Saturday, May 1, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning was very cold (thirty degrees) as the pioneer company broke camp at 5:30 a.m.  At 7 a.m., they viewed a fascinating and exciting site.  Seven buffalo were spotted sheltering themselves from the north wind.  This was the first time most of the pioneer camp had ever seen a buffalo.  Luke S. Johnson, Porter Rockwell, and Thomas Brown started to pursue the beasts.1

The camp halted at 8:30 a.m. for breakfast on the bank of the Platte River.  Another herd of buffalo was spotted about six miles ahead on a bluff.  Using telescopes, several of the men counted up to seventy‑four animals.  Three more men went out in pursuit of this herd.

At 10:45 a.m., the wagon train was in motion again.  By noon they crossed the mouth of a creek.  Soon, the buffalo hunters returned.  They wounded several animals, but did not kill any.  “It was new business to them, and they found their rifles altogether too unwieldy in the chase.”

At 1 p.m., yet another large herd of buffalo was spotted at the foot of a hill.  When the camp arrived near the herd, they halted and eleven hunters mounted their horses to go after them.  Thomas Bullock recorded:


At the same time one of the brethren shot at an Antelope, when a dog ran it straight among the herd of Buffalo, which alarmed them, and away they went, raising a cloud of dust behind them, running along the side of the hill in a Westerly direction, then galloped the hunters down & along the hill in full chase; all enveloped in one cloud of dust. . . . Now was a time of great excitement ‑‑ every glass was in operation to see the chase & every man was intensely anxious for the success of our raw hunters; this being their first chase.


William Clayton added:


The brethren’s feelings who were left with the wagons were now strung up to the highest pitch, a feeling of exciting interest appeared to prevail throughout the camp, they having heard and read so much of the mad ferocity of the buffalo when hotly pursued, and knowing that all the hunters were inexperienced in regard to hunting the wild buffalo.  While they felt for the safety of the hunters, they still desired to see as much of the chase as the distance would allow.


Wilford Woodruff wrote:


I was in a company in the centre of the Herd & we all made a charge upon them from the Bluffs & rushed on to the Plain.  The herd ran vary fast down the ruff Bluffs into the plain but when we came on to the Plain we soon came on to them each company singled out his game.  We made choice of Cows generally.  Then rushed up by the side of them & fired upon them with our Pistols such as Horse Pistols, Rifle Pistols &c which are much better to carry than rifles as they are vary combersom in runing.


Heber C. Kimball joined the chase and shot down a buffalo that had been previously wounded.  Horace K. Whitney remarked:  “His horse, partly alarmed at the discharge of the gun, and partly at the sight of the animals, suddenly started, and came very near throwing him.”  William Clayton added:


Elder Kimball’s horse sprang and flew down the bluff like lightning and he having let go the lines to shoot, her sudden motion overbalanced him and his situation was precarious to the extreme.  The other hunters saw his situation and trembled for his safety but could render him no assistance.  However, being a good horseman, he maintained his position in the saddle and soon succeeded in gaining the lines and by a vigorous effort succeeded after some time in reining in his horse and returned to the rest unharmed and without accident.


William Clayton continued:  “This being the first day buffalo has been seen on our journey and in fact the first ever seen by any except about five or six of the brethren, it excited considerable interest and pleasure in the breasts of the brethren, and as may be guessed, the teams moved slowly and frequently stopped to watch their movement.”

The chase ceased at 4 p.m. and some of the hunters returned at 5 p.m.  Others stayed to guard the fallen buffalo.  Wilford Woodruff remarked that he had ridden about ten miles during the chase.  They secured one bull, three cows, and six calves.  “The entire Camp were very glad & felt thankful to our Heavenly Father for supply of food, which came at a very acceptable time, many being without meat.”

Throughout the excitement, the wagons continued to press on.  They traveled through a large prairie dog town, about three to four miles long.  One of the men caught one of the timid animals.  The pioneers established camp at 6:30 p.m. a mile above the head of Grand Island, near a creek that they named Buffalo Creek.  Five wagons were immediately unloaded and several teams were sent back to fetch the meat.  William Clayton wrote:  “Having a great desire to see a buffalo in his natural state, my feet being very sore, and the distance to the bluffs being over three miles, I got into Brother Aaron Farr’s wagon, he being one who unloaded to fetch in the meat, and we started for the one shot down by Elder Kimball.  He and O. P. Rockwell following on horseback.”  On the way, they met Luke Johnson and two others returning.  Brother Johnson had a calf tied on his horse and he was walking on foot.  When they arrived at Elder Kimball’s cow, they found that three of the brethren had already skinned it.  The meat was put in the wagon.  The cow probably weighed about 700 pounds.

They returned at dusk.  “The brethren’s faces beamed with joy to see the meat begin to come into camp, and with some astonishment to view the size and ferocious appearance of the head, which still had the hide on.”  The meat was distributed throughout the camp.  They had a wonderful feast of buffalo:  “Their meat is very sweet and tender as veal.”  Erastus Snow wrote:  “After dark two [buffalo] calves came near our camp and some little youngsters with a dog came close and caught one and made him fast to their wagon.”

In the evening, it was discovered that Joseph Hancock was missing, and had not been seen since breakfast.2  He had started out on foot with his gun toward the first herd of buffalo.  Guns were fired and the bugle sounded to let him know where the camp was located.  They greatly feared for his safety.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Mary Richards worked hard getting settled into her new house:


Washed & scoured all the Tin ware knives &C also the sheets & boxes shelves & the floor.  Got all things fixt in order.  I put on a clean dress & sat down, and our little house seemed to me almost like a Palace.  I rejoiced to think that after passing through such a dreary Winter living in a Tent, and wandring from house to house to keep from perishing with Cold, suffering almost every inconveniance and often very unpleasent feeling, I had once more a place I could call my home.


Eliza R. Snow and several sisters gathered at Sister Leonard’s home.  Sister Snow wrote that they spoke “by the spirit of prophecy that the Pioneers were well, happy, & were in council ‑‑ that tomorrow they will have a greater time of rejoicing than they have ever had.”  Patty Sessions added:  “Sylvia and I went to a meeting to Sister Leonard’s.  None but females there.  We had a good meeting.  I presided.  It was got up by E. R. Snow.  They spoke in tongues.  I interpreted.  Some prophesied.  It was a feast.”


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

Asahel A. Lathrop passed through Summer Quarters with the herd from the north.  They were on the way back to Winter Quarters after spending the winter months feeding on the winter rushes about fifty miles up the river.  The herd had been greatly reduced because of plundering by the Indians.  Isaac Morley arrived from Winter Quarters with some seed potatoes.  In the evening some more men arrived from the north and spent the night.  They included Brothers Simmons, Murdock, Haight, and Miles.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

Henry Standage was ordered to work on a detail at a “bakehouse.”  The government decided to issue the men bread instead of flour, so he worked in the bakehouse all afternoon.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

Robert S. Bliss wrote, “I am in the Fort comfortable situated, Hearty & well, weighing 147 lb., 4 more than I ever weighed in my life before; for which I truly feel thankful to my Heavenly Father after so many hardships as we have suffered in coming here.”



Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 142‑43; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:926; “Excerpts from the hitherto unpublished Journal of Horace K. Whitney,” Improvement Era, 50:276; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:163‑65; William Clayton’s Journal, 116‑24; “Levi Jackman Autobiography,” typescript, BYU, 29; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 121; The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 170; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 159; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 220; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:92


                           Sunday, May 2, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

It was quite cold in the morning.  Ice about a half inch thick was found in buckets.  Just before breakfast, to the relief of the camp, Joseph Hancock arrived.  He reported that he had shot a buffalo yesterday afternoon and became lost.  He had built a fire, and warded off the wolves from his catch.  Men were sent back to retrieve the meat but by the time they found it, much of it had been eaten by wolves.

Even though it was Sunday, it was decided to work at cooking the buffalo meat and to move the camp to a better location to feed the animals.  Levi Jackman wrote:  “Our camp this morning had the appearance of a meat market.  All hands were fixing their beef for cooking or drying and making ropes of the hides.”

Albert P. Rockwood wrote:


I will now state in what way we used the buffalo hides as it is the time of shedding the hair.  We stretch them on the ground by putting sticks through them and driving them into the ground, then with a sharp [knife], trim them round much as a shoemaker would a piece of leather to cut a shoe string.  Then run it into strips from 1/2 inch to one inch wide according to the size we wish to make a [blank] or rope which is made either by twisting or by brading after pulling the hair off.  These answer a better purpose then common ropes for securing horses, cattle, &c.  The hair is used in stuffing pillows, beds, &c.  The bones are broken up to git the marrow which is used for cooking instead of butter.  The meat is cleaned from the bones and jurked over a slow fire so that it will dry & not cook.


 In the afternoon, they traveled three miles and camped by a creek.  Everyone went back to work putting up racks to dry the buffalo meat.  The buffalo calf caught the night before was killed and dressed.3

After camp was established, a herd of buffalo came down from the bluffs to drink at the river.  Some of the men were anxious to go after them, but Brigham Young forbid them, reminding them that it was the Sabbath.

Ahead, the prairie was on fire, burning rapidly.  Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball went a few miles ahead to examine the fire and the trail ahead.  They decided the pioneers should spend another day at this camp to do some blacksmith work and hunt some more.

Levi Jackman enjoyed the buffalo meat:  “The buffalo meat came good to us, for Curtis and myself had lived on cornmeal bread and water porridge for some time; only we could get a little milk of Brother John Brown, to put in it.  When he could spare it he would give us some.  I shall never forget his kindness to us.”


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Parley P. Pratt spoke to the Saints gathered at Winter Quarters.  “I want the brethren to take care of their cattle, and not let the Indians kill them all off, to build pickets round the city to prevent them from coming in to your houses and insulting your woman and children or robbing your tables while they are out tending their gardens.”  He wanted a company to be prepared to leave for the mountains on June 1.  John Taylor also spoke.  W.W. Phelps reported that General John J. Harding, who had been the commander of the Illinois state militia during the fall of 1845, had been killed in a battle between Zachary Taylor and Santa Ana.  Hosea Stout wrote that this news was “a joy to me.”

Elder Lyman O. Littlefield, still preparing to leave on his mission, was invited for dinner at Mary Richards new home.  She wanted him to take word to her missionary husband that she was comfortable because she was finally in a house and was doing well.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

At 11 a.m., the Saints gathered for a Sunday service.  John D. Lee preached on Priesthood duty.  “We are messengers of salvation and special witnesses to the nations of the earth and have been called from darkness to the marvelous light of the everlasting gospel of peace to perform a certain work in this the dispensation of the fullness of times.”


Pueblo, Colorado:

A daughter, Welthy Matilda Higgins, was born to Nelson D. and Sarah Blackman Higgins.4


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

Henry Standage wrote:


For the last two days I have been more or less through the city of Angels . . . and must say they are the most degraded set of beings I ever was among. . . . There are almost as many grog shops and gambling houses in this city as there are private houses. . . . The Spaniards conduct in the Grog shops with the squaws is really filthy and disgusting even in the day time.  Gambling is carried to the highest pitch, men often losing 500 dollars in cash in one night, or a 1000 head of cattle.  All kinds of clothing is very cheap and cattle and horses very cheap.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

Major Cloud arrived from Los Angeles with pay and letters.  They were informed that the rest of the battalion was preparing for a possible attack from John C. Fremont’s troops, “swearing they will kill every damned Mormon in the country.”  It was also rumored that the Mexicans were coming to retake San Diego.



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:165‑66; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 32‑3; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:156; William Clayton’s Journal, 124; “Levi Jackman Autobiography,” typescript, BYU, 29; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 159; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 122; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 220‑21; Journal Extracts of Henry W. Bigler, 5:60‑1; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:92; Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, 1: 253; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” 24

                          Monday, May 3, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning was cold, with ice in the water buckets.  Thomas Tanner and James Davenport put up their portable forges to repair some of the wagons.5 Three buffalo were spotted heading to the bluffs.  The camp rested for the day at this spot because the grass was very good for the animals to feed on.

Twenty hunters went off at 9 a.m. on foot with two wagons to bring in game.  Wilford Woodruff started out with the hunters, but he had jarred himself badly during the buffalo chase on Saturday and felt pain in his side where he had been seriously injured the previous autumn.  The hunters went into the bluffs and separated into two groups.  They traveled through the hills but only spotted antelope and wolves.  After a while, Wilford Woodruff felt so poorly, that he decided to head back with Amasa Lyman and three others.

After the hunters had left camp in the morning, Erastus Snow was directed by Stephen Markham to take fifteen horsemen up the river for ten or fifteen miles to see if Indians were nearby and to determine how widespread the prairie fire was.

Norton Jacob wrote:


Bro. Seth [Taft] our Capt. and four of us started on ahead a mile from camp in some willows.  We discovered a camp which had contained some fifty wickeups or lodges.  The camp fires were still burning.  A large body of Indians had left them upon our approach into the neighborhood on Saturday.  Bro. [James] Case who had been with the Pawnee Missionaries for eight years, expressed it as his opinion that this party is the Gran Pawnees who live below on the other side of the Platte.  Their object is to destroy the grass by burning and driving off the buffalo so that we cannot subsist, ourselves nor our teams.  We proceeded about ten miles and found the prairie burnt and burning as far as we could see.


Erastus Snow recorded:  “We went according to directions about ten miles, and found only here and there a patch of grass not burned, but fire still raging in different directions, and as far as we could see up the river fresh fires and smoke were rising.”  William Empey spotted two antelope and took off after them.6  He ascended a hill and as he looked down on the flat, he spotted a war party of about four hundred Indians.  They appeared to be waiting to ambush the men on horses.  Brother Empey returned to the scouting party and they all returned quickly to the camp, arriving at 2:30 p.m.  On the way back they were followed by about 100 Indians down a ravine who they supposed hoped to rob their horses and take their lives.  They shared the alarming report and also mentioned there would still be enough grass ahead for the teams, despite the fire.

Brigham Young immediately sent twenty‑three well‑armed men on horses to retrieve those who had been sent out to hunt buffalo.  They found the men within four miles.  The horsemen took the opportunity to do a little hunting.  Some buffalo calves were spotted.  William Dykes dismounted his mule in order to get a better shot.7  His mule broke away and ran after the fleeing buffalo.  Stephen Markham, on his horse, pursued the mule and caught it after three miles.  They all returned at dusk with three calves and four antelope.

The cannon was prepared and fired at 9 p.m. to give the Indians a signal that the pioneer company was armed and ready.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Mary E. Gates, age seven months, died of consumption.  She was the daughter of Jacob and the late Caroline Gates, who died in December, 1846.



“Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:927; “Luke S. Johnson Journal,” typescript, BYU, 5‑6; Howard Egan Diary, Pioneering the West, 33; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:166‑67; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 144; William Clayton’s Journal, 126; Knight and Kimball, 111 Days to Zion, 67


                          Tuesday, May 4, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The cannon was fired at 4 a.m. which woke up the camp.  The temperature was thirty‑three degrees in the morning.  Two horses ran east as far as six or eight miles and were pursued by several men back.  William Smoot was thrown from a horse and knocked out of by the fall.  He soon recovered and appeared to have no serious injury.8

Brigham Young called the camp together at 7:30 a.m. and cautioned them against leaving their wagons to scatter off hunting without permission.  The Indian threat was a great concern.  Ten additional guards were appointed to protect the company.  President Young stated that they had proceeded thus far without scolding and it would not be needed if the men strictly followed the camp rules.  He asked that the rules be read every two or three days, especially on Sunday.  “This is not the time for preaching, but for doing -- and it is necessary for every man to be vigilant and seek his neighbor’s welfare as much as his own.”

The pioneers started out their journey at 9 a.m. by traveling in four columns, making five rows.  This was done to be ready in case of an Indian attack.  The cannon traveled in the rear.  Levi Jackman wrote:  “We started on but had not gone far before we found that our fears were too true.  The Indians had set fire to the old grass which was among the new and all was burned together, excepting here and there a small spot.  The sight was gloomy indeed.”

After traveling three miles, they noticed three wagons across the Platte River on the Oregon Trail.  Not knowing much about the river at that point, they continued on.  But later, one of the men waded across the Platte to see who the pioneers were.  This man explained that his company of nine were traders, heading back from Fort Laramie.  He introduced himself as Charles Beaumont.  He had been at the Fort for two years and said he had not tasted bread for four years.  He informed the pioneers that they were about sixteen days from Fort Laramie and that the grass was green and good on the south side of the river but burned away on the north side.  He said that he had never seen so many buffalo along the trail as he had seen this year.  There were several times that they had to halt the wagons to let herds pass.

