the teams, no matter what the weather might be, storms, or excessive heat, or how weary, faint and footsore we became, there was no alternative but to endure till we had reached the spot called Garden Grove. Here they unpacked and sent out many valuables into the Missouri settlements and exchanged them for provisions and the most needful articles. They also traded horses for oxen and milk cows, and from that time our living was more comfortable. Father’s and Bishop Whitney’s families were divided up into messes, each tent having one or two women to cook for the teamsters, and wagons were provided for all the women and their little children to ride and to sleep in at night. Although we were not rid of hardships and vexations, consequent upon the moving of a great camp, and the intense heat of the weather, we certainly had little cause for complaint compared with what we had experienced previously, and the rest of our journey was made with comparative ease.
The whooping cough, which had so sorely afflicted my mother’s babe, Brigham Willard, previous to starting from Nauvoo, grew lighter from the time we commenced camping out at Sugar Creek, and Mother Whitney’s babe, Mary, which had been sick unto death, improved rapidly from that date. There were others, and even some of the most feeble and delicate women, that grew stronger for a time, until after the hot weather set in. Some of the strongest, who were more exposed, became prostrated with fever and ague, etc., before arriving at Chariton River, where we stopped a time for the weather to settle. My mother’s little one had commenced to run down with teething, etc., and her own health, which was never good, failed to that degree that Mary Ann Sheflin, one of father’s wives, who had lived with her in Nauvoo, being anxious to relieve her, took the child, and she loved and cared for him as tenderly as though he had been her own, till after we arrived at the end of our journey.
Lately, in looking over some old papers, I found a letter of exhortation and counsel to father’s family, written by my husband, at his dictation, as he was about leaving Cutler’s Park to go with President Young to attend to some business over the river. It is dated August 22nd, 1846, my 18th birthday, and had been preserved among father’s papers. The words being as appropriate today as then, I reproduce a portion for the benefit of those who regarded him in the light of a friend and wise counselor.
“I wish to give a few words of counsel to my family and to all that belong thereto—both male and female, old and young, and what I say unto one I say unto all, and shall expect it to be heeded in the full sense of the word.
“Of late there has been a great deal of carelessness, imprudence and slothfulness with many of the members of my family as regards to taking care of themselves—going without suitable clothing and stockings in cold, chilly weather, sitting out of doors under the bower after dark, when it is cold, wet weather, exposing themselves to sickness and death, which we have suffered much of. These things have caused me much sorrow and regret, and have caused my family much toil and hardship and fatigue, which has been brought upon us by a total neglect of counsel, which would have saved us these things.
* * * * I am now about leaving you for a short time, and I improve this opportunity to address you in this manner. I love my family, and I have never faltered for the first time in seeking their welfare, to provide everything that lay in my power for their happiness, and still intend to, inasmuch as my counsel can be respected. Now, my feelings are this: That all domestic affairs, as far as women are concerned, are out of the way ‘while it is called day,’ for when the night cometh no man can work, for the Lord says, in a certain revelation, ‘Retire to thy bed early, that thy body may be invigorated, that thy days may be many.’
“Now, I shall require these things at your hands, except circumstances shall otherwise direct. Cease from vanity, seek humility and meekness, bow before the Lord in the morning and at eve, and in so doing your days may be many, peace and tranquility shall soothe your bosoms, health and happiness shall dwell in thy wagons, tents, wigwams and cottages, while these things are observed. Cease from murmuring or complaining, finding fault with your friends or with each other, but manifest to all men and women, by your works, and the closeness of your tongues, and the integrity of your hearts, that you are right, and that God is with us of a truth. I always do, and shall expect that those which constitute my house, will remember me before the Lord, that I may have wisdom, health, patience and endurance to endure all things, that I may always give suitable counsel to my family, even that that shall proceed from the Holy Ghost, for I never wish to counsel by any other spirit.
“I now feel to bless you all in the name of the Lord God of Israel, with peace, prosperity and salvation, that we all may be pure in heart. These are the words and blessings I feel to communicate and leave with my dear family.
“As ever, I remain, your most affectionate husband, father and friend in the new and everlasting covenant. Amen.
“HEBER C. KIMBALL.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 9,
1 October 1885, p. 66
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.
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.
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
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, 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.
The following interesting extracts are from a letter written by a sister of Brigham Young, whom my mother’s widowed father, Roswell G. Murray, married in the state of New York, previous to their hearing of “Mormonism.” She was a dear friend of my uncle, Gould Murray, and wife, who were then living in Rochester, and had corresponded with them ever since she left them to go to Kirtland. This letter or copy was dated at Omaha, Winter Quarters, July 5th, 1847:
“DEAR GOULD AND LAURA:
“After so long a time, I take up my pen to address you, which I should do with much more pleasure could I feel an assurance that my communication would ever reach you. However this may be, I feel that I must write, and trust an overruling power to convey it to you.
“I know you must be anxious to learn something about your brother and sister and their families; this information I intend to give, as the overwhelming cares of life seem to prevent them from writing themselves.
