Letter/IconHE religious sect, self-styled Latter Day Saints, but commonly known as Mormons, arose in the state of New York in the year 1830. On account of their fanatical religious zeal and some of their tenets and practices, which were inconsistent or incompatible with the civilization surrounding them, this peculiar people emulated "Little Jo" in the desire or necessity for moving on. The principal body of them had drifted as far west as Missouri, where they had settled in comparative isolation in Caldwell, Clay, and Jackson counties. Driven from their locality by hostile public opinion or prejudice, in 1840, they were at first welcomed to the neighborhood in Illinois nearly opposite the mouth of the Des Moines river, where they founded the town of Nauvoo. After little more than five years spent in this haven, the latter of which were given to riotous troubles re-

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Engraving from an oil painting in the palace of Brigham Young.

Founder of the Mormon church     Great Patriarch       

sulting in the assassination of the prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum, the "Great Patriarch," in January, 1846, the council of the church proclaimed the intention of the sect once more to move on, and this time to their final retreat at Salt Lake, beyond the great range of mountains, which were then an unsurmountable barrier to the advancing civilization of the Plains. But before this, September 9, 1845, it had been determined to send at once an advance party to the general rendezvous, The first detachment, comprising about sixteen hundred men, women and children, and including the principal officers of the church, started westward early in February, the main body following in detachments, at intervals; and during the spring months as many as 16,000 persons and 2,000 wagons were ferried across the Mississippi. These poorly equipped and provisioned unfortunates



suffered indescribable hardships, which were increased by the unusual severity of the winter. When spring had fairly opened, scarcely half the journey across Iowa had been accomplished.
   Portions of the emigrants settled on the lands of the Sac and Fox Indians, where they proceeded to develop farms and to erect log houses which were to serve as camps for those who were to follow the pioneers. Other camps, some of them of a permanent character, were established along the route -- at Sugar Creek, Richardson Point, Lost Camp, Locust Creek, Sargeants Grove, Campbells Grove, and Indian Town. Many remained at these places on account of the lack of means for proceeding, and some returned to the eastern states. As many as 12,000 were at Garden Grove, Mt. Pisgah, and in settlements west of these places. President Brigham Young, "with a number of prominent brethren," reached the Missouri river on the 14th of June, 1846, at a point near the present Council Bluffs. They camped in the hills until a ferry boat could be built. The boat was launched on the 29th and the next day the emigrants began to cross the river. The other companies, as they arrived from time to time, camped at Council Point, Mynster Springs, Rushville, and Traders Point. Though all beyond the Missouri was "Indian country" and forbidden to settlement or invasion by white men, these determined pioneers pushed westward, opening roads and building bridges across the Papillion and the Elkhorn for the passage of the main body. Some of these forerunners went as far as the Pawnee villages in the fall of 1846, and then proceeded to the northward, wintering near the mouth of the Niobrara river, where they received a friendly welcome from the Indians in that locality. They spent the winter in improvised shanties, some of cottonwood logs, but many of much less substantial and pretentious construction.
   The main body of the Mormons crossed the Missouri river by the ferry at Florence and by Sarpy's ferry at Traders Point. The principal camp was at Cutler's park to the northwest of the last named ferry. Here they entered into friendly relations with Big Elk, the noted Omaha chief, and obtained permission to remain in that neighborhood for two years. By the end of the summer of 1846 upwards of 12,000 Mormons were in the camps on both sides of the Missouri river.
   Soon after the Mexican war broke out General Kearny gave Captain James Allen authority to enlist soldiers among the Mormons, and he raised, in two weeks, a battalion of five companies -- "nearly 600 souls"; but this event delayed the start across the plains until the next year. At Fort Leavenworth each soldier received a bounty of $40, which was largely used for relieving the extreme wants of the people in the Mormon camps.
   During the summer and fall of 1846 the camps were infected by a scrofulous or malarial disease which had been very fatal among the Indians during the previous year. As many as 600 of the Mormons died at the Florence camp. The pestilence returned each summer up to 1851, and invaded the camps on both sides of the Missouri river.
   The great camp on the site of the present Florence was called "Winter Quarters," and there some 3,500 of the emigrants spent the severe winter of 1846-1847. By December, 1846, this magic village counted 538 log and 83 sod houses, which were symmetrically arranged along regularly laid-out streets. Brigham Young, the masterful director of this remarkable enterprise, described the village as follows:

    The buildings were generally of logs, from twelve to eighteen feet long; a few were split and made from linn (linden or basswood) and cottonwood timber; many roofs were made by splitting oak timber into boards, called shakes, about three feet long and six inches wide, and kept in place by weights and poles; others were made of willows, straw, and earth, about a foot thick. Some of puncheons. Many cabins had no floors; there were a few dug-outs on the side hills -- the fireplace was cut out at the upper end. The ridge pole was supported by two uprights in the center and roofed with straw and earth, with chimneys of prairie sod.
   The doors were made of shakes with wooden hinges and a string latch; the inside of the log house was daubed with clay; a few had stoves.

   Schools, churches, and the ecclesiastical



civic government peculiar to the Mormons were established in Winter Quarters. An expensive flouring mill was built, the machinery for which cost as much as $8,000. During the winter the women made large numbers of willow baskets; and for the lack of forage several thousand cattle were wintered on the Iowa side of the river in Harrison and Monona counties, where they fed on the rush bottoms, said to have been extensive there at that time.
   Both of the "twin relics of barbarism" were planted, though temporarily, in Nebraska. The Mormons practiced polygamy, to some extent at least, at Winter Quarters; but the statement that Brigham Young's own inventory of his family counted sixty-six, though apologetically the narrator insists that some of the children were his only by adoption, should be accepted as an illustration of the fact that polygamy existed and not as a fact itself. In the large octagonal council house the revelations concerning the grand march to Salt Lake, which Young had received in fore-handed season -- during the month of January -- were formally arranged and confirmed. The Cutler's park camp had been moved to Winter Quarters in October, and the advance guard returned from their winter's sojourn at Niobrara in the spring of 1847.
   Heber C. Kimball started six teams westward on the 5th of April, 1847, and the party went into camp on the Elkhorn; but Kimball returned to Winter Quarters to attend the conference held on the 6th, at which the final arrangements were made for the departure of the pioneer band, which was to explore the Rocky mountain basin in search of a final rest for the saints. Besides Young and Kimball, prominent among those who attended this remarkable conference, of great social interest and import, were Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, George A. Smith, Willard Richards, Amasa Lyman, and Ezra T. Benson. These were of the twelve apostles.
   On Wednesday, April 7, 1847, this pioneer band moved out of Winter Quarters, and after the first day's march they halted at the rendezvous which had been established by Kimball on the Elkhorn river two days before. Here the final apportionment of goods to be carried and other arrangements in detail were made. On the 8th another party started for the rendezvous; and on the 9th still another, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. This party joined others who had assembled at Cutler's park, and they camped the first night four miles east of Papillion creek. The main body of the pioneer band reached the Elkhorn river on the 11th. The leaders returned from these outposts from time to time to Winter Quarters; but on the 14th the final departure took place, the last wagons leaving at two o'clock in the afternoon. Brigham Young and other prominent leaders were in this party. They traveled nineteen miles that day and camped near Papillion creek, and reached the Elkhorn the next day half an hour before noon. The river was crossed on a raft which had been constructed by the advance band. On the 23d a part of the teams forded "the dangerous Loup Fork of the Platte." It was then decided that it was necessary to build a raft to assist in the crossing. On the 28th the party camped near the present site. of Grand Island. They kept along the north side of the Platte river and reached Scotts Bluff, not far from the present Wyoming boundary, on the 27th of May. They entered Salt Lake valley July 21st, and on the 22d selected a camping ground on the present site of Salt Lake City. This pioneer band of Mormon emigrants comprised 149 people, including three women -- Harriet Page Wheeler Young, wife of Lorenzo D. Young; Clara Decker Young, wife of Brigham Young; and Ellen Saunders Kimball, wife of Heber C. Kimball -- 247 animals and 72 wagons. These were loaded with provisions and farm machinery. This itinerary is from the record of the journal kept by Apostle Orson Pratt, who measured the distance from Winter Quarters to the eighth ward square, Salt Lake City, as 1,054 1/4 miles