The trader offered to take letters to Trader’s Point, so the pioneers stopped and quickly wrote fifty‑two letters in an hour to their families.9

Brigham Young wrote to his wife, Mary Ann Angell:


I want to wright a long letter but have not time.  We are all pretty well at present though my labour has been verry hard for me on the journey.  I pray for you continualy.  The Pawnees have watched us close and we have watched them but they have got two of our horses, Bros. Richards’ and Little’s.  Our cattle stand it well. . . . We stop every Sabbath and have a day of rest‑‑the Lord has blessed us in all things for which we are thankful. . . . On Saturday last we saw Buffalo for the first time; they went on a chase after them and got four old ones and five calves which have made us plenty of meat. . . . We shall have to cross the Platte River here on account of feed . . . the prairie is all burnt over on the North side . . . the Pawnees have gone ahead of us and burnt it.  The next company had better keep up on the North side.  I think it is a good route for us hereafter. . . . Joseph and Brigham be good Boys and mind your mother.


Howard Egan wrote to his wife Tamson:


Not having an opportunity to send this letter when I expected to have one, I believe there is now a chance to send it, and I embrace the opportunity with pleasure.  There is some travelers on the other side of the Platte River going down, one of them came over and will take the mail for us.  My health continues to be pretty good.  Thank the Lord we are now in a buffalo country and have killed a number of them, and we are now traveling 5 wagons abreast of each other as there is Indians all around us, and we have not time to write much.  We have just stopped our teams for a few moments, we are about 250 miles from the camp. . . . Dear Tamson, I want you to be humble and prayerful, to take good care of yourself and your children, pray for me for I do not forget you night nor morning. . . . May the Lord God of Israel bless you and your children, and preserve you until I return that we may enjoy each other’s company again.  Give my love to all.  Goodby my dear, think of me.


William Clayton wrote in his journal:  “I feel my mind relieved by this unexpected privilege of writing back to my dear family and hope they will have the pleasure of perusing the contents.”

John Brown, Thomas Woolsey, and John Pack accompanied Charles Beaumont back across the Platte to deliver the letters to their wagons.10  They also gave the traders enough bacon and bread to last their company until they reached the Missouri.  Some of the men purchased buffalo robes.  The rest of the pioneers continued their journey for three miles and then rested the teams.  When the three men returned to the company, a council meeting was held to determine if the company should cross the Platte or continue their journey on the north side of the river.  They understood that it appeared that the grass would be much better on the south side.

Wilford Woodruff wrote:


But when we took into consideration the situation of the next company & thousands that would follow after & as we were the Pioneers & had not our wives & children with us we thought it best to keep on the north side of the river & brave the difficulties of Burning Prairies & make a road that should stand as a permanent route for the Saints independant of the old emigration route & let the river separate the emigrating companies that they need not quarrel for wood, grass or water & when our next company came along the grass would be much better for them than it would on the south side as it would grow up by the time they would get along.  A vote was called & it was unanimous to go on the north side of the river.

After the council meeting, the pioneers moved on, traveled a total of nine miles, and camped near a creek which the pioneers gave various names: Grand Creek, Buffalo Creek, and Clear Creek.  A large herd of buffalo lay only a short distance ahead.

Orson Pratt recorded:


Antelope for a few days have been quite plenty, and buffalo almost constantly in sight.  We have not as yet seen any fresh signs of Indians or their horses & we have generally concluded that the large party seen yesterday [by William Empey] were nothing but a drove of antelope or some other wild animals mistaken in the distance for Indians, a mistake is not unfrequent in western prairies.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

The Anson Call family arrived at Winter Quarters from Ponca.

Sarah Ellen Turley, age twenty-nine, died of scurvy.  She was the wife of Theodore Turley.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

A meeting was held in the evening at John D. Lee’s house.  Several resolutions were adopted.  M. M. Sanders was to herd all of the cattle for $1.50 per day, payment in crops in the fall.  All the sheep were to be penned up at night.  A bridge was to be built over Mire Creek on Saturday for the cattle to pass over.  Samuel Gully was appointed as the Summer Quarters clerk.  A gun fired three times was to be an alarm of distress.


Garden Grove, Iowa:

Luman Shurtliff arrived back safely from his journey to obtain donations for the Garden Grove Saints.  He had been gone for three months.  He had traveled two thousand miles and had successfully obtained $1,500 worth of goods through much hardship.  He was very glad to be home.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

Jefferson Hunt wrote a letter to Brigham Young:


We are in perfect suspense here.  In two months we look for a discharge and know not whither to steer our course.  We have a very good offer to purchase a large valley, sufficient to support 50,000 families connected with other excellent country, which might be obtained.  The rancho connected with the valley is about thirty miles from this place, and about twenty miles from a good ship landing.  We may have the land and stock consisting of eight thousand head of cattle, the increase of which was three thousand last year, and an immense quantity of horses, by paying 500 dollars down, and taking our own time to pay the remainder, if we had only the privilege to buy it.  There are excellent water privileges on it.

An order was read from Colonel Cooke giving the men the privilege of reenlisting with the army for a five‑year enlistment after being discharged from the battalion.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

Thomas Dunn wrote:  “We received 6 months of our pay which was gladly received.  Though many made a bad use of it in drinking and carousing.”  The “Hauns Mill Begger” was convicted for stealing a pocket knife and sentenced to work the “Doby Yard.”



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:167‑69; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 33; Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 553; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 384‑85; “Luke S. Johnson Journal,” typescript, BYU, 6; Our Pioneer Heritage, 14:208, 506; The Exodus and Beyond, 40; William Clayton’s Journal, 127‑32; “Levi Jackman Autobiography,” typescript, BYU, 30; Our Pioneer Heritage, 4:373; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 144‑46; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 220‑21; “Journal Extracts of Henry W. Bigler,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 5:60; Kelly ed.,  Journals of John D. Lee, 159‑62; Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, 79


                       Wednesday, May 5, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning was warm, fifty‑eight degrees.  As the pioneers arose, they saw a herd of buffalo nearby.  At 8 a.m., they started their journey.  They soon came to a bad swampy area and had to take a detour to the north in order to cross it.  From there, the prairie was quite soft and the horses feet cut deep into the sod.

After eight miles, a little before noon, they found some grass that had escaped the fire and stopped to let the teams feed.  Two buffalo bulls approached the herd and men were sent to drive them off.  Orders had been issued to not kill anything that could not be carried to the next camp.  Norton Jacob explained why these orders were necessary:  “The president had directed then not to kill anything they could not bring in on their horses, but the anxiety among some men to singnalize themselves by killing a buffalo or an antelope is so great that they cannot refrain from the shedding of blood without a commandment.  Well they had better learn wisdom.”

Wilford Woodruff wrote:  “We rode up within 3 rods of one [buffalo] that was asleep, stopped & looked at him for some minutes.  He awoke & shook himself & leaped off.”

During the afternoon some of the hunters brought in a buffalo cow and five calves.  Heber C. Kimball and Orrin Porter Rockwell caught a live calf which they hoped to try to raise.  Wilford Woodruff wrote:  “It would drink water out of a pail.  They had some sport in trying to make it suck to a cow.  It would try hard to bunt the men & dogs & some got hard raps.”11

At 4 p.m., they reached a column of fire, running from the river to the north as far as they could see.  They decided it would be safest to camp on the burned prairie, about a half mile back.  Thomas Bullock wrote:  “The teams then turned round & the Wind blew the ashes of the burnt grass in all directions which soon caused us to look like [Chimney] Sweeps.  However by washing, after our halt, we were enabled to discern each other again.”  William Clayton commented that the brethren looked “more like Indians than white folks.”  They let the animals graze on some patches of grass until dark.  Some of the horses were taken out to an island and cottonwood trees were cut down for them to browse on.


Garden Grove, Iowa:

Luman Shurtliff delivered the donated goods and money to the President of the settlement, President Fullmer.  He distributed the goods to all the poor.  Brother Shurtliff wrote, “Thus, the Lord provided for his poor saints at Garden Grove.”


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

News arrived from San Diego that Lydia Hunter had died.  Nathaniel V. Jones was concerned about William and Melissa Coray.  He had not heard from them and assumed that they must be sick.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

When Robert Bliss woke up in the morning, he saw a signal flag on the fort signifying that a ship had been spotted.  “I looked as far as the eye could discern and saw the white sails of a vessil approaching our Harbour; in a few hours She entered our Port.

Word came that a messenger had arrived at Pueblo [Colorado] from Winter Quarters with letters for the battalion.  The battalion members in San Diego hoped that the news was true and that they would soon hear from their families.

Henry Bigler went with some of the men to find timber to make pack‑ saddles for their contemplated journey home soon.  They could not find the right timber, so Henry went to the bay to hunt for clams.  He found a skeleton of a whale with ribs nine feet long and nearly a foot wide.  Parts of the backbone were carried back to the fort to be used for seats.  The men were given permission to be hired to work for the citizens of San Diego.



Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 386; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:169; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 147; “Luman Shurtliff Autobiography,” typescript, BYU, 74; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:16; “Journal Extracts of Henry W. Bigler,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 5:60; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:92; “Norton Jacob Journal,” typescript, BYU, 64


                         Thursday, May 6, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

Some rain fell overnight which put out the prairie fire.  The pioneers started the day’s journey without feeding the animals because all the grass was gone.  They traveled three miles and finally reached a point beyond the burned grass.  They stopped to let the animals feed and to make breakfast.  A young buffalo calf came into camp, following Luke Johnson.  Brigham Young instructed that it be placed in sight of its mother.  They gave it some milk and then left it behind when they started again.  George W. Brown and another man foolishly scared off the mother and later it was discovered that the calf was killed by a wolf.12

After ten miles, they halted to rest on the prairie.  Very little timber was seen.  Two antelope were killed, but since there was plenty of meat in the camp, Brigham Young issued orders that no more game should be killed.  Many buffalo were seen during the day.  Some of the brethren walked very close to the herds and observed that the bulls were shedding their coats.  The pioneers’ herd of cows started to run among the buffalo, and great effort was spent to separate them.  During the chase, Brigham Young lost a valuable spy glass.

The pioneers continued on.  Wilford Woodruff wrote:  “We continued to journey among the herds of buffalo & we are not out of sight of them at all.  They have [ate] the grass out to such a degree that our cattle & horses can get but vary little to eat.  We camped near a herd at night that reached as far as our eyes could extend.  There were thousands in it.”

William Clayton penned:  “The prairie looks black with [buffalo], both on this and the other side of the river.  Some think we have passed fifty, and some even a hundred thousand during the day, or have seen them.  It is truly a sight wonderful to behold, and can scarcely be credited by those who have not actually seen them.”

Orson Pratt recorded:


I think I may safely say, that I have seen 10,000 buffalo during the day. . . . One buffalo cow we found near our road, which seemed to be sick or weak through old age, although able to stand, yet she did not feel disposed to run; we gathered around her, while some caught her by the horns, but she was too weak and feeble to do any harm.  We left her quietly to live or to die. . . . Young buffalo calves frequently came in the way, and we had to carry them to a distance from the camp to prevent them from following us, and being in our way.


Luke Johnson added, “The buffalo became very tame, the brethren would go to them when they would be lying down and stroke them with their hands and play with their calves.”

“The South side of the River is very green & [has] much better grass than on the north side,” wrote Thomas Bullock, “but we had rather go a little slower & continue making a new road on the North side for the future use of the Saints.”


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Patty Sessions helped with the labor and delivery of a baby for Helen Mar Kimball Whitney.  Sadly, the baby, named Helen R. A. Whitney was stillborn.13

Sister Whitney later recorded her feelings:


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 its sting, till I could say, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”


Brigham Young’s sister, Fanny Young Murray, later wrote a letter to Helen’s uncle that included:


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 joy of heaven that she enjoys rather than suffers her bereavement.



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:169‑70; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 35; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 386‑87; “Luke S. Johnson Journal,” typescript, BYU, 7; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 147‑48; William Clayton’s Journal, 133; Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, 81; Woman’s Exponent, 14:10: 78, 14:11:82


                            Friday, May 7, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The pioneers did not start their journey until about 11 a.m.  It was cold and uncomfortable because of a high wind.  The animals were giving out and needed some extra time to feed.  Also, an axle‑tree needed to be replaced on a wagon.  Erastus Snow was reproved severely by Brigham Young for not doing his duty the previous day driving the cows.  President Young lost his spy glass while attempting to gather the cows back together.  Brother Snow defended his actions but President Young was firm in his reprovement.  Brother Snow wrote that this was his first rebuke during his fifteen years in the church and that he hoped that it would be his last.  President Young also cautioned the men to no longer go out among the buffalo on foot.  He again told the men to not kill any more game until the meat was needed by the camp.  More teams were raised to pull the cannon.

As the pioneer traveled, they saw “one continued string of buffalo.”  Wolves could be seen following the large herds to pick off any of the weak or old.’ Thomas Bullock recorded, “About 1:00 the camp came in view of thousands & thousands of the Lord’s cattle, yea the cattle on a thousand hills as the scriptures speak of ‑‑ surely the Fat Bulls of Basham are here.”

William Empey called this place the “valley of dry bones for it looks as thousands of buffalows killed.”

Appleton M. Harmon described the area:  “On the opposite side of the river there is a tall range of bluffs, in appearance not more than two miles from the river.  The bottom looks green from here and immense herds of buffalo are there.  The river is between a mile and a mile and a half wide.”

The company traveled about six miles and camped near an island.14

Porter Rockwell, Thomas Brown, and Joseph Matthews went back and found Brigham Young’s prized spy glass.  During the late afternoon, the entire camp was called out to be exercised in military tactics.  Brigham Young and others rode on ahead to scout the trail ahead.  They spotted a skunk for the first time.

In the evening, the men participated in dancing to the violin until the horn blew for prayers.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

The Omaha Indians again tried to drive off seven or eight oxen belonging to the Saints.  About twenty men went after them and brought some back.  Hosea Stout was having difficulty raising a nightly guard to protect the city.  He wrote, “The spirits of the people is dull about their own protection and safety & seem unwilling to do anything to keep up the guard.”  At about 10 p.m., a report was received that Omahas were near the south end of the city.  Brother Stout quickly asked the bishops to raise men to guard the south end of town.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

News was received that the Saints in Winter Quarters were reduced to only eating one meal per day because of scarce provisions.  Also, it was reported that George Miller and others were leaving to join Lyman Wight in Texas.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

An order was read from General Kearny appointing Colonel Jonathan D. Stevenson, of the New York volunteers to command the post at Los Angeles.  Colonel Cooke was relieved to return to the United States with General Kearny.



“Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1020; “Charles Harper Diary,” 21; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:157; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 18; “Luke S. Johnson Journal,” typescript, BYU 7; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 388; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:170‑71; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 148‑50; Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, 1:253‑54; Kelly, ed.,  Journals of John D. Lee, 162; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly 4:16; “Journal of William A. Empey,” Annals of Wyoming, 21:124; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” 27


                          Saturday, May 8, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The pioneers did not start their journey until 9 a.m. because the animals still needed to feed on the scarce grass.  During the morning wait, one of the men caught a young hare alive and brought it back to camp to show the others.  After exhibiting it to the men, it was set free.

Wilford Woodruff recorded:


I rode forward to day with the Twelve & others & of all the sights of buffalo that our eyes beheld this was enough to astonish man.  Thousands upon thousands would crowd to gether as they came from the bluffs to the bottom land to go to the river & slues to drink untill the river & land upon both sides of it was one dark spectacle of moving objects.  It looked as though the face of the earth was alive & moving like the waves of the sea.


William Empey commented that the buffalo were so thick in places that “no person could see through them, for they were like a cloud strung along both sides of the river.”

Many of the buffalo walked very near the wagon train.  The pioneers had great difficulty keeping the cattle and horses separate from the buffalo herds.  Norton Jacob wrote:  “Indeed we had to stop to let them take their own time in getting out of our way.  If the horsemen would chase them away, they would turn around and look at them [the horsemen] as soon as they stopped.”

 Bones and carcasses of buffalo were abundant.  Some human bones were found and were thought to be Indians.  At 1 p.m., they stopped to feed the animals.  Appleton Harmon wrote:  “Where we halted the buffalo seemed to form a complete line from the river, their watering place, to the bluffs as far as I could see, which was at least four miles.  They stood their ground, apparently amazed at us, until within thirty rods of the wagons when their line was broken down by some fright and running off.”  William A. Smoot’s horses ran away.  Several men had to ride at full speed to overtake them.  They had to run more than a mile in a large buffalo herd.  Finally they were able to bring them safely back to camp.