“Wm. Murray and Vilate, with their families, are all alive and well, as far as I know. Wm. started for Missouri two weeks ago, taking his wife and daughter and little son with him. He expects to stay through the summer and fall, in order to get something together for the journey to the mountains the ensuing spring. They have had dreadful sickness in their family since they left that part of the country—every one of them have been at the very gates of the grave, but the Lord has delivered them from death, and they live to praise Him. I saw Wm. at a meeting the day before he started; his soul was like a watered garden; he rejoiced in the God of his salvation, and praised the Lord that he was counted worthy to suffer affliction for His name’s sake, realizing, if he suffered with Him, he should reign with Him. * * * His eldest daughter, Jennette, lives with Vilate and calls her mother, as she may with great propriety, and enjoys the love of God in her soul from day to day; indeed, their house is a perfect Bethel. If ever a woman was blessed it is Vilate; the Spirit of the Lord seems to be poured out upon her without measure, and her tongue is like the pen of a ready writer, while she pours out her soul in blessings on her household and her neighbors. Oh! that you could both be here for one week, you would know, indeed, the reality of what I write.
“Helen was married to a young man by the name of Whitney, one year ago last February. * * Mr. Whitney went with the pioneers, and left Helen with her mother. He was distressed to go and leave her just as her hour of trial was coming on, but duty called and he must go. When her time of trouble came, she was very sick, but very patient. It seemed as though the Lord was teaching her a great lesson. She at length gave birth to a beautiful little daughter, but mother and child could not both live, and she was destined to yield up to death the dear little object on which she had doted with her whole heart. You know how natural it is for our hearts to cleave to earthly objects, and how easy it is with the Lord to blast every ray of comfort, that we may seek our all in Him. Helen’s affliction is indeed a savor of life unto her. She sunk into the will of God with all her heart, and her soul was so filled with the joy of heaven that she enjoys rather than suffers her bereavement. How I should love you to see her and all the family.
“Vilate is now nursing her seventh son, Solomon. * * She never enjoyed life before as she does now; she is often filled with the spirit of prophecy in such a manner as shows the power and mercy of the Great God, and astonishes those that have known her in former years. She is not the poor, desponding Vilate, that scarcely dared hope for salvation, no, no! But she is that being on whom the candle of the Lord shines continually. Jennette is a great comfort to her as a housekeeper. They are all striving with one consent to make the port of endless rest.
“Brigham and Heber, with nearly two hundred of chosen men, left this place on the 14th of April for the Rocky Mountains. We heard from them by way of the far company, when they were fifty miles from this place, since which, we have heard nothing, nor do we expect to until we see them, and that may be a long time, or it may be this fall. They will probably go till they find a place where we can rest for a little season.
“About the 10th of June a company began to collect at a place called the Elk Horn, about twenty miles from here. * * By the 20th there were five hundred and seventy-three wagons ready to start; but having some business to come back for, two men and two women started, but had not traveled many miles when they were beset by three Indians, who intended robbing them. They were unarmed, and the Indians had rifles; one of the men had lingered behind, which left the other alone, but he did not choose to give up his horses, and struggled manfully with two Indians, while the one that stood looking on drew up his rifle and shot him. They were so frightened at what they had done, that they fled into the woods. The young man, whose name was Jacob Wetherbee, died the next morning.
“This was the 20th, and the next day the company moved on. The wagons went four abreast, and some that were there declared it the grandest sight their eyes were ever blessed with. Their wagons were all neatly prepared, and everything for their comfort that could be obtained, but yet they will suffer enough. * * *
“We are here on the banks of the Missouri River. * The Omahas are the most degraded and worthless race of beings that ever my eyes beheld, but the Lord can bring them up, for it is easy with Him to do whatsoever seemeth Him good.
“We do not suffer anything from fear of the Indians, for we know that for their sakes we are suffering all these things, and we are sure that the Lord our God will not suffer them to destroy us. There has been great destruction of life, both with man and beast, since we left Nauvoo, but none of these things move us while we are keeping the commandments of our Lord and Master, for we know that whether we live or die we are His. If this was to be our home for a few years, it would soon become a delightsome place; but we may not abide here; we must seek rest in a far distant land. Some of the Missourians are constantly using their influence with the Indians to have them kill the ‘Mormons,’ but we trust in the Lord they will not prevail. The brethren that remain here have planted seeds of all kinds, and certain it is that the blessing of heaven attends the labors of their hands. It is indeed cheering to every heart to see every kind of vegetation growing as though they were upon a race to see which would out-do.
“There has been but two steamboats here this season; this makes the river appear rather lonely, except when the fur boats are scudding down; seven were seen at once, yesterday; we hailed them with joy—I mean with our eyes, for it looks so lonely to see no raft upon the water. Our people have an excellent grist mill here, which may cost some thousands of dollars. It does a first rate business.
“I should like to tell you how many hundred houses we have built, but have not lately ascertained. In March there were about eight hundred, and many have been built since. Some are very good log houses, and others about the medium, and many poor indeed, but better than none. The land is far from being level here, but the hills are really beautiful—far more so, to me, than level land could be.