   Brigham Young started back to Winter Quarters on the 26th of August with a party of 107 persons, arriving October 31st.
   After the departure. of the pioneer band from Winter Quarters, the others who were able to travel organized a company called the First Immigration. It comprised 1,553 people, with about 560 wagons with a large amount of live stock and poultry. This expedition was under command of Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor, and it reached Salt Lake valley in several divisions during the fall of 1847. The consummate organizing ability of Brigham Young, if not of others of the Mormon leaders, was shown in this great exodus from Nebraska. Young, who went with the pioneer band, was chosen lieutenant-general. The subsequent expeditions were organized and conducted with military precision, being divided into companies of 100 each, subdivided into bands of 50 and squads of 10, each of the companies being commanded by a captain, and all under the authority and command of the high council of the church. Outriders selected each camp on the day preceding, and formed a skirmish line. The wagons proceeded in a double column and at every important halting place were formed in two arcs of circles, openings being left between the sections; the tongues of the wagons pointed outward, each front wheel lapping the hind wheel of the next wagon. The cattle were confined inside this effective corral and fortification, and guards were stationed at the two openings. The people, for the reason presumably that they were not, like the cattle, subject to stampede, took their chances in tents pitched outside the ramparts. When the camp abutted on a large stream, the wagons were arranged in a semicircle, each extremity resting upon the river, which answered for a defense on that side. Overlapping extensions widened the wagon beds to six feet, and they were laden with farm machinery, grains for seed and provender, and the familiar coops of chickens. The larger prairie schooners were drawn by six oxen; but there were all sizes and grades of vehicles between this king of emigrant travel and a cart drawn by a single cow. The wily and wary Indians soon discovered the perfect armed organization of the Mormons, and with the exception of occasional attempts to stampede the cattle, they traversed the country of the hostiles without serious attempts at depredation or attack.
   In May, 1848, Brigham Young headed an expedition from Winter Quarters, comprising 1,229 people and 397 wagons; Heber C. Kimball headed another in July, comprising 662 people and 226 wagons; and Willard

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Richards, following not long after with 526 persons and 169 wagons, left Winter Quarters a deserted camp. The general Mormon emigration over this route continued to be extensive, though gradually falling off, till as late as 1852. The route of emigration from Great Britain was by way of New Orleans up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to Independence, and thence by the Oregon trail, or for those who preferred it, the old route to Council Point near Kanesville. The principal crossing was at Bethlehem, opposite, the mouth of the Platte



river. Old Fort Kearney, and subsequent to 1856, Wyoming, Otoe county, shared this northern Mormon travel. It now followed along the south side of the Platte to New Fort Kearney. "The trail officially recognized and directed was along the north bank of the Platte, leaving Kanesville by way of Crescent, making a rendezvous at Boyer Lake or Ferryville, crossing the river to the abandoned Winter Quarters, then to the Elkhorn rendezvous, with ferries over the Elkhorn and Loup. All the sunflower trails converged at Fort Laramie. The North Plate route was deemed the more healthful, and was thus constantly urged and recommended by the church authorities at Kanesville. Orson Hyde counted 500 graves on the trail south of the Platte and but three north of the Platte, from the Missouri to Fort Laramie."
   Several thousand Mormons, through disaffection or lack of means for traveling, remained in the Missouri valley -- in southwestern Iowa; and as late as 1853 Pottawattamie county was under their complete political control, which was exercised in the choice of political officers, including members of the legislature, with the same rigid exclusiveness that has characterized their government in Utah, and which is characteristic of all combinations of religious zealots.
   The inevitable depredations of the aggressive Mormons upon the groves of timber adjacent to their camps west of the Missouri caused serious trouble with the Indians within a year after the settlement on that side; and those who had not emigrated westward were obliged to settle on the eastern side of the river by permission of the Pottawattomies to remain there for five years. They settled in the Indian creek valley, in the heart of the present site of Council Bluffs, gathering around an old block house there which belonged to the United States. The settlement was at first called "Miller's Hollow," after the Mormon bishop, Miller; Colonel Thomas L. Kane, brother of Elisha Kent Kane, the arctic explorer, was possessed of a dominant spirit, and though a gentile was friendly to the Mormons; so Kanesville supplanted the original name bestowed by or in honor of their own bishop.

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