The High Council met on Saturday and listened to a report from a timber committee, reporting on the number of logs and poles available. The minutes included: "It was decided that every person be entitled to 600 feet of plank for each room he builds; Moses Wade privileged to build a room on the north side of the north wall of the Old Fort. It was decided that every one who farms out and wishes it be permitted to build cabins out of such logs and poles as are not fit for timber or other good buildings, may." A committee was appointed to find a site for "Jordan Bridge" and to determine what lumber would be needed. Fancis Pullin was given permission to set up a brick yard outside the city limits.
On Sunday, Wilford Woodruff preached at Phineas Richard's ward. They met at a school house. After wards he went home with the Richards. Mary Richards wrote: "We had a very interesting visit with him. He told us a good deal about what he had seen in London and other parts of England. Before he left us I [asked] him if he would pray for me. I felt ague would leave me. This he did and gave me a good blessing, said the angels watched over me and that I should soon recover and enjoy health."
On Monday Elder Woodruff spent most of the day reading the words and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, contained in pamphlets and letters. Elder Woodruff commented: "Those letters & writings are of much interest & show the spirit of the times & the mighty rebuke of wicked men by that great, good, & wise Prophet Joseph. I was much edifyed in reading it." During the week Elder Woodruff suffered from a bad headache, so spent the rest of the week reading. He read an account of the terrible potato famine in Ireland. He learned that 130,000 had died and there was no end in sight of the misery.
Hyrum Gates started to teach dancing to nearly three hundred students. Brigham Young remarked the these lessons "contributed much to the cheerfulness of the community, amid the hardships and privations to which they were exposed."
Henry W. Bigler wrote on Sunday: "I and one of the men, a Mr. Barger, went to the creek opposite the sawmill to look for gold where we found a few dollars worth. We found it in the seams and cracks of the granite rock, cropping out of the bank near the creek." The men only worked about three and a half days on the mill because they were distracted by gold fever. Mr. Marshall let them hunt for it if they gave him half the gold they found. On Saturday, Henry Bigler told the men that he was going out to hunt ducks. In reality, he went to hunt for gold in a different place along the creek. Sure enough, he found about $1.50 worth lying on the bare rocks and seams. He kept his discovery a secret.
There were still many Saints scattered across Iowa. Noah Packard wrote to Brigham Young, "There is a number of people in this region of country that are or have been Latter‑day Saints, but as the saying is, they most of them lie low and keep dark, some for the sake of popularity join other denominations."
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.102‑03; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:316‑17; Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1847‑1850, 86; Bennett, We'll Find the Place, 316; Ward, Winter Quarters, 191; Carter, The Mormon Battalion, 48; Bigler, The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith, 110
On Tuesday the High Council reviewed reports from the four wards in the city. There were 188 log buildings, 159 brick buildings, three schoolhouses, six shops, and 1,349 people. A total of 5,173 acres had been surveyed for farming. The Council approved a plan for a personal and property tax to be collected on all those from the age of 18 to 50 years old. The tax would go toward public works. Reports were heard from the bridge committee regarding plans for a bridge over Mill Creek.
On Friday, David and Patty Sessions had dinner at Patriarch John Smith's home. Afterwards he gave patriarch blessings to the Sessions and to Eliza R. Snow.
On Sunday Wilford Woodruff wrote, "It is the most beautiful & warm weather that I ever saw in the winter time." Hosea Stout wrote that it was a "clear, fine, and warm morning." He added that a ferry boat was seen on the river, as the ice has finally broken.
An outdoor meeting was held at the Winter Quarters stand for the first time since fall. Elder Heber C. Kimball warned the Saints that many were leaning on others for their salvation rather than working on it themselves. Elder Wilford Woodruff warned those who were planning to move across the river to make sure they did not settle on the banks because of flood danger.
In the evening a meeting of the Seventies was held. President Joseph Young reproved the brethren for the excessive fiddling and dancing that had been taking place lately. Elder Wilford Woodruff followed him by saying:
I have taken more real enjoyment this evening in hearing the teaching giving by your presidency than I would in hearing a million of dollars worth of fiddle‑strings worn out. . . . It is far better for you to spend your time getting instruction & council than in fiddling & dancing." Elder Woodruff asked the brethren to think how they would feel if the Lord appeared to them and asked them to report on their duties while in Winter Quarters during the winter of 1847‑48. He asked them to consider their feelings if he heard a report of many days of their time spent in fiddling and dancing. "I say would we be satisfied with such record? No we would not. Then let us turn from such scenes of folly & spend more time in meetings for preaching, exhortation, & prayer before the Lord.