“If you could sail up the river and take a peep at our town, you would say it was romantic and even grand, notwithstanding the log huts. The season has been thought rather backward, but at present is very tine. * * *
“I had a hard fit of sickness last fall, after I wrote you from Farmington. I did not reach the camp until the latter part of November, and have seen pretty strait times through the winter, as hundreds of others have, but have got along with it all, and am very comfortably provided for. I am satisfied, though I am alone in the world, and all I ask of it is to get comfortably through it; I am not disposed to hurry out by any bypath but I wait the leisure of my Lord. I believe my sun will set in peace. I do not love the world, nor the things of the world, and am sorry that so many of our people have such a hankering after the vanities of life. There are all sorts of beings among us, and I know not how long it must be so. * We commit all things to Him whose right it is to reign, and we know assuredly that everything will work together for the good of those that love and put their trust in Him.
“My health is tolerably good while I take care of myself; my work is nearly done in this campaign; I must live easy, or I cannot live at all. * If this should ever reach you, I beg that you will not defer writing.
“Now wishing you to be wholly the Lord’s in this world and in that world which is to come, I bid you farewell.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 11,
1 November 1885, p. 82
The letter, which I copied so freely, shows what people can accomplish by putting their trust in God, and walking in obedience to His will and commands. The writer, in speaking of “the poor, desponding Vilate,” had reference to a time before they had heard “Mormonism,” when, among other doctrines that were being preached, was that of predestination, and she, not being able to feel a change of heart, as others professed to have experienced, finally came to the conclusion that she was one of those doomed to be damned. Since they were married they had lost a number of their loved ones—two babes and her mother, my father’s parents and eldest brother, all but his mother dying under his roof, and altogether it had so worked upon her mind that she sank into a state bordering on despair. They had received pressing invitations to unite with different sects, and had passed through several of their protracted meetings, and, as my father said, he had “been many times upon the anxious bench to seek relief from the bonds of sin and death,” but no relief could he find until the meetings were passed by. They had come to the conclusion to put themselves under the care of the Baptist Church about three weeks before they heard this gospel preached by five “Mormon” elders, who came to their town from Pennsylvania. Curiosity prompted my father to go and listen to them, “When for the first time,” he says, “I heard the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” They had partaken of the sacrament for the first and last time on the day of their baptism into that church. They had never found any minister who could tell them what to do to be saved, only to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” and this only left them in a more unsatisfied and sorrowful state than ever. Though the Baptist faith included some doctrines which they did not believe, they thought it best to put themselves under its charge, it being the best thing they could find.
But a new and important era was about to open in their lives. Fifteen years or so from that date found them outcasts; their goods confiscated, and they driven before the mobs, because of the prejudices raised by those over religious sects—into the wilderness, to seek refuge among the uncivilized and savage races from those bitter persecutions which they had received from the day they had rendered obedience to the only true gospel, which alone had sustained them. My mother’s joy during those days of tribulation, was because of her humility and obedience, and so it was with all the rest who did likewise. The Lord fed them upon the pure bread of life during their trials, when they endured them patiently for righteousness’ sake. He surely fulfilled His part, and I am only one out of many who can testify that some of the most glorious seasons were enjoyed during that time when we were left, as it were, with nothing but a merciful Father to look to for our daily bread, and His arm to protect us from the wicked who sought so diligently the destruction of His people.
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
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.
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.
The struggles that we had with evil spirits were something similar to what the Prophet Joseph Smith experienced in Far West, Missouri. He said the devil contended with him face to face, after he had afflicted his little child, claiming that he had the best right to that house which Joseph had purchased, it having been previously occupied by some wicked people. But he rebuked the devil in the name of the Lord, and he had to leave the house.
My father also had some contests with evil spirits when young in years, and also in experience. The Prophet once requested him to relate those occurrences and the vision of evil spirits in England on the opening of the gospel to that people. After doing so, he asked Joseph what all those things meant, fearing there might be something wrong in him. Joseph’s answer was: “No, Brother Heber; at that time, when you were in England, you were nigh unto the Lord, there was only a veil between you and Him, but you could not see Him. When I heard of it, it gave me great joy, for I then knew the work of God had taken root in that land. It was this that caused the devil to make a struggle to kill you.”
Joseph then said the nearer a person approached to the Lord, the greater power would be manifest by the devil to prevent the accomplishment of the purposes of God. He also gave father an account of many contests that he had had with Satan.
These things I have written for the benefit of my sisters, and I have more which I would like to make known to them, if my life is spared.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 14,
15 December 1885, pp. 105–6
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.
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
Some of the members of my father’s family had previously left for the Great Salt Lake, namely, James Smithies and family, Peter Hanson, Mary Ellen Kimball, and Mary Forsgreen.
My uncle, Wm. Murray, had gone with his wife and daughter and little son—their eldest son having gone with the pioneers—into Missouri to work to obtain an outfit for their journey the next spring. But all were soon prostrated by disease, and Uncle William’s sad forebodings expressed before leaving his beloved sister, were soon realized. He fell a victim to disease brought on by the severe hardship and privations to which he and hundreds of others had been subjected, without even the necessities of life to sustain them.