After traveling a total of eleven miles, the pioneer company camped near the river.  Several members of the Twelve climbed the highest bluffs nearby and viewed the land through their telescopes.  “The whole surrounding country north, east & west as far as our vision could extend looked as rough as the sea in a storm of ridges & valleys of mostly sand with scarcely any green thing upon it.”

Wilford Woodruff found a “Spanish soap root” which the Mexicans used for washing instead of soap.  He brought some back to camp, ground it up, and observed that it would fill a dish with suds like soap.

Many of the animals were in terrible shape, starving for food because the grass was eaten up by all the buffalo.  The suppers were cooked over buffalo chips.

William Clayton recorded this historic entry in his journal:


I have counted the revolutions of a wagon wheel to tell the exact distance we have traveled.  The reason why I have taken this method which is somewhat tedious, is because there is generally a difference of two and sometimes four miles in a day’s travel between my estimation and that of some others, and they have all thought I underrated it.  This morning I determined to take pains to know for a certainty how far we travel today.  Accordingly I measured the circumference of the nigh hind wheel of one of Brother Kimball’s wagons being the one I sleep in, in charge of Philo Johnson.  I found the wheel 14 feet 8 inches in circumference, not varying one eighth of an inch.  I then calculated how many revolutions it would require for one mile and found it precisely 360 not varying one fraction which somewhat astonished me.  I have counted the whole revolutions during the day’s travel and I find it to be a little over eleven and a quarter miles, ‑‑ twenty revolutions over.  The overplus I shall add to the next day’s travel.  According to my previous calculations we were two hundred eighty‑five miles from Winter Quarters this morning before we started.  After traveling ten miles I placed a small cedar post in the ground with these words written on it with a pencil.  ‘From Winter Quarters, two hundred ninety‑five miles, May 8, ‘47.  Camp all well.  Wm. Clayton.’ . . . I have repeatedly suggested a plan of fixing machinery to a wagon wheel to tell the exact distance we travel in a day, and many begin to be sanguine for carrying it into effect, and I hope it will be done.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Thomas Callister, age seven months, died.  He was the son of Thomas and Caroline Smith Callister.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

At 7 a.m., most of the men in the settlement met at a creek east of the square to begin building a bridge.  They were able to get all the timber together, raise the abutments, and put on the stringers.  In the afternoon, Brigham Young’s sons (Joseph and Brigham Jr.) arrived with George D. Grant with eighteen head of cattle to be herded.  They reported that about thirty Omaha Indians had driven off twelve cattle from the herd, butchered them, loaded up the beef, and escaped.  A few men from Winter Quarters caught up to them, but because the brethren were not armed, the Indians cocked their guns and ordered the men to go back.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

An express brought the sad news from Santa Fe that the army had a battle with the Navajo Indians at Taos, New Mexico.  Letters were also delivered to some of the men from Nauvoo and Council Bluffs.  Colonel Cooke ordered Lt. Samuel Thompson and twenty men to take three day’s rations and patrol the countryside near Isaac William’s ranch.  It was reported that there were some Indians causing trouble.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

A ship, anchored in the harbor, bound for the East Indies, fired a salute.



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:171‑72; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 35; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 389; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 19; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 150; William Clayton’s Journal, 136‑37; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 163; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 221‑22; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:92; “Journal of William A. Empey,” Annals of Wyoming, 21:124; “Norton Jacob Journal,” typescript, 66


                           Sunday, May 9, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning was very cold.  Even though it was Sunday, the camp needed to move because the animals had no grass for food.  At 7:50 a.m., they traveled three miles around some bluffs on sandy ground near the river.  Luke S. Johnson, Edmund Ellsworth, and others caught a four‑year‑old Buffalo bull and guided him to the river for water.  They then let him go.  The pioneers camped near some islands that had plenty of wood, but the feed was poor.  They took the horses to an island and cut down some cottonwood for them to browse on.15

Many of the men went down to the river to wash their clothes and themselves.  William Clayton wrote:  “After washing and putting on clean clothing I sat down on the banks of the river and gave way to a long train of solemn reflections respecting many things, especially in regard to my family and their welfare for time and eternity.”

At 3 p.m., the bugle sounded, calling everyone to a Sabbath meeting.  “Revenue Cutter” (the boat wagon) was used as a stand.  The meeting was opened by singing “Come all Ye Sons of Zion” and Amasa M. Lyman offered the prayer.  Speakers included Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, Amasa Lyman, Ezra T. Benson, and Roswell Stevens.  Orson Pratt said that he had traveled far in his life, but he never had traveled among so many men that observed such good order.  He testified that the Spirit of God was in the camp.  He commented that some believed they would get over into Bear River Valley in time to plant spring crops but he did not believe this would be so.  “We must prepare for difficulties that we should be in condition to cope with whatever circumstances we should be thrown into and make the best of it.  If we do not get there in time enough to return next fall, we must winter there and make the best of it.”

Amasa Lyman said that the camp must be patient, a virtue that would be more valuable to them than gold and silver.  Erastus Snow also spoke, confessed his wrong actions during the week, and asked the brethren to forgive him.  He said that he deserved the rebuke that had been given to him from Brigham Young because he did not govern himself.  He became angry when he should have been calm.  Elder Woodruff commented about the meeting, “We had a meeting & a good one.  The spirit of God rules over the camp.  Peace quietness & contentment seems to pervade almost every breast.”  The meeting was closed by Thomas Bullock reading the minutes from the last meeting, including the rules of the camp.

Thomas Woolsey, Roswell Stevens, and John Tippets were preparing to leave for Pueblo, to deliver letters and give instructions to the sick detachments of the Mormon Battalion and the Mississippi Saints who had spent the winter there.  The Twelve met together and decided it was best to delay this journey until the pioneers reached Fort Laramie.

A small box was made and nailed to a tall post.  A written history of the camp up to this point was placed in the box intended to be read by the next pioneer company.  Also nailed on the post was a sign that read “From Winter Quarters three hundred miles, May 9, 1847.  Pioneer Camp all well.  Distance according to the reckoning of Wm. Clayton.”

Some of the brethren rode out to scout the road ahead.  They saw large herds of buffalo heading to the river for water.  They were amazed to see how lean the buffalo were because there was not enough grass to feed the thousands of buffalo.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Hosea Stout let Titus Billings and his family move into one of his houses.  They had been so kind to the Stout family during the journey from Mount Pisgah to Council Bluffs when Brother Stout was “so much worn out with sickness, poverty, and distress.”

A meeting was held at the stand during the morning.  Parley P. Pratt read a letter from Brigham Young and the pioneers written to Saints.  Elder Pratt spoke out against the “dullness” of the Saints and their neglect in following the counsel of the Twelve regarding the herding of cattle.  He mentioned that some brethren were murmuring that Elder Pratt and Taylor were giving counsel contrary to Brigham Young regarding killing Indians.  He stated that no one had ever heard them given instructions to kill Indians.  But, the Indians should not be permitted to come into the city and endanger lives.  He condemned those who recently stood by and did nothing as the Omahas drove off some of the cattle.  Their actions expressed an open invitation to the Indians to come again and take more cattle.

Elder Pratt spoke of an incident when one of the wives of a member of the battalion was having difficulty herding one of her cattle.  She asked a brother for help but he refused.  He told her to get it back herself, and told her to mind her own business.  Any man who acted like this should be cursed.  Mary Richards commented:  “Brother Pratt seemed to be filled with the good spirit to overflowing.”

A meeting was scheduled for the afternoon.  More of the Saints were encouraged to attend.

In the afternoon, Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor spoke to the Saints.  The Saints were called upon for a sustaining vote to obey counsel, work together, finish stockading the city, and that none would head west until the stockade was complete.  More instructions were given regarding protecting the cattle from the Indians.  A company of “ten rough Rangers” was to be raised to guard the herds from the Omahas.  They were to be led by Hosea Stout.16

Martha Jane Dalton, age six months, died of dropsy in the head.  She was the daughter of Charles and Mary Warner Dalton.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

A Sabbath meeting was held at the home of John D. Lee.  Brother Lee said “that peace and union which is so essential to the happiness of all but more especially the Saints, was what he pled for, hoped and prayed for, and that our prosperity and safety depended on it.”  In the evening a meeting was held to discuss the division of land down in the timber.  A few brethren had already staked their claims and this had caused some hard feelings.17  The brethren at Summer Quarters were constantly having arguments over the division of land.


Council Bluffs, Iowa:

A daughter, Elizabeth Ann Norton, was born to John W. and Rebecca Hammer Norton.18


St.  Louis, Missouri:

James Lewis and Emily Jennison Holman were married.19


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

Most of the histories of the Mormon Battalion state that their only battle was against wild bulls and that they never had to fight against or take any human lives.  This is incorrect.  On this day, the patrol that was sent to Isaac William’s ranch battled against Indians.  The patrol surprised a band of Indians in a mountain cave and killed five of them.  Benjamin F. Mayfield and Samuel Chapin were slightly wounded by arrows, one on the face and the other in the thigh.  The patrol included some Mexican guides who brutally scalped the dead Indians and cut off their ears and noses before the men of the battalion could prevent them.20

General Kearny arrived at Los Angeles and was greeted by a twenty‑one gun salute.  He went to the Mormon Battalion camp and met the Mormon soldiers for the first time.  He talked with many of them and offered good advise.



Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 35‑6; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:172; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1021; “Charles Harper Diary,” 21; “Luke S. Johnson Journal,” typescript, BYU, 7; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 151; “Journal of William A. Empey,” Annals of Wyoming, 21:124, 146; “Norton Jacob Journal,” typescript, 67


                         Monday, May 10, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning was cold ‑‑ thirty‑three degrees.  The pioneers built large fires and wore overcoats as they went about their morning routine.  Wilford Woodruff recorded:  “Before leaving the camp ground, a letter was written to the next camp, put into a small box nailed to a post 12 feet long, one end put firm in the ground, the other end erect in the air as a guide board containing the following words: ‘Open this box and you will find a letter.  316 miles to Winter Quarters.  Bound westward.  Pioneers.  Lattitude 41 degrees.”  Also on the pole was put the humorous inscription, “Platte Post Office.”  Included with the letter was a written history of the camp up to this point.  They also included a copy of the camp rules which Brigham Young called “scripture.”

The camp was on the move at 9 a.m.  After two miles, they crossed a 15‑foot wide creek that Heber C. Kimball named Skunk Creek.  Shortly thereafter, they spotted a wild horse.  John Brown stated that when the Mississippi company traveled on the other side river during the last season, one of the brethren lost a mare and two colts.21  He believed that this was the older of the two.  When Thomas Woolsey and John Tippets returned from Pueblo during the winter, they saw the same horse near this location.22  Porter Rockwell and Tom Brown tried to chase it but it ran away at great speed.  The buffalo were not as numerous as days past, but the grass was still very scarce.

During the morning, Orson Pratt was requested by Brigham Young to think about the odometer idea of William Clayton.  In the afternoon, Elder Pratt offered a detailed design of such a machine.  Appleton M. Harmon went to work in constructing such an odometer.

In the afternoon, they traveled an additional four and a half miles, making ten miles total for the day.  As the pioneers traveled, they ignited some dead grass which would help new grass to grow for the next company.  Wilford Woodruff commented, “It made a great fire indeed.”  At 4 p.m., Brigham Young’s weary teams gave out.  Others also experienced this problem.  The pioneers helped each other reach the next camp by an island of cottonwoods.

Orson Pratt recorded:  “The timber on the small islands, and on the shore of the river, is more plentiful than usual.  In the deep ravines, between the hills on the opposite side of the river, there appears to be clumps of small timber, resembling in the distance cedar, or small pines.”

The hunters brought in one buffalo, a deer and a hare.  The meat was distributed throughout the camp.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Hosea Stout and his ten “tough rangers” mounted up and rode to the north through the hills hunting for Indians who might be trying to steal cattle.  They circled to the south and found a large number of Indians six or seven miles southwest of town who were traveling toward Winter Quarters.  Hosea Stout recorded:  “Supposing them to be Omahas going to the flat to drive cattle from thence, I sent two men to notify the herdsmen there to drive in their herds, while we stayed on the hill to watch them least they should go around on the ridge & drive cattle from thence.”  They intercepted the Indians and discovered that they were Otoes.  There were more than forty of them and they were led by “Captain Caw” who knew Brother Stout.


They all seemed to want to shake hands with me.  I suppose he told [them] who I was.  The whole bottom was full of cattle, at this time all in a tumult running & driving dust flying to get to town so I sent a man to tell them to stop while we all turned out our horses to graze with the Otoes for they had horses.  After grazing a while, we came into town about three o’clock & they went to the council house & put up for the night.  A church ox was given to them for their supper.


 The Otoes further discussed having the Saints help them haul corn.

Lyman O. Littlefield stopped and visited with Mary Richards.  She had thought that he had left for his mission a week earlier and joked with him as if he had already returned from England.  “I asked him several questions about his journey how he found and left the folks in England if my Husband was well, if he had got letters for me &c &c to which he smiled and answered as if he knew all about them.”  Mary and Jane Richards had a wonderful visit with Elder Littlefield during the evening.  “We had a very pleasent visit with him and told him a great many things to tell our Husbands which he said he would remember to do.”  Elder Littlefield blessed both sisters and then stood up to leave.  “Jane proposed that we each send a Kiss by him to our Husbands which he seemed pleased to convey and asked permission to take one for himself which we permitted him to do.”

A son, Thomas Eldridge Fuller, was born to Thomas E. and Sarah McArthur Fuller.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

McGee Harris returned from Winter Quarters and reported that he was not able to have any wheat ground because the mill was being repaired.  This meant that most of those in Summer Quarters would have to go without bread for a while.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

The battalion paraded for General Kearny and was inspected by Colonel Stevenson.  Nathaniel Jones wrote that General Kearny “made a great many remarks concerning us, and spoke of us in the highest terms, so much so that I thought it was flattery.  He promised to represent our conduct to the President and in the halls of congress, and give us the justice that we merited.  He promised us some clothing and advised us to reenlist into the service for twelve months, and many other things.”  Three men from each company were ordered to be part of a detail to escort General Kearny.23


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

Henry Bigler and others took a job to cut wood for burning bricks six miles out in the country.  They were paid two dollars per cord.  The ship Congress returned to San Diego.



Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 391‑92; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:172‑73; Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 36‑7; William Clayton’s Journal, 141‑42; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 151‑52; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 164; Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, 1: 254‑55; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 124; “Journal Extracts of Henry W. Bigler,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 5:61; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:17; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:93


                         Tuesday, May 11, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning was chilly, thirty‑eight degrees, but it warmed up quickly.  Thomas Bullock recorded:  “While attending cattle some of the brethren dug out a den of Wolves.  There were 4 fine cubs in it which were brought out alive, but afterwards killed, to make caps.”  William Clayton added, “They are probably six or eight weeks old and about the size of an English hare, very vicious.”  Brother Bullock continued:  “Dr. Richards found a Buffalo horn filled with a Hornet’s nest and brought it to camp.  He afterwards rode to the Island with an axe, cut off a patch of bark on a large tree & wrote an inscription for the benefit of the Saints who follow after.”

The members of the camp had their disagreements at times.  Zebedee Coltrin and Sylvester H. Earl separated from each other.24  William Empey commented that Brother Coltrin seemed to be involved in almost all of the arguments in the camp.

The pioneers started their journey at 9:30 a.m.  Brigham Young, and others traveled ahead of the main company.  In five miles, after crossing over some bluffs, they stopped for the noon rest.  Very few buffalo were spotted during the day as they had all migrated to the east for better grass.

After another three miles, the pioneers crossed over a creek of clear water that was about fifteen feet wide.  They observed a number of dead buffalo in the water.  The night’s camp was established a half mile away, where the feed was good.  A well was dug four feet deep to obtain plenty of good water.

The camp was near the junction of the north and south forks of the Platte River.  Some of the men were feeling ill.  Wilford Woodruff attributed his illness to not yet being accustomed to eating fresh meat.

Orson Pratt wrote of a grizzly object that Amasa M. Lyman found:  “A human skull was found about two miles east, the teeth were perfectly sound and well set in the jaw.  This skull probably was the head of some Indian warrior, who might have fallen in one of the late battles between the Pawnees and Sioux, in which the latter were victorious.  From some small scars upon the bone, it had the appearance of having been scalped.”  Porter Rockwell exhibited this skull throughout the camp.