On Friday a meeting was held at the log tabernacle for the former Mormon Battalion soldiers who had returned. Elder Orson Pratt presided. Also that day, Elder Orson Hyde returned from the east with mail that arrived from Europe. The brethren enjoyed reading about Elder Dan Jones' missionary efforts in Wales. There were 2,000 Saints in Wales. During the previous six months, 600 people had been baptized there.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.103; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:317‑22; Smart, Mormon Midwife, 108; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 302;
On Sunday no public meeting was held because of snow and mud. The High Council decided to have the bishops go around and collect donations of breadstuff, beef, and money to help the destitute Saints in the valley. The donations would be credited toward their public works tax. In return, the poor, who could not pay the tax, would provide labor on the Jordan Bridge and other public works.
On Monday Lorenzo Dow Young recorded: "A neighboring child came to the door to get some medicine for Brother Cheny. He was poisoned by eating roots. In about one hour after he had called to the door, Brother Cheny was in a fit. We ran to him as soon as possible and he spoke twice. We carried him to the house and did all we could for him. He lived about half an hour then died. It was one of the most melancholy scenes I ever passed through."
On Tuesday Patty Sessions went to the Willard Snow home. Franklin H. Shedd, age twenty‑three, who had been living with the family was very sick. He too had eaten some poison roots and later died in the afternoon. On Wednesday Jedediah M. Grant preached at the funeral. Eliza R. Snow penned a poem which included:
The angel of death with a sudden blow
In the season of youth has laid him low
In a time when the heart's warm springs were rife
With the hopes & the prospects of future life
With the saints of God he was truly blest
And with them he had found a place of rest;
And then from the hand of oppression free
He sung the sweet echo of Liberty
Now his form is laid in the grave to rest;
While his spirit returns to the home of the blest
And from thence to the spirits in prison sent
With salvation's tidings as Jesus went.
Therefore dry your tears & weep no more
For with him the toils of this life are o'er
In the regeneration he will come
Cloth'd with glory, pow'r & immortal bloom.
On Wednesday, the weather turned bitter cold ‑‑ the coldest yet experienced in the valley by the Saints. On Saturday William Hickenlooper was ordained a bishop in place of the late Jacob Foutz. The city marshal was instructed by the High Council to send eight or ten men to Utah Valley. They were to visit with the Indians and investigate reports that the Indians had been driving off cattle and horses.
On Wednesday, as the Twelve were conducting business at Willard Richards' office, Brother Brown came in and requested that one of them preach at his daughter's funeral service. Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff went to the home. Brigham Young spoke at the service and said that it was better to go to a house of mourning than a house of feasting because it turned one's mind to the plan of salvation. He said, "We mourn for the loss of our friends when they die but if they die in the Lord they are better off than the living for they have gained one victory which the living have not. They are beyond the reach of pain, sorrow, wicked men, devils, and devilish spirits." He commented that more than four hundred Saints had been buried in Winter Quarters thus far.
He spoke of the Savior, who redeemed man from eternal death, and whose resurrection made it possible for all to receive an immortal body. He said that the Saints had suffered much because of poverty, persecution, and mobbing. If it was in his power, he would have stopped it, but he said: "It is for our good & will finally prove for our exaltation & glory in the eternal world & gives us experience in this life which we otherwise should not have had."
He said: "No person can have power to raise the dead [in resurrection] except he holds the keys of the resurrection & no man can hold the keys of the resurrection or be ordained unto that power until he has died & been raised from the dead himself." He taught that Adam held these keys. After men were raised from the dead, they would be ordained by Adam or others holding authority with they keys of resurrection.
"When we consider how little time we have to spend in this life in comparison to eternity we ought not to consider it a hard matter to be faithful to God & keep his commandments for when we obtain Celestial glory we shall have to exclaim that it is through the grace of God after all, for the glory far exceeds our suffering in this life."