His family was lying sick unto death in the state of Missouri, and this, added to the already heavy cares that were resting upon my mother’s shoulders, almost overcame her. It was also a heavy blow to his eldest daughter, who was living with mother. But though they felt it a sore bereavement their greatest solace was the thought that he had obeyed the gospel, and had never flinched from his duty, but had died in the harness.
For a testimony to those who may doubt my statements I will present a few lines that were written by my mother July 29, 1847, after seeking a retired place to pour out her soul in prayer to Him on whom she leaned for strength and wisdom, and that light which drives away the unwelcome mists of darkness and brings sweet rest to the weary soul.
“My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And praise Him for His holy word,
For He hath blessed me from above,
And filled my soul with light and love;
My body, too, He hath renewed,
My path with blessings He hath strewed.
My Lord, go with me through this day,
And may I never cease to pray
For wisdom, faith and righteousness,
And may I never ask amiss.”
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.”
It is a sad thing to record the apostasy of any who were once so highly favored as to receive the great spiritual manifestations which were enjoyed by Frances Swan and Sarah Lawrence. Both were sealed to my father over the holy altar in the temple at Nauvoo. The latter named had been the wife of the Prophet Joseph, his first wife, Emma, having given her and her sister to him as his wives for time and all eternity. Sarah made choice of my father to stand as proxy for Joseph in this life. But she allowed a jealous nature to have full sway. She and I became warm friends after she entered my father’s family, and even after she became disaffected and thought to better her condition by marrying another we were still friends and she met nothing but kindness from father and his family, he with mother, and other members of his family went by invitation to spend an afternoon at her house, after she was married to her last husband.
But the man she married had proven truant to one wife and her little ones, leaving them to struggle for existence in this valley through the hardest times experienced here. And not until they had found friends to succor and help to keep the wolf from their door, did he make his appearance, and then he had very little of the gospel though he, at first, professed to be a “Mormon.” He had come from the gold mines of California where he had made what was then considered quite a fortune. It was not long before he proved the truth of my father’s predictions as he denied the faith and returned to California, taking Sarah with him. But it seems she failed to find happiness even in monogamy, as he turned out a dissipated character, and it was only a few years before she was divorced from him. She had lost every spark of the gospel, which had once been her guiding star, and was finally left to herself. She became so wicked that when paying her last visit to Salt Lake she denied emphatically ever being connected to Joseph or to my father, and was very insulting to those who dared to dispute her word. She abused her brother Henry’s second wife most shamefully, when meeting her in his store, laying to her the most humiliating and abusive accusations, which proved her to be a most vicious and heartless woman. Her brother, Henry Lawrence, was so annoyed by her unprincipled course, that he was among the most thankful when she left here and returned to California, where she soon died.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 14, no. 18,
15 February 1886, p. 138
There produce a few extracts from 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. 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.
“N. K. WHITNEY.
“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.
Early in October Bro. William Clayton, with a few others who had preceded the camp of pioneers, arrived at Winter Quarters, weary and worn down by travel, and having been for some time destitute of provisions, and dependent solely upon the killing of wild game for subsistence. They were a sorry looking set, and words would fail to express our feelings when we saw them in such a ragged and forlorn condition, and were told that they must be eight or nine days in advance of the main company; but everyone being interested, they went to work with a will, the women cooking, browning coffee and preparing every good thing that our limited means would admit of. There was no rest nor sleep till everything was ready to start and many a loving message commenced in the midst of it took till far into the night to finish. It had been so long since there had been any communication between us, and some of us were in doubt as to our husbands being with them, as some, we were told, had gone to California, and the feelings that thrilled our hearts under such various and trying circumstances can be better imagined than described; but we did not allow our fears to stand in the way. everyone did all in their power, and it was something surprising how quickly two wagons were loaded—one for father and another for President Young—with grain and vegetables, all of the latter that could be taken, or whatever could be mustered in the way of provisions. I had two apples, which I packed up carefully with bread, cakes and various little parcels—one apple for Horace and the other for Orson, though this particular circumstance had passed from my recollection till reading of it in my husband’s journal with other things received from his father, via., Wm. Kimball—he driving father’s team, and George D. Grant the President’s. In a short letter, hastily written by Sister E. B. Whitney, the present editor of the WOMAN’S EXPONENT, who acted as scribe, Mother Whitney expresses herself as follows:
“We are all well, and hope and pray you are, but we have neither flour nor meal, and have not had any for several days, or we should have baked something to send you so we send you a bag of sea biscuit and a cheese, with a little coffee and sugar. * * The greatest comfort I have had in your absence has been in getting alone to pray for you, that you might be blessed, and I have always been blessed in so doing. I can say that almost my very breath has been prayer for you ever since you left us, that you might return home in safety, and nothing hinder or harm you. * * May the Lord bless and preserve you and return you safe to us, is my constant prayer for you—be faithful and diligent in prayer. I will not write any news, for I shall want to tell you that when you come. I must close, so goodbye.