William Clayton wrote:  “Brother Appleton Harmon is working at the machinery for the wagon to tell the distance we travel and expects to have it in operation tomorrow, which will save me the trouble of counting, as I have done, during the last four days.”

Willard Richards pealed off some bark of a large cottonwood tree, and wrote on it a message for the second pioneers company to read.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

When Hosea Stout woke up, he found Captain Caw and three other Otoe chiefs standing in his yard, waiting for him to wake up.  They were invited in and requested two more beef cattle from the Saints.  Brother Stout sent the request on to Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor who approved it.  Brother Stout had a nice breakfast with the Indians.

Lyman O. Littlefield left Winter Quarters on his mission to England.  Alexander McRae let him travel in his buggy as far as Savannah, Missouri.  From there he would ride with Daniel Spencer to St. Joseph and then travel with some Saints to Weston, Missouri, where he would catch a steamer for St. Louis.

Adney A. C. Anderson, age five months, died of inflammation of the bowels.  He was the son of Buckley B. and Sally M. Anderson.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

Albert Dunham, age eighteen, of the Battalion, died at San Diego, from an ulcer on the brain.  He had only been sick two or three days.  He was buried beside Lydia Hunter.



Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 37; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:173; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 392‑93; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 152‑53; “Lyman Littlefield Reminiscences (1888),” 190; William Clayton’s Journal, 142; Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, 1:255; “Journal of William A. Empey,” Annals of Wyoming, 21:125; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” typescript, BYU, 30


                      Wednesday, May 12, 1847

On the Platte River, Nebraska:

The pioneers arose to clear skies and a temperature of forty‑one degrees.  Appleton M. Harmon completed the roadometer and attached it to a wagon in the morning.  William Clayton wrote:  “I shall only have to count the number of miles, instead of the revolution of the wagon wheel.”  It worked well and showed that the company traveled eight miles during the morning.  The wind kicked up dust which was bothersome to the travelers.

They saw signs that Indians had been in the area recently and concluded that this was the reason why buffalo had been so scarce for the past two days.  Erastus Snow recorded:


We passed today the corpses of about one hundred buffaloes, lately slaughtered by them [the Indians].  They have taken only the hides, tongues, marrow‑bones, and here and there a choice piece of meat, leaving the buffalo for the wolves, which are by no means scarce or backward in waiting upon themselves.  Most of the buffaloes that we have seen on this route seem to be poor, and we find many carcasses of those that have died this spring; and in several instances we have found them so feeble that our boys, who love the sport, have caught them by the tail and horns and handled them as they would any domestic animal.


They found thirty to forty calves that were crushed to death on the bank of the river where a herd had crossed in great haste to flee from their hunters.

In the afternoon, they traveled four more miles and stopped at a clear stream, fifteen feet wide.  In the stream they found a number of small fish which several of the men caught with hooks.  In the distance ahead, they could see the bluffs that rise up on the land between the north and south forks of the Platte River.  William Clayton commented:  “Our course this afternoon a little south of west, having come around a considerable bend in the river.”25

Wilford Woodruff wrote of his discoveries:  “I found on the Bluff their [the Indians] medicine bag tied to a stick 6 feet long stuck up in the bank.  It was what is called kinikinnick composed of tobacco & bark to smoke.  I also found a saddle tied to a large buffalo dung I supposed to show the next party which way the Buffalo had gone.”  While Elder Woodruff was chasing after his horse, he came upon a deserted Sioux encampment which had been recently used during the buffalo hunt.  He judged that there had been about 400 lodges.  “There was Acres of ground covered with Buffalo wool where they had dressed their skins.  They left much stuff scattered over the ground such as peaces of dressed Buffalo & wolf skins, moccasins &c.”


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Orson Hyde arrived home from his mission to England.  He had sailed from England on February 23.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

The settlement was very busy plowing and planting.  Samuel Gully returned from Winter Quarters and reported that the mill was again in operation.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

One hundred twenty New York volunteers came in from Monterey.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

News had arrived of the battle with the Indians experienced by some of the battalion from Los Angeles (See May 9, 1847).  They learned that six of the Indians had been killed and that three members of the battalion were wounded.



Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 393‑94; Watson ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 554; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:159; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1022; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:173‑74; William Clayton’s Journal, 143; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:93; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 222; “Norton Jacob Journal,” typescript, 68; Lyndia Carter, “Wright Sets Wrongs Right: The True Story of the 1847 Mormon Odometer,” Crossroads, 6:2:9


                        Thursday, May 13, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

Wilford Woodruff dreamed a prophetic dream during the night.


I dreamed last night we had arrived at our journeys end where we were to build up a stake of Zion.  As we came onto the place there was an open vision of a temple presented before me.  I asked some brethren that stood by me if they saw it.  They said it appeared as though it was built of white & blue stone.  The sight of it filled me with joy and I awoke & behold it was a dream.26


Howard Egan was up early on this cold morning.  He and many others went to see the abandoned Indian village.  “There appeared to be two or three hundred wickiups and, from the appearance of things, I supposed that they had not been gone long from there.”  The men brought back moccasins, parts of robes, leather, and other items.

A dispute had to be settled.  During the night, Thomas Tanner had taken Aaron Farr prisoner and put him under guard because he was talking loud after the night horn blew for prayers.27  The dispute was brought before Brigham Young.  The charges against Brother Farr were dismissed because it did not appear that he was malicious in his actions.

At 9 a.m., the pioneers rolled out of camp.  They stopped at 11 a.m. to feed the teams.  At 12:30, they were on the move again.  After almost eleven miles, they made camp on the west side of a large stream that was two feet deep, which Brigham Young named Junction Bluff Fork.  The sand was soft and they had to cross it very quickly in order not to sink.  The grass for the animals was the best that it had been since they left Winter Quarters.  It was very cold.  Erastus Snow recorded, “We had a sudden change in weather, and we are now scarcely comfortable around the fires with top coats.”  They huddled around a roaring fire made from buffalo chips.

Wilford Woodruff wrote:


There is one thing concerning the Platte River which is worthy of note, which is not characteristic of any other river that I have knowledge of in the world.  It is much of the way a mile in width & generally covered with water but very shallow.  When a south wind blows hard the water all rushes to the north shore until one would suppose there was a great rise of water.  Let the wind shift & blow hard from the North & the water immediately leaves the north shore until one can walk across two thirds of the river on bare ground & the river constantly ebs & flows like the tide just according as the wind blows.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

General Stephen F. Kearny left Los Angeles for Fort Leavenworth, accompanied by about fifteen members of the Battalion.  The general and four of the men went by water and the rest by land to Monterey.  Lt. Samuel Thompson returned from the mountains where his party battled with Indians.  Lt. James Pace was ordered to take twenty‑six men to the Mountains, to protect the Mexicans from the Indians.



Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 37‑8; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:175; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1022; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:158; William Clayton’s Journal, 145; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 222


                           Friday, May 14, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

In the morning, the temperature was forty‑one degrees.  The sky was filled with clouds and some rumbles of thunder could be heard in the distance.  At 8 a.m., a heavy shower fell.  Just before the rains came, the bugle sounded to gather up the horses, and the men ran for cover in the wagons.

At 10:15 a.m., the pioneers moved out.  They had to divert away from the North Platte to work their way over and around some bluffs.  Orson Pratt wrote:


I ascended some of the highest of these hills, where a beautiful and extended prospect opened on every side. . . . On the west, the roily yellow waters of the north fork were making their way over and between innumerable beds of quicksand, while the rich, level, green, grassy bottoms upon each side, formed a beautiful contrast, extending for miles in length.  Here and there small herds of buffalo were grazing upon the hills and in the valleys, and all seemed to conspire to render the scenery interesting and delightful.


William Clayton wrote:  “Some of the brethren have discovered fresh tracks where the Indians have gone up this north stream, evidently very lately.  But we are satisfied the Lord hears the prayers of his servants and sends them out of the way before we come up to them.”

After nine miles, they camped for the night.  They were only three miles further up the river than the night before.  William Clayton recorded his impressions of the sandhills:  “The feed for our teams grows much better, and on one of these high sandy bluffs I saw a large bed of flowers, not unlike the violet, and very rich.  The sand on the bluffs in some places looks like large drifts of snow, and in other places seems to have deep chasms as if wasted by heavy rains.”

Hunters had been sent out during the day and they killed two antelope and one buffalo.  Revenue Cutler (the boat wagon) was sent back to collect the meat.  During the evening, the sounds of music could be heard in different parts of the camp.

Some men felt that Appleton Harmon started to take too much credit for the roadometer that he had constructed under the direction of William Clayton.  Brother Clayton had a hard time dealing with this.  “I discovered that Brother Appleton Harmon is trying to have it understood that he invented the machinery to tell the distance we travel, which makes me think less of him than I formerly did.  He is not the inventor of it by a long way, but he has made the machinery, after being told how to do it.  What little souls work.”

During the evening, many of the men danced to the sounds of the violin.

Indians were detected spying on the camp.  During the night, Rodney Badger found an Indian creeping toward the camp on his hands and feet.  Brother Badger fired his gun and the Indian immediately ran off.  All the horses were brought into the circle of wagons and the cannon was prepared for use.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Mary Ann Littleton, age fourteen, died.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

In the afternoon a number of families arrived from Mount Pisgah including Allen Weeks, George W. Hickerson, James Woolsey, and Levi North.  In the evening, a celebration was held for these families at John D. Lee’s home.  They had music and dancing.  At the end of the evening, John D. Lee offered a prayer.  Also in the evening, McGee Harris returned from Winter Quarters with only a little meal.  The mill was very crowded and it was almost impossible to grind any grain.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

James Pace and his company returned from their expedition to the mountains without finding any Indian problems.  James Pace wrote, “All the Battalion seemed glad that my Indian hunt passed off as well as it did without shedding their blood.”  The rest of General Kearny’s group left during the day, including General Kearny and Colonel Cooke.


Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 395‑96; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:176; Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 38‑9; William Clayton’s Journal, 146‑47; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 165; Yurtinus, Ram in the Thicket, 574; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 222; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” 34


                         Saturday, May 15, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning was cloudy and cold.  Howard Egan wrote that it “feels like a morning in January.”  Levi Jackman added:  “Overcoats, robes, blankets and mittens all in order today.”  The brethren who were sent back to get the killed buffalo did not arrive back into camp until 7:30 a.m.  They had lost their way in the dark.  At 8 a.m. rain fell again but cleared as the camp started out at 9 a.m.

After less than a mile, the pioneers began ascending some sandy bluffs.  It started raining again, making it very hard to make progress.  A zigzag road was created up over the bluffs.  Many barefoot tracks were seen which were believed to belong to Indians trying to steal the pioneers’ horses.  William Clayton wrote:  “It is plain that whole families are amongst their number as the foot prints and moccasins of children have several times been seen.  They evidently make use of the buffalo dung for fuel, and for seats, they dig up sods and lay them in a circle around their fire which is in the center.  We have passed a number of these little temporary camping spots this afternoon.”

They descended back to the bottoms and soon decided to turn their teams out at 10:30 a.m. to feed because the rain was making traveling so difficult.  Orson Pratt explained:  “While our teams are grazing, about fourteen men usually encircle them on all sides, to prevent them from straying or being suddenly frightened away in case of any sudden incursion of Indians.”

The weather cleared by noon and in a half hour the pioneers continued their westward journey.  They halted at 2:45 to make their camp.  The feed was good but the wood was scarce.  The buffalo chips were not very usable because of the rain.  The Revenue Cutter was sent out to bring back a load of wood.  Hunters were also sent out and one killed a fat buffalo which was brought into camp.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Mary Richards recorded:  “A fine day.  In the AM was scouring and cleaning the tin ware chests Boxes &c &c gave the house a good cleaning.  PM was ironing felt very heavy and dull.  Sister Matson one of our neighbors came in and eat a while with us.  In the evening I cut out some blocks of Calico for a bed quilt.”

A daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Robison, was born to William H. and Elizabeth Squires Robison.  A daughter, Elizabeth Scott, was born to John and Elizabeth Menerey Scott.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

A large bell was hung up to be rung every night at 8 p.m.  At that time a patrol would be sent out to disperse gatherings and prevent disturbances.  In the evening, a Mexican child was buried.  Azariah Smith wrote: “The corpse was carried on a table, adorned in the most splendid manner which was carried by women, and an Indian with the coffin followed in the crowd, two fiddlers going in front of the Priest kept fiddling.  Two men in the rear with rifles kept firing over their heads.”



Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 39; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:177; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:158; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 397; “Levi Jackman Autobiography,” typescript, BYU, 31; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 125; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:17; Bigler, The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith, 83


                          Sunday, May 16, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

Some frost fell overnight as it continued to be quite chilly.  Since it was Sunday, the pioneers rested.  They baked for the coming week, washed, and made other preparations.  Some of the men caught fourteen gray rabbits which Joseph Schofield penned up to take with him on the road.28

Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, Ezra T. Benson, Albert P. Rockwell, and Roswell Stevens rode four miles over the bluffs ahead to pick out a route for the following day.  They found a good road that passed through a valley between some bluffs.

William Clayton wrote:


About noon today Brother Appleton Harmon completed the machinery on the wagon called a ‘roadometer’ by adding a wheel to revolve once in ten miles, showing each mile and also each quarter‑mile we travel, and then casing the whole over so as to secure it from the weather. . . . I have prepared another board to put up here on which the distance from Winter Quarters is marked at 356 3/4 miles.


In the afternoon a meeting was held.  The boat wagon was used for a stand.  Speakers included:  Willard Richards, Stephen Markham, Albert Rockwell, and Heber C. Kimball.  Brigham Young was away.

Willard Richards remarked that he thought that ministers in the name of the Lord should serve with a pure heart and clean hands.  He said that he had not had time to wash his hands this day, but as for the pure heart, he would let others judge whether he had one.  He spoke about his labors as Church Historian.  In Nauvoo he had been so busy as historian that he rarely had a chance to attend the Sabbath meetings unless the prophet was preaching.  With much labor he had worked on the history of the Church but it was still about five years behind.

Stephen Markham spoke about the necessity to be obedient to counsel for the leaders.  Albert P. Rockwood said that the key to exaltation was found in “being ready to go when called and then stop when the errand is performed and not do more than sent to do.”

President Kimball said that he had never traveled in a company that behaved themselves as well as these pioneers.  They were “like clay in the hands of the potter; they could be made into any thing that the Potter wanted to make of them.”  He further stated:  “The angels were about the camp, and when a faithful servant of God, who was diligent in obeying the instructions of the President, was in danger, swift messengers would be sent by the Lord, saying, ‘go and ward off the destroyer from that servant and let him live for he will do my cause good.’” He said that he had prayed that the Indians would turn to the right and to the left, that they might pursue their journey in peace.  He cautioned the brethren against the use of profane language and said that the angel of the Lord would turn away from a man that would swear and take the name of the Lord in vain.  He prophesied that no one in the company would die on this journey as long as the brethren obeyed the commandments and kept their covenants.  This was a binding promise because the Lord’s servants had promised it in His name.

He testified the Lord would open a way “for the Saints to have a resting place, where kings and queens and all the rich would come to hear the word of the Lord and we as pioneers would be looked upon as angels of God.”

The laws and regulations of the camp were read.  Lorenzo Dow Young wrote:  “All seemed to feel well in spirit and we’re united in feeling the same interest to go ahead.  The Lord is with us.”  Wilford Woodruff added:  “The channel of the teaching was to hearken to council & sustain the Heads of the Church & go do what was said unto us & it would prove a blessing unto us.”

During the meeting, there was quite a distraction.  Norton Jacob explained:


Bro. [Eric] Glines having went out to drive some buffalo away from the cattle commenced firing at a large bull.29  The first [ball] passed along side his heart which made him run off some sixty or eighty rods.  Glines followed up and fired three shots through his lights and then he turned upon his pursuer and ran some little distance then turned and ran forty or fifty rods farther and fell dead.  This was all within a mile and in full view of the whole camp.  While the meeting proceeded on, the hunters were dressing the beef which proved to be very good and fat.  After meeting, “the [Revenue] cutter” which has served for our pulpit, was dispatched to bring in the meat.


Wilford Woodruff did not approve of this hunting on the Sabbath which was against the rules of the camp.

William Clayton recorded:  “After supper Elder [Edson] Whipple made me a present of a half a candle made from buffalo tallow, by the light of which I continue this journal.30  Although, as may be expected, the buffalo are generally poorer at this season of the year, yet Brother Whipple has obtained sufficient to make two candles from his portion of meat received yesterday morning.  The candle burns very clear and pleasant.  The tallow smells sweet and rich.  I imagine it has a more pleasant smell than the tallow of domestic cattle.”