The ship "Carnatie" sailed from Liverpool with 120 Saints. This was the first emigration ship to sail since the exodus began from Nauvoo. Franklin D. Richards presided over the Saints. His brother, Samuel W. Richards was also on board.
Henry Bigler wrote on Tuesday: "All hands came very near leaving off work to turn our attention to hunting gold, but on thinking it over we thought it a pity to do so before the mill was completed and another thing we thought of was the uncertainty of doing any better than we were doing, for we were getting fair wages and we believed our pay was sure while if we let off work we might lose more in the long run than we would make."
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.104; Smart, Mormon Midwife, 108‑09; Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 217‑18; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:322‑26; Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1847‑1850, 88; Bennett, We'll Find the Place, 344‑45; Carter, The Mormon Battalion, 48
On Sunday, tragedy struck at one of the saw mills. A log was put in motion by some Indians. It rolled over and killed a little five‑year‑old boy by the name of John Oakey.
Several of the brethren desired to return to Winter Quarters for their families. The season still was very early but the High Council granted permission to Levi Hancock and others to "start at their discretion." Andrew Russell was granted permission to build a frame for a cording machine on Mill Creek.
During the week, Wilford Woodruff crossed the river into Iowa, and then traveled about fifty miles south to Fort Kearny. [This was not the fort that would later also be called Kearny, which was about 200 miles to the west, in Nebraska. That fort would be established later in the spring. This fort, "Old Fort Kearny" was located at the mouth of Table Creek, near present‑day Nebraska City, Nebraska.]
Elder Woodruff traveled to the fort with Brother Robert Petty. He was introduced to the officers at the fort and then dined with Brother Albert Petty, who was the fort's blacksmith. On Thursday, Elder Woodruff wrote: "This is the most tedious stormy day we have had this winter. The air was filled with snow through the day. I spent the day reading the life of Benjamin Franklin." He returned to Winter Quarters ferry on Saturday. The river had frozen over but was not thick enough to drive his team across. He left his team in Iowa and crossed over the ice on foot. When he returned home, his family celebrated the birthday of his six‑year‑old daughter, Phebe Amelia.
On Sunday, Oliver Cowdery, one of the Three Witnesses, wrote a letter to Brigham Young. Oliver Cowdery corresponded regularly with Brigham's brother, Phineas, who was also Oliver's brother‑in‑law. Oliver wrote: "I have thought that if circumstances would permit I would visit you in the early part of the spring say as soon as the 6th of April, if possible. This will give me an opportunity of seeing my valuable old friends, and time too of conversing upon interesting subjects. . . . Brother Phineas informs me that you talk of going into the [Salt Lake] valley this summer." Oliver Cowdery mentioned that he had invited David Whitmer (another witness) to also travel to Winter Quarters for the anticipated Church conference. [Oliver Cowdery soon became ill and was unable to travel to Winter Quarters at that time. He did make the journey in the fall as was rebaptized in November, 1848.]
Oliver Cowdery understood that the First Presidency had been reorganized and that there were vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. He encouraged Brigham Young to call Phinehas to serve in the quorum. He mentioned that when the Three Witnesses chose the original Twelve, that they had wanted to appoint Phineas to the quorum, but that Joseph Smith urged them to instead select his brother, William Smith. "The time has now come when Brother Phineas can occupy the place where he ought to have been from the first." [The vacancies were later filled in February, 1849, but Phinehas was not called into the quorum. He later did serve as a bishop.]
Sutter's Mill, California:
On Sunday evening, three former Mormon Battalion soldiers arrived at Sutter's Mill. They were Sidney Willis, Wilford Hudson, and Levi Fifield. Henry Bigler had written a confidential letter to his former mess‑mates, sharing with them the exciting news of the discovery of gold. He cautioned them to keep the news a secret. These brethren had decided to travel to the mill and see for themselves. Mr. Marshall granted permission for these men to do a little prospecting. On the following morning, they found a nugget worth about six dollars. After visiting for a couple days, the men left. On their travels, they discovered gold at a place that later became known as Mormon Island.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.104; Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 220; Smart, Mormon Midwife, 109; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:327; Stanley R. Gunn, Oliver Cowdery: Second Elder and Scribe, 268; Carter, The Mormon Battalion, 48‑9