On the morning of the 8th of October we bade our brethren goodbye with a prayer to Him who had preserved us as within the hollow of His hand, to speed them on their way to the relief of our fathers, husbands and brethren, and let their lives be precious in His sight, and strengthen them, and also their teams, that they might not perish on the plains, but be spared to meet us once more.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 15, no. 1,
1 June 1886, p. 6
As our thoughts and interests were now centered upon the pioneers, it may prove interesting to learn of their whereabouts, and how they were faring about the time of Bro. Clayton’s arrival, with others, at Winter Quarters. The following extracts are from my husband’s journal, commencing September the 30th, which day they passed Chimney Rock and encamped at five p.m. on the banks of the river, opposite a French and Indian camp consisting of ten lodges.
“The man who has charge of this camp is a Frenchman by the name of Rashaw, who is hired to kill game for the inhabitants of Fort John. * * Two Indians visited our camp this evening. Col. Markham went by appointment over to the Indian camp to make some trades with them for the brethren. I sent by him a horn of powder to sell for the money. He returned about eight this evening with the intelligence that the Frenchmen had proposed if we would stay here tomorrow and assist them in hunting buffaloes they would give us half the game that should be killed. Accordingly, it was decided to accept of the offer, and orders were issued this evening that no man should leave the camp in the morning without permission of his captain.”
The morning of the 1st of October he wrote, “Some ten or twelve Indians passed our camp and went out hunting. Brigham, Heber and several others also went out on horseback—they returned about 4 p.m.; had seen quite a large herd of buffalo cows, but when they came to them found George R. Grant chasing them so that they could not get a fair shot; owing to this and Mr. Rashaw with his men not appearing to assist them in the hunt they did not secure any game themselves.”
Mr. Rashaw afterwards informed them that he had instructed the Indians to kill more than they themselves wanted and to give the surplus quantity to our brethren. He speaks of going to the Indian lodges with George Billings and John Buchanan, where they “exchanged a small quantity of salt, powder, and a powder horn for considerable tallow and meat. A number of others made exchanges of a like nature with the squaws, who visited the camp during the day.”
That evening they learned that the Indians who went out in the morning had killed about twenty cows, but whether they would be benefitted by it or not, they had no knowledge. The same day Commodore Stockton and company, who were from the Bay of San Francisco, came in sight and encamped three or four miles from there. The morning of the 2nd a messenger (Col. Little) was dispatched to the camp of Commodore Stockton to ascertain his intentions about accompanying them. The messenger brought the news that he intended to cross the river and take the way to St. Joseph, Mo., as he thought that to be a much nearer road to the states than the one the pioneers were pursuing. President Young, father and others of the brethren dined with the commodore, and the same day some of the pioneers bought a number of horses, and Dr. Richards one cow, of the Frenchmen.
“We renewed our journey at 8 a.m., * * and encamped on the banks of the river opposite the ancient Bluff Ruins near which N. Fairbanks was bitten by a rattlesnake on our journey out.”
They traveled very slowly, owing to the delays occasioned by the killing of buffaloes, as it was considered good policy to lay up a supply of meat while they had the opportunity, most of the camp depending solely upon that for subsistence; being entirely destitute of flour and other provisions. The evening of the 4th it was thought advisable to raise volunteers to go ahead on foot to arrest the progress of the ox teams. Amasa Lyman with twelve others volunteered to go on this expedition. “A letter was written and signed by the President and Dr. Richards to the captains of the company ahead, containing instructions for them to stop and kill buffaloes and dry the meat till they should come up, that they might relieve them of some of their wagons, or of the loads in them. They were well armed and started before daylight the next morning. The camp overtook two of them the day following—John Buchanan and John Crow—the former had been taken sick, and was obliged to stay behind. They stated that the rest left there the night before at eleven o’clock, and were intending to travel all night.”
On the 7th he notes down the following amusing incident, which occurred soon after they left their noon halting place. “Brother Woodruff with his carriage, Dr. Richards, Bro. Benson and a number of others, including myself, had preceded the wagons about half a mile, when all at once we noticed, standing by the side of the road, within a few yards of us, a buffalo bull of rare size. Bro. Benson rode up close to him, but he would not retreat an inch; on the contrary, shaking his head fiercely and elevating his back, he manifested evident symptoms of hostility towards us, and would, no doubt, have made an attack upon us had we not been so numerous; as it was he remained firm and immovable as if he were lord of the soil, and possessed both the power and inclination to dispute successfully the passage of the road. We finally caused him to flee, after the teams came up, by sending our dogs after him.”
The same day he mentions meeting a party of mountaineers on their way from Independence, Mo., to Fort John. They had seen the pioneers from the other side of the river, and came over for the purpose of holding an interview. “Their leader gave his name and title as Captain Walker. Their numbers were eight men. Captain Walker imparted some news to us of a general nature, which we were not before in possession of, concerning the war between the United States and Mexico; we learned that after some little cessation it was now being prosecuted with renewed vigor. * * He also stated that packet steamers were now plying regularly between St. Louis and Council Bluffs; that we would find plenty of buffalo for a hundred or more miles, as we passed along down the Platte River. He himself intends to proceed as far as Fort Bridger, and for aught he knows, to Weber’s Fork, near the Salt Lake. A number of letters were written by different ones to send by him to the valley. * * After spending about an hour with Captain Walker and his comrades we bade them farewell and pursued our journey.”