Council Bluffs, Iowa:

A daughter, Mary Ruth Riggs, was born to John and Jane Bullock Riggs.31


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

Robert S. Bliss wrote, “To day went down to the coast & when I returned I found a letter from my companion; which had came over the mountains to me by the express; It gave me great joy to hear from them once more; it being the first time I have heard from them for 10 months.”  Word was also received that General Kearny and Colonel Cooke were leaving for Washington, D.C.  Thomas Dunn missed a meeting for the guards during the morning.  He had not been informed about the new time.  He was displeased at his treatment by the officers and wrote:  “There has been many such things happened in the character of our officers, which is degrading to their profession and to the Council of the Twelve, for to them we looked for better things.  I have not penned anything against them before, because I have hoped and looked for better conduct and example, but have looked in vain.”


Mormon Battalion detachment of General Kearny:

The detachment of battalion men marching to Monterey arrived at Santa Barbara.



Autobiography of John Brown, 74; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 40; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:177; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 156; “Private Journal of Thomas Dunn,” typescript, 25; “Journal of William A. Empey,” Annals of Wyoming, 21:125; “Norton Jacob Journal,” typescript, 70-2; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” typescript, BYU, 37


                         Monday, May 17, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning was cold, thirty‑eight degrees, with a chilly wind.  Willard Richards left another letter at the camp for the companies that follow.  It was put in a box attached to a pole.  It included extracts from the camp journal kept by Thomas Bullock.  The letter box was directed to “C.C. Rich & Company” and on the other side was inscribed:  “North Fork Letter Box.”

Soon after they started for the day, the pioneers arrived at some bluffs which extended all the way down to the river.  They crossed a stream and started to ascend the sandy bluffs.  William Clayton wrote:


On these sandy bluffs, there are very many small lizards about four or five inches long from nose to the end of the tail, which is an inch and a half long.  The body looks short and chunky and is of a light grey color with two rows of dark brown spots on each side of the body which make it appear striped.  The head is shaped something like the head of a snake.  They appear perfectly harmless and are pretty in appearance.


They crossed over the bluffs without difficulty and found very good grass on the west side.  The bottoms were marshy which made it “soft wheeling among the sloughs.”  Albert P. Rockwood wrote:  “We came out on the bottom which extended as far as the eye could reach but not one stick of timber in sight.”

At 11:45 a.m., the pioneers stopped to feed the animals after traveling almost seven miles.  Howard Egan and Phinehas Young traveled back to get some water at the headwaters of a stream.  They found “five boiling springs, boiling up several inches.”  One of Phinehas Young’s horses became mired in a swamp and had to be hauled out with ropes by several of the men.

At 1:40 p.m., the journey continued on this warm afternoon.  They soon came to a stream about thirty feet wide, but very shallow.  They crossed without difficulty, came to some hills, and crossed more steams.  At 3:40 p.m., the wagons halted as word came that the hunters had killed a buffalo and two men were sent back to get it.  About the same time Revenue Cutter arrived with two buffalo and an antelope.  Brigham Young was not pleased that the camp was detained because he felt that they already had enough meat.

The wagons continued their journey until 6 p.m.  The day’s journey covered nearly thirteen miles.  The camp was established about a half mile from the river.  As usual, wells of about four feet deep were dug to obtain water close to the camp.

Wilford Woodruff wrote:  “We saw very large droves of deer to day in the bottom the most we have ever seen any day on the road.  A young fawn was picked up & brought into camp & kept.”  The fawn was caught by Roswell Stevens.  Lorenzo Young hoped to raise it.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Almira Whittemore Pond, age thirty-four, died of consumption.  She was the wife of Stillman Pond.  The Ponds had most of their large family die from illness since they left Nauvoo.  Now Sister Pond, who had been sick for quite a while, was also buried in the Winter Quarters Cemetery.  Henry G. Van Velser, age six, died of scurvy.  He was the son of Stephen and Fannie Van Velser.



Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 42; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:178; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1023; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 157; William Clayton’s Journal, 153‑56; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” typescript, BYU, 36


                         Tuesday, May 18, 1847


On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

Brigham Young called the camp together at 7:30 a.m. for instructions.  He stated that he did not want to see any more buffalo killed, nor anything larger than a duck.  He spoke out against those who were leaving meat on the ground because it was not the choicest portion.  He had heard some grumbling from those who were “sticking up their nose” because they did not want the forequarter of the meat.  “For God has given us a commandment that we should not waste meat, nor take life unless it is needful.”  He said, “Save your powder and lead and let the game alone.”  He also stated that life was as dear to the animal, according to their understanding, as it was to us.  “The Spirit of the hunter as was now manifested would lead them to kill all the game within a thousand miles as inconsistently as the butcher would apply the knife to the throat of a bullock.”  He reproved the horsemen for taking so little interest in looking for roads.  He also chastised the officers for not enforcing the camp rules.

When the pioneers started out, the hunters and horseman went forward to pick out the road instead of going hunting.  Wilford Woodruff commented, “I did not hear a gun fired on the road during the day.”  During the morning journey, the pioneers crossed a rapid stream, about twenty feet wide, which they called Rattlesnake Creek.  William Clayton recorded:


Rattlesnake creek was so named from the following incident: President Young, as he rode up to the banks of the creek discovered that his horse stepped within a foot of a very large rattlesnake.  He turned his horse away without harming it.  Soon afterward, one of the brethren [Thomas Woolsey] came up on foot and stepped within two feet and a half of it.  It immediately coiled up and sprang at him and would have struck him (as it sprang 2 1/2 feet) had he not jumped to one side.  He took his rifle and shot the snake dead.32


They passed Cedar Bluffs, which are on the south side of the Platte.  Orson Pratt observed:  “These bluffs make up to the river, and are thinly covered with small cedars.  In the bluffs on the south side of the river, for a few miles, appear to be some rock formations.”  This was the first time they saw ledges or rocks in the bluffs.

During the afternoon, thundershowers passed around the company in various directions.  They traveled about sixteen miles and formed the encampment on the west bank of a stream about eight feet wide and one foot deep.  Stephen Markham called the camp together to remind them of their duty in regard to traveling and caring for their teams.  He spoke out against “the selfish principle of a man bringing up his own cattle & leaving his brother’s horse or ox, for fear of walking ten rods, to save his brother one, two, or three miles journey after it.”

At about 10 p.m., Howard Egan got up in the rain to put a harness under the wagons to avoid water damage.  He wrote:  “I discovered Brother Jackson [Redden] who was the captain of the guard, going around with some of his men picking up the harness and other things and putting them under cover.  Captain [Redden] is a faithful, praiseworthy man, and a man who works for the good of the camp.”33


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Hosea Stout was having difficulties raising the city guard.  Many did not want to serve unless they could be assured that they would be paid as promised.  Brother Stout tried to get the attention of those in authority to help them understand his frustrations, but they did not take any action.  Finally he decided to just dismiss the guard, asking them to be ready for an emergency.  Brother Stout decided to go hunting.  As he was traveling, he passed by John Taylor. Elder Taylor asked him about the guard.  Brother Stout explained the problem to him and Elder Taylor stated that he wanted the guard assembled and went to help Brother Stout.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

Isaac Morley, who had authority over the Summer Quarters settlement came up from Winter Quarters to inspect the progress of the farm.  He was very pleased and stated that more land had been broken and corn planted at Summer Quarters than all the region around Winter Quarters.  In the evening a party was held at John D. Lee’s house with dancing and music.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

A wedding was held in town for a sea captain and a Mexican lady.  Robert S. Bliss wrote:  “They celebrated it with the firing of Guns we gave them a gun from the Fort while our officer was gone to Town; the Wedding ended with a Fandango at night.  It probably cost Mr. Barker $500 considering all expenses (one cannon burst).”



Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 399; “Luke S. Johnson Journal,” typescript, BYU, 8; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1023; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:178; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 43‑4; William Clayton’s Journal, 156‑60; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 158‑59; Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, 1:256; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 166; The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah; Historical Quarterly, 4:93; “Norton Jacob Journal,” typescript, 72


                      Wednesday, May 19, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

It rained overnight and the morning was gloomy and cloudy.  The pioneers moved out in a disorganized fashion before breakfast because the feed was poor near the encampment.  After two miles, they crossed two small streams and soon halted for breakfast at 6:20 a.m.  Heber C. Kimball and Thomas Woolsey traveled ahead to find a place where the feed was good.  Brother Woolsey was sent back to report that the feed was not good near the bluffs.  Elder Kimball continued on to find a road through the bluffs.  He traveled ten miles and saw a number of very large wolves.  Howard Egan recorded:  “He tried to scare them, but they would not move out of their tracks, and he had no firearms with him.  If he had been afoot, I presume they would have attacked him.  Brother Kimball has rode so much ahead to look out the way for the camp he has almost broke himself down and is pretty near sick, but his ambition and the care he has for the camp keeps him up.”  Elder Kimball later described one of the wolves as large as “a two-year-old steer.”

At 8:40 a.m., the pioneers started again.  After three miles of traveling in the rain, they began to ascend the bluffs which were high, steep and sandy.  They traveled a winding course through the bluffs and crossed another stream about twenty feet wide, which they named Wolf Creek in honor of Elder Kimball’s wolf experience earlier in the day.

Wilford Woodruff penned:  “We crossed the worst sand hill bluff of about one mile that we have crossed on the journey & what made it still worse the rain was pouring down upon us continually.”  The wheels of the wagons rolled in the sand nearly to the hub.

At 10:30, they halted for the midday rest, to wait out the rain and continued their journey at 2:55 p.m.  Soon, heavy rain again started to fall.  They only traveled two more miles, making eight total, and camped for the night on the banks of the river.34

William Clayton wrote:  “The rain still continues to pour down heavily and this has been the most uncomfortable day we have had and the hardest on our teams.  The brethren, however, feel well and cheerful.”  Levi Jackman commented about the barren land:  “The sight of a tree is out of the question.  It is seldom that we can see so much as a bush.”  Wilford Woodruff summed up this wet day:  “We had the most water fall during the day and evening that we have met with on the whole journey.”

After dark, Willard Richards read “A Game of Chess with Bonapart” to Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Amasa Lyman, Wilford Woodruff, and Ezra T. Benson in Willard Richards’ wagon.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

On this pleasant morning in Winter Quarters, Mary Richards put out the tent and quilts dry which she had soaked over night.  She then cleaned the house, stewed some apples, and then made a pie.  She received a nice visit from a number of sisters.

A daughter, Margaret Grant, was born to Jedediah M. and Caroline Van Dyke Grant.  Isaac Davis, age sixty-four, died of bilious fever.  He was the husband of Edith Richards Davis.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

At 7 a.m., Isaac Morley had all the brethren gather at John D. Lee’s house.  President Morley said that he was pleased with the progress of Summer Quarters but was disappointed to hear that there were some bad feelings in the camp held by a small minority.  “Such things remaining among us is calculated to destroy the peace and happiness of the whole camp.  It is wrong, brethren.  Be united.”  He exhorted the brethren to hearken to Brother Lee’s counsel.  At this point, Joseph Busby, one of the men who had disagreements with Brother Lee, spoke up.  He stated since he had been one of those condemned as not being first-rate, “I want the boil opened that we may see the extent” of the problem.  Samuel Gully said that he would prick the boil.  He rose up and spoke out against those who were rebelling against the division-of-land policy.  He defended Brother Lee.  He stated that these five rebellious men were not working together for the good of the settlement.  Simeon A. Dunn arose in a rage.  President Morley instructed him to calm down.  Brother Dunn then tried to justify the actions of the five men, including himself.  John D. Lee spoke up and corrected several of his statements.  Joseph Busby arose with what Brother Lee described as “personating speeches and threats.”  Isaac Morley rebuked his actions and told him his spirit was not of God.  He exhorted him to have humility and union.  President Morley stated that “it was an easy matter to preside over men that was disposed to do right but arbitrary persons always caused trouble.”  He asked for a sustaining vote that all would strive to do right.  The meeting finally closed at 8 p.m.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

A detachment of fifteen men was sent to Warner’s Ranch to help put down an uprising of Indians in the area.



William Clayton’s Journal, 160‑63; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 44; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:179; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1099; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 160; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 167‑69; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:93


                        Thursday, May 20, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

At 5 a.m., the temperature was forty‑five degrees.  After the pioneers broke their camp, within one mile, they had to cross a deep eight-foot-wide stream.  The roadometer broke down, as one of the teeth on a cog broke because of the recent rains.  William Clayton and Appleton Harmon worked at repairing it while the other wagons passed by.  Brother Clayton wrote:  “We stopped about a half an hour and Appleton Harmon took it to pieces and put it up again without the small wheel.  I had to count each mile after this.”

They traveled about eight miles in the morning and then halted for the noon rest.  Orson Pratt wrote:  “A short distance below our noon halt, we passed a lonely cedar tree, upon the north bank of the river, in the branches of which were deposited the remains of an Indian child, with which were also deposited the necessary equipments (according to Indian traditions) to a future land of enjoyment.”  Lorenzo Dow Young added this account:  “Found a large Ceder tree, which was the first tree we had found in traveling more than one hundred miles.  They found an Indian coffin in the top of it.  By examining it they found the bones of a child wrapped in skins to secure it from the birds of prey, and with the bones a spoon made of horn and a ball.”  William Empey also commented on the cedar tree:  “We have traveled about 90 miles without seeing on the north side of the Platte a tree large enough for a hand spike till today we passed a red cedar about 3 feet across the stump.”

When they halted for the noon rest, John Brown thought that they might be across the river from a place called Ash Hollow, where the Oregon Trail joins the North Platte.  They wanted to be sure, so they could test Fremont’s map on the way to Fort Laramie.  The leather boat was launched and Orson Pratt, Amasa Lyman, Luke Johnson, and John Brown crossed over the river.  William Clayton recorded:  “The current was so exceedingly strong the oars had no effect.  John Brown then jumped into the river which was about two and a half feet deep and dragged the boat over, the others assisting with the oars.  After some hard labor they arrived on the opposite shore and went to the hollow.  They soon found the Oregon trail and ascertained that it was Ash Hollow.  They gathered some branches of wild cherry in full bloom, “rambled over the place a little while and then returned to camp.”  While across the river, Brother Brown found the grave of an Oregon emigrant buried the previous summer.  Brother Brown had helped to dig the grave.  The emigrant had been killed by an Indian who then stole his horse.  According to Fremont’s map, they were 140 miles from Fort Laramie.

The pioneers continued their journey at 2 p.m., crossed a wide stream which they called Castle Bluff River, and continued on until 5:30.  There was a light rain shower during the afternoon.  They camped in a circle about a quarter mile from the river.  Many of the men went to the beach to gather driftwood for fuel.

Wilford Woodruff wrote of the scenery during the day:  “We have passed a good deal of rock bluff on both sides of the river, & some on the south side of the river was formed into natural terraces, rotundas, squares &c, 50 or 100 feet high.  Looked like good foundations to build forts & fortifications & strong holds upon.  They resemble the work of art & look like the old castles of England & Scotland.  They were level on the top.”


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Mary Richards learned that Joseph A. Stratton was going to preach at the funeral of Isaac Davis, so she got ready and went to the service with Sarah Rich.  Just as they sat down, Jane Richards called Mary Richards out of the house where the service was being held.  Jane, her sister‑in‑law, gave her a letter from Mary’s husband, Samuel W. Richards, that Orson Hyde had brought from England.  Elder Hyde had mentioned to Jane that Samuel had been very sick with small pox when Elder Hyde left England.  His brother Franklin had been sent to care for him.  When Orson Hyde was in New York, he received a letter from Franklin Richards stating that Samuel was getting better.  This news distressed Mary because her husband never mentioned any serious illness in his letters to her.  “To hear that he was sick made me feel very very sorrowfull.  I wished oh! how much I wished that I could fly to his assistance, to watch by his bed and comfort him in the hour of his affliction.  Oh My Father in Heaven do thou look down upon him I but Intreat thee.”  After reading the letter from her husband, she returned to the funeral service and heard Elder Stratton give an interesting sermon.

Walter Brown Mumford, age eleven, died.  A daughter, Emily Jane Brown, was born to Isaac H. and Hannah Davis Brown.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

Several men went on a fishing expedition.  They included Brother Burgess, Allen Stout, J. Anderson, J. Woolsey, Joseph Busby and Samuel Gully.  They had “moderate” success.  David Young found signs that a Sioux Indian had stolen one of John D. Lee’s horses.



Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 400‑01; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 20; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:158‑59; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:179‑80; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 44‑5; William Clayton’s Journal, 163‑66; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 141‑42; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 169; “Journal of William A. Empey,” Annals of Wyoming, 21:125


                           Friday, May 21, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

William Clayton put up a guide board for the next company that read:  “From Winter Quarters, 409 miles; from the junction of the North and South forks of the Platte, 93 1/4 miles; Cedar Bluffs on east side of river and Ash Hollow 8 miles; Camp of Pioneers, May 21st 1847, According to Fremont, this place is 132 from Laramie.  N.B.  ‑‑ The bluffs on the opposite side are named Castle Bluffs.”

The pioneers moved out of camp at 7:35 a.m. and traveled over a very wet prairie with many ponds of water.  Erastus Snow wrote:  “Today has seemed more like spring than any day since we left Winter Quarters ‑‑ not only warm and pleasant, but on every hand have we been greeted for the first time with the music of the quadrupeds [frogs] from the numerous little ponds along the bottoms.”  Albert P. Rockwood added:  “The eye is teared of the one continued desolate view of the Earth as it stretched itself on our right as we are passing up this wide, cold, sandy river.” After traveling seven and a half miles, the company stopped at 11:15 a.m. for dinner.

Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball rode ahead to pick out the next road.  They came across a nest of wolves and killed two of them.  Heber C. Kimball caught a live wolf by the tail.

At 1:30, the company continued their journey over the wet prairie with high old grass.  Very few buffalo were seen during the day.  Wilford Woodruff killed a badger with the jaw bone of a buffalo.

Willard Richards found a large petrified bone.  Thomas Grover reported that it was a shoulder bone and must have belonged to an animal bigger than an elephant.35  Orson Pratt believed it belonged to a mammoth and that it was a lower leg bone.  It was 17 1/2 inches long, 11 inches at the greatest width, and at most 6 inches thick.  It weighed 27 pounds.  He wrote:  “It is a curious specimen of ancient zoology, and if circumstances would permit, worthy of preservation.”

William Clayton recorded:  “As I was walking along and looking over the river, I heard a rattlesnake, and looking down saw that I had stepped within a foot of it.  It rattled hard but seemed to make away.  We threw it away from the track without killing it.”

After a total of fifteen and a half miles, they stopped to camp for the night.  Soon a Sioux Indian and his wife came from the bluffs, riding toward the camp, making signs for men to follow them to a party of Indians on the bluff.  President Young would not allow them to come into the camp.  Howard Egan wrote:  “The Indian was well dressed.  Their horses appear to be work horses, which I presume they had stolen from some travelers.”  After a half hour, they left.

William Clayton described their surroundings:  “We can see some timber on the bluffs on the other side of the river some miles ahead which is the first timber we have seen for more than a week, except some small cedar and the timber in Ash Hollow, all on the south side the river.  We are nearly a mile from water and the brethren have to dig wells to obtain a supply for cooking.”  Thomas Bullock reported hearing:  “After sunset a full frog symphony, full of music and variety.”  The brethren set the prairie on fire to burn off the old grass for the companies that would follow.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Mary Richards went to the Winter Quarters store in the afternoon and bought some calico for aprons, cotton cloth to line her dresses, and some candle weaking thread.  She then went to visit the Abotts and met for the first time Martha Monks Pratt, Parley P. Pratt’s new wife who had recently arrived from England.  Sister Richards then went to the Pratts and had a nice visit with all of the ladies there.  Martha told Sister Richards that she loved her because she came from England too.

Abney Spicer, age twenty-three, died of chills and fever.  She was the wife of John Spicer.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

The fisherman tried to fish at a new place on the river but did not have any success so they went back to the old place in the afternoon.  John Holman arrived at Summer Quarters to farm with Charles Kennedy.

Mt.  Pisgah, Iowa:

A daughter, Zibiah Jane Stoker, was born to John and Jane McDaniel Stoker.36


St.  Louis, Missouri:

A son, Joshua Parker, was born to Joshua and Drusilla Hartley Parker.


Kearny Mormon Battalion detachment, California:

The detachment arrived at the Mission of San Margaretha.



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:180; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 45‑6; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1100; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 161‑62; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 401‑02; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 142; William Clayton’s Journal, 166‑69; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 170; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 223; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:17; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” typescript, BYU, 39; “Norton Jacob Journal,” typescript, 74


                         Saturday, May 22, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

The mornings were getting warmer.  At 5 a.m., the temperature was forty‑ eight degrees.  There were a few thin clouds in the sky and a light breeze.  Some of the men partially buried the mammoth bone and put an inscription about it, written on a board for the next company.  It read, “Mammoth Bone Encampment 21 & 22 May 1847 Pioneers” and on the back, “All well, Sioux Indians seen here.”

A large dog came near the camp and followed the pioneers during their travels.  He appeared to be wild and part wolf.  They left meat out for him.

After five and a half miles, they crossed a stream about twenty feet wide which they named Crab Creek, and soon they halted for the noon rest.  Porter Rockwell came into camp and reported that he had seen Chimney Rock in the distance from a high bluff.  Orson Pratt wrote:  “With our glasses, Chimney Rock can now be seen at a distance of 42 miles up the river.  At this distance it appears like a short tower placed upon an elevated mound or hill.”

William Clayton recorded:


In order to satisfy myself, although my feet were blistered and very sore, I determined to take my telescope and go on the bluff to ascertain for myself whether the noted rock could be seen or not.  At half past twelve I started out alone. . . . I found the ascent very steep and lengthy in comparison to its appearance from camp.  When I arrived on the top I found a nice slightly arched surface of about a quarter of an acre in extent, but barren and very little grass on it.  Huge comparatively smooth rocks peeped through the surface on one of which I wrote with red chalk: ‘Wm. Clayton, May 22, 1847.’ On the highest point I sat down and took a view of the surrounding country which is magnificent indeed.  On the south at the distance of two miles from the river, there is a range of cedar trees on the bluffs which very much resemble some of the parks and seats of gentry in England.  East I could see where we camped last night, the high grass still burning. . . . West . . . I should judge of about twenty miles, I could see Chimney Rock very plainly with the naked eye, which from here very much resembles the large factory chimneys in England, although I could not see the form of its base.  The rock lay about due west from here.  After gratifying my curiosity, and seeing the men collecting their teams for a march, I descended on the west side of the bluff.


During the afternoon, their road took them up over some bluffs and back down to the prairie bottoms.  They crossed over several dry stream beds.  Many petrified bones were noticed as they traveled.  After traveling a total of fifteen and a half miles, the next camp was established about 150 yards from the river.  Orson Pratt described the area:


The wind and rains have worked the bluffs at this place into many curious forms, some of which resemble cones or pyramids, others exhibiting perpendicular and shelving sides. . . . I ascended several of these curiously shaped bluffs.  Now and then a straggling cedar crowned their tops, standing solitary and alone. . . . On the top of one of these bluffs, in the branches of a small cedar, a bald eagle’s nest was discovered, having one young in it.


George R. Grant37 and Orson K. Whitney38 carried it back to camp and planned to raise it.  William Clayton described it:  “Although it is very young and its feathers have scarcely commenced growing, it measures from the tips of its wings when stretched, forty‑six inches.  Its head is nearly the size of my fist and looks very ferocious.”  The nest was said to be three feet in diameter.  The mouth of a cavern was also discovered in one of the bluffs.  The men did not have torches, so they only went into it for a few feet.

Willard Richards named the bluffs “Ancient Ruins Bluffs” because they appeared to be the ruins of an ancient city.  Heber C. Kimball recorded:  “The whole scenery around is one of romantic beauty which cannot be fully described with pen or tongue.”

Wilford Woodruff wrote:  “A spring of Cold water was found in the top of one of these peaks apparently in a small basin of stone.  There are considerable number of rattle snakes come out of these bluffs.  I saw near a dozen to day.”  Several of the men killed some rattlesnakes and started to collect rattles.

A thunder storm passed by.  Lorenzo Young wrote:  “It thundered and lightninged for 2 hours and then blew hard, and it looked dismall but to our surprise and joy the clouds seemed to part and the rain and wind went on both side of us and did not disturb us.”

William Clayton described some evening activities in the camp of the pioneers.


The evening was spent very joyfully by most of the brethren . . . A number danced till the bugle sounded for bed time at nine o’clock.  A mock trial was also prosecuted in the case of the camp vs. James Davenport for blockading the highway and turning ladies out of their course.  Jackson Redding acted as the presiding judge.  Elder [Edson] Whipple attorney for defendant and Luke Johnson attorney for the people.  We have many such trials in the camp which are amusing enough and tend among other things to pass away the time cheerfully during leisure moments.  It was remarked this evening that we have one man in camp who is entitled to the credit of being more even tempered than any of the others, and that is Father [Solomon] Chamberlain.  He is invariably cross and quarrelsome, but the brethren all take it as a joke and he makes considerable amusement for the camp.


By 11 p.m. all was quiet.  Albert P. Rockwood wrote:  “It now is Eleven o’clock at night.  All is still but the tinkling of the cow bells and the footsteps of the watchmen.  They walk their midnight rounds and watch the saints while sleeping.”  He included a poem in his journal:


Another week’s journey is done,

Another hour of rest has come,

My soul retires,

Humbled in prayers,

O my god I calls

For blessings all & all.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Centhia Marie Tanner, age two, died of dropsy.  She was the daughter of John and Rebecca Smith Tanner.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

John D. Lee and about twenty others worked hard during the morning planting corn, beans, peas, melons, and squash.  In the afternoon, Brother Lee and others traveled to Winter Quarters.  He spent the night at John Berry’s home.

Kearny Mormon Battalion detachment, California:

The detachment arrived at the Mission of San Miguel.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

A ship was seen coming into the harbor.  Robert S. Bliss wrote:  “The winds are almost constantly from the North West which makes it cool & healthy, much cooler here than in Illinois at this time of Year.”



Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 402‑04; Howard Egan’s Diary, Pioneering the West, 46‑7; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 21; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:159; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:180‑81; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 162‑63; William Clayton’s Journal, 169‑76; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 170; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:17; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:93; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” typescript, BYU, 40


                          Sunday, May 23, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

During the morning, the men spent their time washing, baking and exploring.  Brigham Young, other members of the Twelve, and some others in the pioneer company climbed to the top of two of the highest “bluff ruins” that were across from the camp.  Appleton Harmon described his hike to the top:


As I came near the foot of the bluff, I gradually ascended until I came to the foot of a pyramid.  By going around it, I found that I could ascend it.  Fragments of rocks had broken off from near the top and laying a confused mass, half‑way down the side.  I succeeded in ascending to its summit. . . . I was here joined by three or four of the brethren who came to visit the same scenery.


Wilford Woodruff wrote:  “We had a fair view of chimney rock from where we were.  I carried a bleached buffalo bull’s head on to the top & wrote upon it with a pencil our names & distances from several places for the benefit of the next camp.”  Erastus Snow added:  “The scenery is picturesque and romantic in the extreme.  At a distance of two or three miles they greatly resemble the ruins of ancient towers and castles and pleasure grounds of noblemen.”  Using a barometer, Orson Pratt estimated that the bluffs were 235 feet above the river.  Several of the group amused themselves by rolling down some large rocks from the top of the bluffs.  They also carved their names in the bark of a lone cedar.

While Nathaniel Fairbanks was exploring some bluffs, he was bit by a rattlesnake and became sick before he returned to camp.39  Howard Egan reported:  “He had been up on the bluffs, and he said he felt the effects of it all over his body.  Three minutes after he was bit he felt a pricking in his lungs.”  The brethren did their best to treat him and administer to him.  He soon improved.40

The bugle sounded at 11:30 a.m., calling the camp together for a Sabbath meeting.  After singing and prayer, Erastus Snow spoke about the benefits that can come from experiencing adversity.  Brigham Young stated that he was satisfied that the Lord was with them and leading them.  He had never seen a company of people more united that this camp.  “Some express fears that we would not be able to get in crops.  Well suppose we do not, we have done all we could and traveled as fast as our teams were able to go.  When we have done all we can we should feel just as well satisfied as if we had a thousand acres planted with grain.  The Lord would do the rest.”

President Young said he had never felt better in his life than he did on this journey and he felt impressed to bless the company in the name of the Lord.  He encouraged them all to go forth in their work, that they may increase in knowledge and understanding.  He wished to teach them many things, including how to administer sealing ordinances, but felt constrained to only teach certain things in the house of the Lord in a stake of Zion.

He said that if all the knowledge in this camp were put together and if Joseph Smith was in their midst, he could gather the whole amount of this knowledge and wind it around his little finger.  It they then considered the knowledge of angels, and above that, the knowledge of the Lord, they would realize that here was much for them to learn.


We are forming a character for eternity and have been, ever since we received the gospel and knew the right from the wrong way, hence how careful we should be in all our acts. . . . If the Saints had obeyed counsel last year and let the authorities go ahead of the main camp, there could have been two hundred men here one year ago as easy as now, and the brethren would not have gone in the army.


He commended the men for always following his counsel while on the road.  He felt that the spirit of peace rested upon the while camp.  Several other men spoke including Amasa Lyman and George A. Smith.  Brigham Young announced that the four bishops in the camp (Tarlton Lewis,41 Shadrach Roundy,42 John Higbee,43 and Addison Everett44) would administer the sacrament on the following Sunday.  He asked the brethren not to “ramble off” and tire themselves, but to use the Sabbath as a day of rest.  The meeting was then closed.

William Clayton recorded:


Awhile after meeting I walked out with Elder Kimball a piece from the camp.  We sat down and I read to him, my journal of the last four days with which he seemed well pleased.  We then knelt down together and poured out our souls to God for ourselves, the camp and our dear families in Winter Quarters.  While we were engaged in prayer the wind rose suddenly from the northwest, a heavy cloud having been gathering from the west all the afternoon.  A sudden gust struck Elder Kimball’s hat and carried it off.  After we got through, his hat was nowhere in sight, but following the direction of the wind we soon saw it at a distance on the bottom of the prairie still flying swiftly.  We both ran and chased it about three quarters of a mile and caught it a little from the river.


During this time, Thomas Bullock and Luke Johnson hiked up to the top of the bluff that others had ascended during the morning.  Brother Bullock recorded:  “While I was on the very top of the bluff, a rattle snake challenged for battle.  His rattles startled me.  I sprung over him, calling to Luke, he turned round, and said, ‘If that’s the way you fight my friend, I take his [the snake’s] part in the battle.’”  On the way down they found a mammoth bone partially buried in the ground.  They tried to dig it up but could not.  They were able to break off a portion and brought it back to the camp.

A storm gathered and the wind continued to blow hard.  They quickly did all they could do to protect the wagon bows and covers from the furious force.  The wind continued for an hour and then it rained for another hour with occasional hail.  Then the temperature dropped.  Wilford Woodruff recalled tales of abrupt temperature shifts from traders who had been in this area.  He covered his horses with blankets.  During the night he got up several times to check on them.  They shivered with cold, but were fine.  The wind continued to blow all night and many of the men could not sleep at all.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

A meeting was held at the Winter Quarters’ stand.  The Saints were instructed by Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, John D. Lee, Isaac Morley and John Smith.  They pled to the Saints to take care for the poor.  Elder Pratt questioned why Brothers David Boss and Sessions had withheld their cattle from being used to plow the Big Field.  Brother Boss explained that his cattle were poor, and he wanted them to regain their strength for the journey to the mountains.  Elder Pratt stated that no person should leave for the mountains without first obtaining a certificate showing that they had done their duty in plowing the Big Field.  Elder Pratt further spoke on priesthood authority.  “They come to me to ask who is the president & his two councillors . . . . I don’t know anything about 3 except those dead, but I do know about 12 men who hold the keys of this kingdom & are President & one of them by reason of age is the President of the Quorum and of the church.”

 John Taylor asked the congregation why it was that the brethren had to continually remind them of their previous covenants.  “Why don’t you do it and act honorable like men.  What need is there of so much talk day after day and Sabbath after Sabbath.  Go to work . . . work together in unity as brethren, for in unity there is strength.”

John D. Lee said that he, with two men, two boys, and women had cleared, plowed, harrowed, and planted about seventy‑five acres of land at Summer Quarters.  Brother Lee also said that Brigham Young wanted his brother, John Young, to be in the next company that starts for the mountains.  Brother Lee donated ten dollars and a yoke of oxen toward this cause.