They encamped at 5 p.m., having made twelve miles that day. He says, “the grass here was comparatively green and high—fuel, buffalo chips, as usual. Soon after our arrival this evening our Frenchmen came, bringing with them a letter which they found in a stick by the side of the road, near a creek about a mile below here. This on being opened, proved to be from Wm. Clayton. It stated that they had passed here the 1st of Oct, being six days ahead of us, and were intending to continue on till they should arrive at some place where there is plenty of wood, and there make a short delay while they should procure an additional quantity of buffalo meat, several of them being short of provisions. * * We also learned that they travelled from fifteen to twenty miles a day, and if this be the case they must be a hundred or more miles in advance of us. Appended to the letter were a few lines from Amasa Lyman, stating his determination to overtake them, if he had to follow them to Winter Quarters.
“The morning of the 8th, after proceeding a mile we saw the stake in which the letter written by Wm. Clayton was found. On one side of this was inscribed the following: ‘B. Y. and Council—A.L.’ The last two letters are the initials of Amasa Lyman, and were probably written by him as he and his comrades passed along. Here the ox teams had encamped, and there were evident signs that they had remained a day or two.
“A large band of elk made their appearance upon the brow of the hill to our left. Two or three brethren went out to get a shot at them, but soon returned without success. Two of our Frenchmen, being mounted on mules, succeeded in killing one of them.” The same evening he mentions himself and his brother Orson being quite unwell, owing to their using so much meat, as they had not tasted of any other kind of food for three weeks. He also wrote, “My pony, continuing to fill rapidly, tonight I turned him loose, considering that it was as well for him to live and be stolen by the Indians, as to die by starvation among us.”
This was the day that our brethren started from Winter Quarters to meet them, and there was certainly good cause for the anxious fears which filled our bosoms and stimulated us to pray without ceasing, not only for the pioneers, but that the Lord would speed the brethren on the way to their rescue.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 15, no. 3,
1 July 1886, p. 18
Saturday, the 9th. At sunset they encamped on the banks of “Junction Bluff Fork,” and the grass there being better than any they had lately seen, it was deemed expedient to remain there the greater part of the day, in order to give their horses a chance to recruit themselves. Here he mentions their having quite a heavy rain storm the ensuing morning. They pursued their journey “at 8 a. m. Proceeding a mile, and forded a small stream, near which in a stick by the side of the road was found a few lines from Amasa Lyman stating that they had left here on Saturday morning last, and that the night before they had gone to the bluffs to procure a supply of meat that they got along rather slow, not making over between 15 or 20 miles per day, but were all well and in tolerably good spirits. Near here we noticed that the ox teams had encamped, from appearances, some 4 or 5 days since. It is the opinion of most of the brethren that Amasa and his comrades are not now more than 30 or 40 miles ahead of us, and if the ox teams do not stop, the brethren weak and faint from living entirely on meat, must necessarily give up the chase.” This day’s journey brought them in sight of a large cluster of trees. He says:
“It is quite cheering to us to come once more in sight of, and to travel along near the timber, after being so long debarred of that privilege.”
Four buffaloes were killed that day and brought into camp on horses. And another was killed the next day and brought to camp in Brother Woodruff’s carriage. The day following, Wednesday the 13th, after traveling 16 miles they discovered two or three large herds of buffalo coming down to the water a little in advance of them. Two brethren went out and each shot a cow and a number were sent to assist in skinning them. “They were gone until ten o’clock, when they returned—Orson bringing in quite a supply of the fattest meat we have seen in some time.”
On Saturday the 16th they overtook “Amasa Lyman and his comrades, with the exception of two viz. Stephen H. Goddard and Father Kellogg. These had left them on Tuesday last determined yet to overtake the ox teams. * * The brethren all looked considerably fatigued with their travels and were glad once more to meet with us. We have but slight hopes of overtaking the ox teams.” * * * Two of the Frenchmen came in this evening, bringing on their mules part of two cows that they had killed.
“Father Chamberlain broke the iron axle tree of his wagon while descending a steep bank when we forded ‘Buffalo Creek.’
“Sunday the 17th. There being few if any buffalo to be seen below here, and a number of our horses having given out, it was determined to remain in the vicinity a day or two, while we could procure some meat and also recruit the failing strength of our animals. Accordingly this morning two captains viz. Luke Johnson and John Brown were appointed to superintend the hunting expedition to be undertaken today in pursuit of buffaloes. Each of them chose their own men and started out on foot about 9 o’clock a.m. * * About noon a number of wagons were sent out to bring in buffaloes in case the hunters should succeed in killing any.
“Monday the 18th. Fine cool weather. Thomas Woolsy was sent out this morning to tell the hunters to come in tonight with what game they had killed, that we might proceed on our way. We started on at 10 a.m., proceeding three miles we met a company of horsemen from Winter Quarters, whose names are as follows:—
“Hosea Stout, George Grant, G. I. Potter, William Kimball, Jacob Frazier, George W. Langley, W. I. Earl, W. Miles, W. Martin-dale, Wm. Huntington, Freeman H. Calkins, James W. Cummings, S. S. Thornton, Levi Heikerson, James H. Glines, Chancy Whitney.”