Jedediah M. Grant returned from his mission to the east.  He had been away from Winter Quarters for almost three months.45


Kearny Mormon Battalion detachment, California:

The detachment arrived at the Mission of San Luis Obispo.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

An inspection was held in the morning.  Later, two cannons and some balls were brought from the deserted Marine quarters.

News continued to reach the men stationed at San Diego.  They heard from a sailor that Brother Samuel Brannan had sent fourteen loads of provisions to the brethren.  The battalion also learned discouraging news that the families of the battalion would not be going over the mountains during the summer.  The men hoped to learn soon what the new plans were.  If their families were not to arrive soon in the West, they wanted to be discharged to go after their loved ones.

Azariah Smith wrote a poem that included:


Oh my home when shall I see thee,

And the friends I love so well,

I do not like this barren country

But glad would bid it long farewell.

Let me hasten to the home I love so well,


On the Pacific Ocean some thousand miles from home,

Across the rocky mountains I had a cause to roam,

Enlisting for a soldier and leave my native land,

And with friends and kindred I took the parting hand.


Far from my dear Mother and Sisters I am

But by the grace of God I will see them again,

And live in Zion’s city most glorious to behold,

Whose walls are made of jasper and streets of purest Gold.



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:181‑82; Autobiography of John Brown, 74; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1100‑01; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:159; “Diary of Charles Harper,” 22; “Journal of Luke S. Johnson,” typescript, BYU, 8; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 21‑2; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 404‑05; William Clayton’s Journal, 176‑80; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 163‑64; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 170‑71; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 143; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:17; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:94; Bigler, The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith, 84; “Norton Jacob Journal,” typescript, 76; Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, 82


                         Monday, May 24, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

It was so cold that at 6 a.m. a few flakes of snow were seen.  At 8 a.m., the pioneers moved out of their weekend camp.  When the company halted for the noon rest, they were visited by two Sioux Indians.  Using sign language, the Indians explained that their tribe was a small distance up and across the river.  They fed the Indians and showed them the dog that had been following the camp for several days.  The dog was also shy around the Indians but they took it with them.  They crossed the river to tell their tribe about the pioneers, who continued their journey.

Harriet Young wrote:  “Across the river a little to the right of us we could see something that resembled a stately courthouse.  I presume it was a rock.  As we approach Chimney Rock, it looks still more magestic.”

About 5:30 p.m., after traveling more than sixteen miles, they saw a company of Indians across the river.  The wagons were quickly circled for defense.  Thirty‑five Indians including a few squaws and boys approached the river from the south flying a flag of peace.

Brigham Young sent a man up the river with a white flag to greet them.  Wilford Woodruff recorded.  “I rode about two miles forward to find grass and a camping place and on my return I saw about 30 Sioux Indians plunge their horses into the river on the opposite side & make towards us.  I rode with several others to the river & met them as they came out.  They shook hands with us, very friendly.  The Chief unfurled a large American flag with the eagle stars & stripes.”  He also presented letters of introduction written in French.

Orson Pratt wrote:  “Being much better dressed than the Indians on the frontiers, many of them wearing broadcloth, blankets, and fur caps, ornamented with an abundance of beads and other ornaments, having bows and steel‑pointed arrows, together with some fire‑arms.”  William Clayton added:  “All had many ornaments on their clothing and ears, some had nice painted shells suspended from the ear.  All appeared to be well armed with muskets.  Their moccasins were indeed clean and beautiful.  One had a pair of moccasins of a clear white, ornamented with beads, etc.  They fit very tight to the foot.”

Their chief and four others were permitted to come down to the camp and were shown around by Stephen Markham and Henry G. Sherwood.  William Clayton recorded:  “They were shown a six and fifteen shooter also the cannon and the gunners went through the evolutions a number of times which seemed to please them much.”

The horses in the camp were staked down carefully.  Soon the brethren believed the Indians could be trusted and provisions were taken to the rest of the Indians camped about a quarter mile up the river.  All of the Indians soon came into camp.  John Higbee traded horses with one them and several of the brethren bought robes and moccasins.  Their chief, Owastote‑cha asked to stay overnight with the pioneers.  His request was granted and a tent was set up for the chief and his wife.  The old chief amused himself by looking at the moon through a telescope for twenty minutes.

Heber C. Kimball was quite sick and was unable to leave his wagon to scout the road ahead.


Pueblo, Colorado:

The sick detachments of the Mormon Battalion and the rest of the Mississippi Saints departed from Pueblo, heading north toward Fort Laramie (300 miles away), to start their journey to California.46


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

It was a very rainy, cold day at Winter Quarters.  A steamboat arrived with a large load of goods belonging to a Mr. Beach and Wooley.  A man fell off the boat and was drowned in the afternoon.

Mary Richards wrote:  “A very rainy day was sewing most of the day and wrote a little in my journal, had the head ache and felt very gloomy all day.”

Eliza Hall Cook, age seven months, died of inflammation of the bowels.  She was the daughter of Phineas W. and Eliza Howland Cook.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

About Fifty Indians came into town.  A beef was killed and supper offered to them.



Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 406‑07; Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 47; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 22; Journal of Luke S. Johnson, typescript, BYU, 9; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:159; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:183; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 165‑66; William Clayton’s Journal, 180‑82; Our Pioneer Heritage, 1:501; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:94; Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion, 250; Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, 1:256; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 144; Pratt, “Parley P. Pratt in Winter Quarters and the Trail West, BYU Studies, 385; Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, 82


                         Tuesday, May 25, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

The pioneers fed the Sioux Indians breakfast in the morning.  They stayed in camp and traded until the pioneer camp was ready to leave.  Chief “Wash te ha” asked for a letter of recommendation, which Thomas Bullock wrote for him.  “This is to Certify that Wash te ha of the Dacotah tribe of Indians, with Wash te cha the principal Chief, and thirty three other men, women and children, visited our Camp, on the 24th and 25th May 1847, behaved themselves civily and peaceably; we gave them bread.  They were very friendly to us, and the best behaved Indians we have yet seen.”  Stephen Markham traded a mule for a pony.  The Indians bid good‑bye and then crossed back over the river.  Levi Jackman commented:  “They were fine looking and good behaved and a happy company.  They were dressed neat and clean and truly gentlemen and ladies.”

William Clayton recorded:  “One mile from where we started, we began to ascend a low range of bluffs to avoid a large, high sandy ridge which projects to the river.  We traveled three quarters of a mile and descended again to the level prairie.”  At 9:40 they halted to let the cattle feed for a while.  Brother Clayton continued:  “The sun is very hot, the roads sandy and hard teaming.  The river is probably three quarters of a mile wide here and on this side there are many small islands.”

The pioneers then continued on until the noon rest at 11:30 a.m.  The road was soft and wet from the recent rains.  No buffalo were seen in this region and the other game was becoming sparse.  One of the hunters did shoot an antelope which was distributed throughout the camp.

At 6 p.m., they camped three miles east of Chimney Rock, about a half mile from the river.  The campground was low and wet, making it “very disagreeable.”  The mosquitoes were bothersome.  They had decided to camp at a wetter spot because the feed was better for the animals.  Howard Egan wrote:  “The evening was very pleasant and the brethren were in good spirits.”  They spent the evening hours dancing.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Wilford Woodruff’s wife, Mary Ann Jackson Woodruff, gave birth to her first child.  She named him James Jackson Woodruff.

Some Omaha Indians approached the city and were stopped six miles to the south by Hosea Stout and others.  The Indians wanted to enter Winter Quarters to deliver some horses which had been stolen.  They also wanted to receive the reward payment.  They were told that they could not enter the city because of orders issued by Parley P. Pratt.  The Indians were chagrined and argued for the right to enter the city.  After some debate, and promises to live in peace with the Saints, the brethren agreed to let Young Elk and two of his chiefs to take the horses in and receive the pay.  They insisted on going with six instead of three.  They brought in six horses.

After they entered the city, Hosea Stout went to see Parley P. Pratt and reported to him what had transpired.  Elder Pratt refused to see the Omahas and told Brother Stout to inform them that “Our chiefs were mad & did not want to see them, nor have any thing to do with them.”  He said the local leaders could deal with them.  Brother Stout next went to see John Taylor.  When Elder Taylor learned of Elder Pratt’s reaction, he also took the same position and referred him to Cornelius Lott and John Smith.  Brother Stout saw Brother Lott outside of Elder Taylor’s house and was told that he would have nothing to do with the Omahas.  At this point, Brother Stout became frustrated and said if the leaders would not deal with the situation, he would just leave the Omahas in the city where they were.  Brother Lott finally decided to go see John Smith about the situation.  It was decided to send Brother Lott and Brother Stout to meet with the Indians.

The Omahas delivered the six horses, received their pay, and then were escorted back to the rest of the Omahas who were waiting impatiently six miles to the south.  When they arrived, a council was formed with the Omahas on one side and the brethren on the other.  Cornelius Lott began by saying angrily that there was nothing to talk about because the Omahas had not lived up to their agreements -- that it was no use talking.  Young Elk remained calm and stated that he had been sent by his father to deliver the horses to improve relations with the Saints.  He said he had very wounded feelings for being stopped on the prairie like wild beasts and not being admitted into a hearing with their leaders.  He had gone through much effort to convince his people to return the horses and now he was treated badly.  Brother Stout wrote:  “He spoke very sharp at this ill treatment & laid it to our chiefs & said that if the ‘Big Red headed’ chief (Brigham) was here it would not be so but he would have taken them in & fed them & spoke friendly.”  He wished that Brigham Young would come back because he knew they would then all live in peace.  He stated that the Omahas would have never stopped the head chiefs from entering their village.

Brother Lott calmed down his harsh rhetoric and spoke in more reasonable terms with Young Elk.  The meeting was concluded and the Omahas asked for presents to take back to Old Elk.  The brethren stated that they could not do this but agreed to take Young Elk’s words back to Alpheus Cutler.  The Omahas left, still not satisfied, and the brethren started for home at 6 p.m.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

Captain Daniel Davis returned from a trip to the country.  He was able to see ranches and farms, and he gave an excellent report of the valleys that he had visited.


Kearny detachment of the battalion, Monterey, California:

The Kearny detachment arrived at Monterey at about noon.  General Kearny had not yet arrived by sea.  They set up their quarters in a building on the southern end of the town which was also occupied by some of Colonel Stevenson’s New York regiment.  Sixty of the regiment had been ordered to go out and fight the Indians in the mountains.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

The Indians who had come into town the previous day departed in the morning for their home in the Mountains.  During the previous night, the battalion members had been put on alert and ordered to load their guns.  They were to be ready for a possible attack from the Mexicans and Indians, but no hostilities ever took place.



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:183‑84; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 23; Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 50; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 407; William Clayton’s Journal, 182‑83; “Levi Jackman Autobiography,” typescript, BYU, 33; Our Pioneer Heritage, 10:234; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 167‑68; Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, 1:257‑58; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:94; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:17; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 223


                      Wednesday, May 26, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning weather was clear and calm ‑‑ fifty‑eight degrees.  Thomas Bullock wrote:  “While I was engaged filling up the Doctor’s [Willard Richards] Water Bottle, my Ink Bottle fell out of my pocket into the Well, there being about four feet of Water in it.  I went to work, emptied the Well, descended, and after groping some time in the mud bottom, I again found it safe & sound.”

The pioneers broke camp at 8 a.m., and after traveling four and three quarters miles, the pioneers arrived directly across the river from Chimney Rock.  Orson Pratt calculated the height to be 260 feet.  After about two more miles, they stopped for the mid‑day rest.

Wilford Woodruff recorded:


Just before camping at noon while travling on a smooth prairie, an occurrence took place which like to have proven of serious consequence to our camp.  An Indian Horse that was bought of the Sioux ran away with a singletree to his heels & gave a tremendious fright to the cows, oxen & horses that were attached to the waggons.  And in an instant, a dozen or more waggons were darting by each other like lightning & the horses & mules flying as it were over the ground.  Some turned to the right & some to the left.  Some run into other waggons.  The horse & mule that Br [John] Fowler was driving leaped with all speed.  With Br Little hold of the lines & Br Fowler hold of the bits they darted by my carriage like electricity & came within one inch of a collision with my wheels. . . . Br Fowlers waggon continued to roll regardless of rough or smooth ground for about fifty rods . . .  but all was soon stopped & returned to their lines without any accident to any team of waggon which appeared to me truly a miracle. . . . It gave us something of an idea what an Indian yell would do in such an encampment with teams hitched to waggons.  A person can hardly conceive of the power that is manifest in animals especially mules when in such a fright.  But I felt thankful that no accident happened.


William Clayton gave this account:


Yesterday morning Stephen Markham traded a mule which was foundered and unable to work to one of the Indians for a pony.  They put him in the harness a little towards evening and again this morning.  When crossing a very soft place the whipple tree unhitched and struck against his heels.  He ran full gallop towards the head teams and twice through the line of wagons causing several teams, horses and oxen both, to spring from the road and run some distance before the men could stop them.  After running nearly a mile some of the brethren caught the pony brought him back and put him to the wagon again without any accident, except a little injury to the harness.


In the afternoon, the company traveled five more miles and then camped in a circle by the river at 5 p.m.  Orson Pratt wrote:  “The prairie still wet; grass a little better than usual.  Grasshoppers seem to be an inhabitant of their country; I noticed that there were plenty in dry places.  Prickly pears are becoming more numerous.”  Four antelope were killed by the hunters during the day and distributed throughout the camp.

Lorenzo and Harriet Young decided to try their luck at raising chickens during the journey.  Harriet was becoming tired of the prairie.  “We are still traveling through a desolate and barren country, not a tree or shrub to be seen.  My eyes are weary of seeing a barren prairie.  I am fond of variety.”

Right after the camp was established, a heavy black cloud arose from the west.  The wind blew hard, but only a few drops of rain fell.  A sad accident occurred.  As some of the brethren were moving George Billings’ wagon, they ran over the young eagle and killed it.47  William Clayton explained:  “Carlos Murray has been trying to rear the young eagle caught on Saturday.  After stopping tonight, he put it under a wagon and a while afterwards the men ran the wagon back, one of the wheels ran over its head and killed it.”48


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Emily Jane Brown, age six days, died.  She was the daughter of Isaac and Hannah Davis Brown.


Summer Quarters, Nebraska:

Brothers Joseph Busby and Johnson returned from Winter Quarters and reported that two steamboats had arrived at Winter Quarters, the first on the 24th and the second on this day.  Goods and passengers had been unloaded.  At dusk, John D. Lee called the settlement together for a meeting.  They adopted some resolutions.  No cattle were to be turned loose in the settlement.  Calves were to be kept from doing any mischief.  A fence should be made on the west line of the settlement.  Charles Kennedy’s land was to be fenced in on Saturday.  John D. Lee’s company would fence the lower line of the farm.

Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

Robert S. Bliss wrote:  “To day is my guard tour.  I have sent to the Rancheros for 1 mule & 1 mare for my journey home; I look forward to my discharge with much anxiety.”



Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 408; Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 50; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 23; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:184‑85; William Clayton’s Journal, 184‑86; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 168; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 172; “The Journal of Robert S. Bliss,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:94; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:160


                        Thursday, May 27, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

It was a delightful spring morning.  Stephen Markham’s troublesome Indian pony strayed away.  He soon found it after much difficulty.  The pioneers broke camp at 7:45 a.m.  They traveled eight miles and then rested the cattle at some good grass.  Orson Pratt observed:  “To‑day the bottoms near the river have looked refreshingly green, affording a luxuriant herbage for our animals.  As you recede from the river, the bottoms assume a more sterile aspect ‑‑ they produce but little grass or vegetation, with the exception of the prickly pear, which here flourishes in great abundance.”

In the afternoon, Wilford Woodruff took over a duty from Heber C. Kimball -- that of choosing the road for the pioneer company.  He said, “I piloted the road in the afternoon as strait as any road that had been made on the whole route. . . . It should be understood that we are piloting a road for the House of Israel to travel in for many years to come.  Therefore it requires the greater care.”  Heber C. Kimball rode with William Clayton in Luke Johnson’s wagon while Brother Clayton read to Elder Kimball journal entries he had written for Elder Kimball.

They camped near the river opposite Scotts Bluff.  Erastus Snow described the bluffs:


One object standing alone which seems to attract particular attention is a tower of about one hundred and fifty feet high in three distinct sections, having the appearance of very hard clay with a petrified dome.  Its appearance is so artificial at first that the mind is scarcely willing to believe that the rude hand of nature so formed it.  The tops and sides of this cragged and imposing tower are sparsely mottled with small shrubbery, but whether pine or cedar I was unable to distinguish.