They had been eleven days coming—had met the ox teams near the ford of the Loop Fork who intended to go on without stopping. “With the horsemen came S. H. Goddard, Ezekiel Kellogg and Jackson Reddin, the latter was with Wm. Clayton when he left the valley. Orson and myself received a letter from mother, and myself one stating that they were all well, etc. * * After spending a little time in conversation with the brethren we went on and encamped at half past three p.m., having come 10 miles today.” One of those who went out in pursuit of buffalo brought word that they had secured enough meat to load the wagons. Furthermore that as “he was returning he saw a large body of Indians across the river some five or six miles distant. It was therefore deemed expedient to send for the brethren to come in tonight. Accordingly a little after dark Hosea Stout, Wilber Earl, J. Redden, J. Mathews, Wm. Huntington, and Wm. Martindale started out on horseback for that purpose.
“Tuesday the 19th. We remained today encamped. This forenoon Brother Heber, Wm. H. Kimball and three or four others went over the river in pursuit of a large herd of buffaloes that had lately made their appearance in the vicinity. They returned this afternoon with a cow.” That evening the hunters who went out on Sunday returned with those who were sent in pursuit of them. “They brought in three wagons which were loaded down with nine buffalo cows in very good condition. Hosea Stout and his comrades did not find them until this morning. I stood on guard tonight the 1st and Orson the last watch. The wolves again tonight entertained us at a distance with one of their agreeable (?) concerts.”
This was their first buffalo hunt. Much of their meat was cut in strips and dried without any salt after the Indian custom, which they called “jerked” meat. Nothing of this is mentioned in the journal but I heard it described, and also ate some of it, which was very palatable, though it would be very hard to be tied to that alone, as they were until they received the supplies from Winter Quarters.
For a time, after the provisions had ran so low that they had to depend on the killing of wild game, for subsistence, they indulged once a week—Sunday—in, a thin porridge made of flour and water. After living so much on meat it seemed to create an appetite for tobacco, some who had never previously cared for it were now eager to get it. The scarcity of the article made it so valuable that the boys would make one cud serve them a number of times, and they would lay it away carefully as a most choice morsel. After every other source had failed, and being in a great strait, my husband, knowing that Brother Benson kept the weed for doctoring horses, went and asked him for a little, which he gave him, and when asked what the charge was, he was told that he could return the favor when they got home by coming to his house and singing some songs for him. This was not written down but was related to me verbally.
Wednesday the 21st he wrote that the camp was able to move considerably faster than they had hitherto done in consequence of their reinforcement of horses from Winter Quarters. He also speaks of the weather being cold, cloudy and windy. They continued their journey “at 9 a.m., proceeding fifteen miles without making any halt. We encamped at 3 p.m. in the bed of the river, which was dry here, between Grand Island and the main shore. * * This was one of the best campgrounds we had had for some time, secured as we were on every side from the howling blasts that swept fiercely across the open prairie. * * The Frenchmen reported this evening that they had discovered traces of an Indian camp, and moccasin tracks of no older date than last night; therefore, the brethren were cautioned to watch closely their horses.” On Saturday they reached the “Loop Fork of Platte River” at three p.m., and encamped on its banks.
“Sunday the 24th, clear weather, though extremely cold and windy. Two wagons made several attempts to cross the river this a.m., which all proved ineffectual on account of the high winds and quicksand giving way beneath the horses feet. One or two horsemen while urging their horses across the stream, were thrown from their backs, on account of their stumbling and sinking in the sand; it was therefore decided to defer fording the river until tomorrow when the wind might cease and we have a better chance for crossing.” In the morning there being but little wind stirring they crossed the river, but men had previously been sent ahead to stake out a track for them to follow, which, he says, after a few of the wagons had passed over became quite firm. We were obliged, however, to double teams, and in some cases a number of men were obliged to accompany the wagons, wading in the water to assist them through. Brother Kimball and myself both did this and were quite chilled through, the water being extremely cold, though not very high.
That evening, by counsel, several of the men “went ahead on horseback to Winter Quarters to apprise the folks that we were closeby, to allay the anxiety that they might feel at our prolonged absence from home.” Amasa Lyman and four others of the pioneers, were the messengers and two of the Frenchmen also accompanied them.
My husband speaks of writing a letter for “Brother Heber to his wife Vilate encouraging her to be of good cheer etc., for we should be with them in about a week.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 15, no. 5,
1 August 1886, p. 34
Tuesday the 26th, rather cold and cloudy weather. We arose early this morning and got started at sunrise. Proceeding 9 miles we forded a large tributary of the ‘Loop Fork,’ about eight rods in width, ascending, a hill we now passed the old Pawnee village, opposite our old fording place. Going a mile further we passed a missionary station, consisting of five or six buildings, that had been built since we were here before.
“It was now entirely deserted, the Sioux having paid it a visit about the last of June when they tore down the fences enclosing the houses, demolished the doors, stove in the heads of flour barrels, and scattered their contents on the ground and destroyed other property in divers ways. * * After leaving this behind we went on a mile further and encamped at 2 p.m. near the old missionary station where we encamped on our journey out having come thirteen miles today. In an adjacent cornfield we put our horses where we gleaned considerable corn that had not been gathered. Some of the brethren also got quite a quantity to eat; near the field there was quite a large patch of oats, which our American horses devoured quite greedily, though the Indian horses did not care so much about it. Today Brother Kimball let me have his prince horse to work before my wagon in the place of John Buchanan’s.”
The rest of the journey they found nothing but cottonwood for their horses to feed upon and in some places a scarcity of that.
Friday evening near their campground they found a “liberty pole” raised by P. P. Pratt, and John Taylor on this journey out.
Saturday the 30th, after traveling 12 miles they came to the “Elk Horn River,” which they forded, and “after proceeding a mile down the stream they encamped at 2 p.m. on its banks in a large grove of cottonwood having come about 13 miles that day. This stream was very high so that we were obliged to elevate our wagon beds before crossing it. Immediately after we were encamped the brethren were called together in the center of the ring, where President Young said that he wished to know who wanted to go ahead to Winter Quarters tonight, and if there were any such to arise; none, however, did. An expression was then taken whether we should all remain in a body, horsemen and all, and go into town together or otherwise; which resulted in the affirmation. President Young and Brother Kimball then spoke briefly, stating that they were satisfied with the conduct of the pioneers during the journey of the past season, and soon after we were dismissed with the injunction to provide plenty of cottonwood for our horses during the night.”
They arrived home early the evening following, Sunday, October 31st. When within a mile or so of Winter Quarters “a halt was called, the company was drawn up in order, and addressed by President Young who then dismissed the pioneer camp with his blessing.” Many of the brethren and sisters went out to meet them. They drove into town in order and the streets were lined with men, women and children to welcome them “home again.”
When we saw them safe back our joy was equal to our sorrows. We could doubly realize why the Lord had so moved upon us to fast and pray, uniting our faith as one in their behalf, as well as for ourselves during their absence; and that it had been nothing less than miraculous that so many were preserved to meet again, saying nothing of the prosperity which had attended us. Many of our people had previously turned their attention to the manufacturing of various articles, such as willow baskets, washboards, half bushels, etc. which they sold to help themselves to a living and preparing for their journey the coming spring.
No picture of despair had been visible, nor were there any doubts entertained of the accomplishment of the journey laying before us, and the building up of Zion in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains. The hand of God had been visible in every trial and to those who sought Him He was ever near.
I will now say to my kind friends and all who have taken an interest in the historical sketches which I have gathered up that the changes which have come to me since I began this pleasant duty, the increase of care and responsibilities thrown upon me through the death of my husband, with various duties which require my attention, I must resign this one at least at the present, as I find it difficult to devote the amount of time and thought which it requires and attend to the tasks incumbent upon me. But I do so with the hope that it will be taken up by some one of our sisters who has more time at her command, as well as ability to do it justice. There are many unwritten incidents which could be related with profit, and prove interesting reading to those who pioneered across the barren, trackless wastes of the great American desert to these once lone and dreary vales of the Rocky Mountains, as well as scores who are not of that number and even many strangers would enjoy reading of those early scenes among the “Mormons.” Had I not received this assurance from different quarters in these valleys as well as from outsiders accompanied with urgent requests to continue these sketches, I should have long since yielded to private feelings and discontinued them. I mention this as a stimulus to prompt others to write and give to the world the benefit of their travels and experience with this people, who are so grossly misunderstood and misjudged by the world generally. For every one of us have a mission upon this earth, and it is only the willing hands and hearts, and those who will sacrifice self to the good of others that will gain an everlasting triumph, and be crowned to reign throughout the glorious eternities to come.
As a closing testimony that a supreme power preserved this people though they seemed forsaken and driven out into the wilderness, I extract one or two paragraphs from a letter addressed by the Presidency at Winter Quarters to “Elders Hyde, Pratt and Taylor” then on a mission to England. The following little incident occurred in Lee County, Iowa, while the Saints were encamped, and many laying sick and destitute on the shore of the Mississippi in the month of September 1846, and seemingly starvation staring them in the face. Flocks of quails “lit upon their wagons and on their beds, and upon their empty tables, and the ground within their reach, which the Saints caught with their hands until they were satisfied and their breakfast and dinner was full.”
“Not only the Saints saw this but the world. A steamboat was passing during part of the time, within six rods and the passengers marveled at the sight, others in the camp, not of us, wondered also. The occurrence continued through the day and followed the camp when they started from the river.”
Tell this to the nations of the earth! Tell it to the kings and nobles and the great ones!! Tell ye this to those who believe that God who fed the children of Israel in the wilderness in the days of Moses, that they may know that there is a God in these last days and that His people are as dear to him now as they were in those days, and that he will feed them, when the power of the oppressor is unbearable, and he is acknowledged God of the whole earth, and “every tongue confesses that Jesus is the Christ.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 15, no. 6,
15 August 1886, pp. 46–47