The hunters brought in five antelope.  A thunderstorm rolled through but only a little rain fell in camp.  Erastus Snow concluded the day by writing:  “While I write I hear the sound of music and dancing on the other side of the circle.  This is a very common recreation in camp, though we have to dispense with the ladies, a very great desideratum.”

Albert P. Rockwood wrote in the evening:  “The violin is going and I heard the call dose doe, swing your partner, ashed all four find forward & back &c.”


Kearny detachment of the battalion, Monterey, California:

The men were permitted to go on board the Columbus.  Nathaniel Jones wrote:  “She has three decks and mounts ninety-eight guns, and has on board seven-hundred sailors and mariners.  In every way it is a splendid, well-finished craft.  Today the Frigate of war, Congress, came in from Stockton.  Just at evening, the sloop Lexington, came in with General Kearny and Lieut Col. Cooke on board.”



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:185; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 14:1102; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 409; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:18; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” typescript, BYU, 42


                           Friday, May 28, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

Rain during the morning delayed the day’s journey until 11 a.m.  Thick, heavy clouds remained in the sky.  While they were waiting, Howard Egan and Luke Johnson took the boat-wagon, “Revenue Cutter” up the North Platte river about three miles in search of wood.  They found a beautiful, clear stream from a spring, with a large number of small fish.

As the pioneers traveled, they crossed the clear stream found by the brethren earlier in the morning.  Wilford Woodruff commented:  “We passed along side a clear steam of water with some beaver dams & houses upon it.  At one place it raised the water about two feet which was lined with fish, a good share of which was speckled trout.”

Orson Pratt described the scene:


A very few scattering trees were seen on the opposite side of the river . . . I believe, the first seen for several days, with the exception of small cedars or pines, which are thinly scattered over and upon the sides of the bluffs. . . . Small hillocks or ant‑hills are numerous; they consists of small pebbles or gravel, accumulated with great industry from the neighbouring soil.  Mingled with these were found, in different places, small Indian beads, which these insects had collected to beautify and adorn their habitations.


After traveling eleven and a half miles, they camped near the river.  There was plenty of driftwood to use for building fires.  Porter Rockwell and Thomas Brown went out hunting and spotted five or six Indians.

Appleton Harmon wrote:  “President Young and Brother Kimball have been privately exhorting some of the brethren to forsake an excess of mirthfulness and indulging in plays, dances, sham trials, etc., which have been carried to excess for the last few days and would have a tendency to cause a neglect of duties which ought not to be.”

Wilford Woodruff also wrote on this subject:  “During the evening President Young called at my fire & seeing several of the brethren playing dominoes in a waggon nearby began to teach by saying that the devil was getting power over the camp.”  Brigham Young said:


Levity, loud laughter, whooping and hallowing among the elders, proceeds from an evil spirit.  See, all around us at this moment, what a spirit of levity, and it all arises from a neglect of duty.  For two or three men who do not belong to the church are enabled to insinuate the spirit that rules them through the whole camp and over power the other one hundred forty men. . . . There is no harm arising from merriment or dancing if the brethren when they have indulged in it know when to stop.  But the devil takes advantage of it to lead the mind away from the Lord.  They forget the object of this journey and all feel well together, but if we travel in this way five hundred miles further, it will lead to the shedding of blood and some will seek to destroy the priesthood. . . . We are pioneers for the whole church of God on earth, seeking for a place to establish the kingdom, but we have not found it yet.


 Wilford Woodruff felt the Spirit testify to him that President Young’s words were true.  Elder Woodruff went to Willard Richards’ wagon where they read a chapter in the Book of Mormon and offered prayers.  Afterwards, a council meeting was held at Brigham Young’s wagon with other members of the Twelve.  They wrote “the word of the Lord” received by Brigham Young for the camp concerning their need to repent.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Mary Richards visited two hours with her new neighbors, Sisters Wilder and Matson.  “Had an interesting talk with them about the principles of the Gospel after which I came home, got supper, molded some candles.”


St.  Louis, Missouri:

Elder Lyman O. Littlefield arrived at St. Louis on the way to his mission in England.  He wrote of St. Louis:  “A large number of Saints resided there.  They were in good spirits and held meetings regularly for the preaching of the gospel.”



Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 410; Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 51; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 24; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:185‑86; “Lyman Littlefield Reminiscences (1888),” p.190; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 144; “Norton Jacob Journal,” typescript, 78-9


                         Saturday, May 29, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

The morning was cold and rainy.  Harriet Young wrote:


It was tedious looking out doors, for we are scanted for wood as there is no timber, and all we get is once in a while a scattering stick that floats down the river.  Our buffalo chips are of no account when it rains, and but little when dry, yet I feel no inclination to complain, for if ever a people was blest on earth it is us.  Our prayers have verily been heard and answered and I feel a spirit of thankfulness all the time.


At 10 a.m., the horn sounded, signaling the men to gather up the horses and cattle.  At about noon, the camp was gathered together at the center of the circle of wagons.  Roll was taken and Brigham Young spoke, standing in the boat wagon.

President Young was very direct and launched into a powerful, one-hour discourse.  “I am resolved not to go any further with the Camp unless you will covenant to humble yourselves before the Lord & serve him & quit your folley and wickedness.  For a week past nearly the whole camp has been card playing, checkers and dominoes have occupied the attention of the brethren.”  Dancing and foolishness was participated in every night.  “Now it is quite time to quit it.”  The mock trials must cease before fights broke out.  He had even heard reports of men playing cards on Sunday before the Sabbath meeting.  He added that civil recreation was of no harm if not done in excess.  Dancing would be proper if done moderately and if afterwards they would retire to their wagons, thank the Lord for the privilege of dancing, and would ask him to pour out his Spirit on the camp.  But this was not being done.  Their time would be better spent saying prayers, reading good books, or instructing each other in righteousness.

Regarding some contention in the camp, he said:  “When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I hear is some of the brethren jawing each other and quarreling because a horse had got loose in the night.”

He spoke out against card playing.  “I have played cards once in my life since I became a Mormon to see what kind of spirit would attend it, and I was so well satisfied, that I would rather see in your hands the dirtiest thing you could find on the earth, than a pack of cards.  You never read of gambling, playing cards, checkers, dominoes, etc., in the scriptures.”

He said that those who persisted in taking their Maker’s name in vain should be cursed and dwindle away in unbelief, would deny their Heavenly Father, and would serve the devil.  He spoke about prayer:  “Here is an opportunity for every man to prove himself, to know whether he will pray and remember his God without being asked to do it every day; to know whether he will have confidence enough to ask of God that he may receive without my telling him to do it.”  He said that if this camp was composed of newly baptized members of the Church he would be more gentle in his approach, but he had to be direct because the camp was made of up Elders with many years of experience holding the priesthood.

President Young reminded them that they were on a mission from God to seek out a resting place for the Saints in the mountains.  Afterwards, they would be called to preach the gospel to the nations.  “How would you look if they would know your conduct and you what did you do when you went to seek out Zion, and find a resting place for the Saints where the Standard of the Kingdom of God could be reared & her banners unfurled for the nations to gather unto?”

After he spoke further on this topic, priesthood roll was taken.  There were 8 of the Twelve, 18 High Priests, 80 Seventies, and 8 Elders.  To each of the quorums, one at a time, he put them under this covenant:  “If you are willing to humble yourselves before the Lord & covenant to do right & walk humble before him, to repent of all your follies, to cease from all your evils, and serve God according to His laws, make it manifest by raising your hand.”  He then put the rest of the members under the same covenant.  To the nonmembers in the camp, he told them that they were not at liberty to introduce anything corrupt or to disturb the peace of the camp.  They could withdraw at this time, but if they did not, they must conform to the rules of the camp.  He proposed that the following day, Sunday would be a day of fasting and prayer.  A sustaining vote was shown.

At this point, he again referred to the standard and ensign that would be raised in Zion.  On the standard would be a flag of every nation under heaven so that there would be an invitation to all nations to come unto Zion.  The Saints in Zion would have to live a Celestial law during the millennial time.  All would have to bow their knees and acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ.  All the nations and religions would not be required to be baptized, but they would be required to acknowledge the reign of Christ.  They would still have their agency to reject the gospel but could not be persecuted by the Saints.  “And upon this principle all men or religions may dwell with us in peace, if they will keep the outward laws of the kingdom of God so as to acknowledge his name and his right to reign and let us keep the law of the gospel and obey his commandments undisturbed.”

Elder Heber C. Kimball arose and testified that what President Young had said was the word of the Lord, “and was just as much binding upon him as though it was written revelation and it was just as much binding upon the whole camp as it was upon him and urged the Saints to give heed to the teachings that were given.”  He added, “What has passed this morning will make it an everlasting blessing to the brethren, if they will repent and be faithful and keep their covenant.”

Orson Pratt stated that if the Saints had leisure hours, they could easily find better things to do with their time than playing cards.  “There was a world of knowledge to be obtained and every leisure moment should be improved in storing the mind with some science or learning, some good principle and acknowledge the teaching received to be of the Lord.”

Wilford Woodruff next spoke and said that “a burned child dreaded the fire.”  He said that he had not forgotten the experience marching with Zion’s Camp in 1834.  He would never forget the hour when Joseph Smith stood upon a wagon wheel, rebuked the camp, and said they would be visited by the destroying angels.  Death came upon the camp.  Elder Woodruff hoped that they would not see a repeat of this curse on their camp.  “I would advise all the brethren who have got cards to burn them up, also checkers and dominoes.  For if you keep your covenants you have made you will have no time to use them & they will be useless lumber on your hands.  If you keep them for your children, they will only prove a curse to them.”

Stephen Markham arose and confessed that he had sinned by playing cards on Sunday before he went to preach.  He asked for forgiveness.  William Clayton recorded:  “While he was speaking he was very much affected indeed and wept like a child.  Many of the brethren felt much affected and all seemed to realize for the first time, the excess to which they had yielded and the awful consequence of such things if persisted in.  Many were in tears and felt humbled.”  Brigham Young said that he was willing to forgive Brother Markham, and that he knew he would be faithful.

The meeting ended and the men went to their wagons to start the day’s journey.  William Clayton wrote:


We again pursued our journey in peace, all reflecting on what has passed today, and many expressing their gratitude for what has transpired.  It seemed as though we were just commencing on this important mission, and all realizing the responsibility resting upon us to conduct ourselves in such a manner that the journey may be an everlasting blessing to us, instead of an everlasting disgrace.  No loud laughter was heard, no swearing, no quarreling, no profane language, no hard speeches to man or beast, and it truly seemed as though the cloud had burst and we had emerged into a new element, a new atmosphere, and a new society.


Erastus Snow agreed:  “The fruits of our morning’s lecture were clearly seen.  A very different spirit brooded over the camp.”

George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff led the way by choosing the road.  They traveled eight and a half miles.  Wilford Woodruff wrote about the bluffs:  “One large rock resembled the hull of a steamboat loaded with freight, so I named it Stone Steamboat Bluff.”  It started to rain before they stopped for the night.  They traveled eight and a half miles.49

William Empey closed the day with:  “We camped for the night in peace and in love one with another.  We retired as usual by the sound of the bugle and paid our devotions to God and rested in peace.”


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

Phinehas Richards kindly delivered a wagon-load of fish for the guard and police.  Hosea Stout spent the evening delivering them to all the families.

John D. Lee arrived from Summer Quarters to deliver some clothing and provisions to Sister Pace, a wife of James Pace away in the Mormon Battalion.  At about 9 p.m., the rain came down in torrents.


Kearny detachment of the battalion, Monterey, California:

The detachment drew seventy-five days’ rations for their journey to the east with General Kearny.


St.  Louis, Missouri:

Lyman O. Littlefield departed from St. Louis on a steamboat.  He wrote:


We left the wharf at St. Louis.  The morning was a lovely one.  Brother Fox and myself were seated on the hurricane deck to enjoy the pleasure of a ‘goodbye’ sight of the city.  The view presented to us was splendid.  The distant city with its towers and bright domes ‑‑ the many steamers at the wharf, motionless and still, while others passed and repassed on the bosom of the broad Mississippi ‑‑ presented a scene of business and wealth.


Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:

Henry Standage wrote:  “Today being off duty, I cut up a raw hide for lariates or long halters and to rig up my new saddle.  Brethren very busy every day buying horses and preparing to start home.”


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

Several of the men started to put up a brick kiln to burn several thousand bricks for a Mexican named Don Juan Bandini.



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:186‑190; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 15:54; Autobiography of John Brown, 74‑5; “Charles Harper Diary,” 24; “Luke S. Johnson Journal,” typescript, BYU, 10; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 24‑5; William Clayton’s Journal, 184‑201; “Lyman Littlefield Reminiscences (1888),” 190‑1; Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, 1:258; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 172; Journal of Henry Standage in Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 223; “Journal Extracts of Henry W. Bigler,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 5:61; “Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:160; “The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:18; “Journal of William A. Empey,” Annals of Wyoming, 21:129

                          Sunday, May 30, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:

This was a special day of fasting and prayer in the pioneer camp.  Luke Johnson described the early morning:  “Pleasant and warm, great alteration in the camp, all was quiet, no cooking going on, no breakfast getting ready, no hard words.”  Albert P. Rockwood added:  “This morning is pleasant.  All is still and quiet about the camp save the tinkling of cow bells and now and then the weigh of a horse.  The meek & quiet Spirit of the Lord broods over us.”  Wilford Woodruff spent the early morning reading in the Book of Mormon and pouring out his soul to the Lord in prayer:  “His Spirit descended upon me & I was blessed.”

A prayer meeting was held in the morning at 8 a.m. south of camp, under the direction of Tarlton Lewis.  The meeting was opened by singing, “The Spirit of God like a Fire is Burning.”  Many of the brethren expressed their feelings and confessed their sins to each other.  Appleton Harmon said the meeting was “truly interesting.  The brethren all spoke confessing their faults and feeling a determination to profit by the reproof that was received yesterday.”  Lorenzo Young recorded that his mind “was weighed down and it was a day I shall long remember.”

At 11 a.m., a sacrament meeting was held.  It was cut short because rain started to fall.  Thomas Bullock noted:  “The rain commencing as soon as the cup had been passed round.”  William Clayton observed:  “I never noticed the brethren so still and sober on a Sunday since we started as today.  There is no jesting nor laughing, nor nonsense.  All appear to be sober and feel to remember their covenant which makes things look far more pleasant than they have done heretofore.”

In the afternoon, the Twelve and others went upon the bluffs to offer up prayers to the Lord, dressed in temple robes.  Albert Carrington and Porter Rockwell also went along to stand guard.50  Erastus Snow wrote:  “We presented ourselves before the Lord in a prayer circle, and felt our spirits greatly refreshed by the manifestation of his blessings upon us.”  William Clayton recorded that they “offered up prayer to God for ourselves, this camp and all pertaining to it, the brethren in the army, our families and all the Saints.”  Afterwards, they returned to their wagons and closed their fast by partaking of some refreshments.

Thomas Bullock was very disappointed that he was not notified of this prayer circle meeting which he should have attended.  “I have been deprived of one of my greatest & sacred privileges.  O my God look down upon my tears & suffering & have mercy on me.”

At 6 p.m., the Twelve and others climbed the highest bluff and viewed the surroundings as the sun set.  Howard Egan recorded:


Chimney‑rock was still visible down the river, and the towering heights of the long range of the Black Hills above us.  To the north and northeast of us, the country was little else than sand hills, as far as the eye could see.  After gratifying our eyes, the president proposed prayers upon this, the highest ground we have stood upon.  After bowing before the Lord upon these heights, we descended, and returned to camp at dark, weary in body, and retired to rest, satisfied with the proceedings of the day.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

In the morning, Orson Hyde visited with the Richards family.  He told Mary Richards about her husband Samuel’s illness with smallpox in England.  He assured her that he had received word that he was doing much better.  Phinehas Richards asked Elder Hyde if his sons, Franklin and Samuel were competent in their service as missionaries.  Elder Hyde replied that they were doing far better than ever expected.  They were respected and loved by the Saints.  He considered them the most competent of any of the missionaries in Europe.

A meeting was held.  Parley P. Pratt and Orson Hyde spoke to the congregation on morals.  Elder Pratt condemned the guard for admitting the Omaha chiefs into Winter Quarters against counsel.  Elder Hyde’s talk included this statement on death:


Brethren, the question is often asked when shall we rest from our labors.  I will tell you it will be with you as with a laboring man, who comes home at night weary and tired and lays down upon his bed to sleep.  He rests from the labors of the day, awakes in the morn refreshed but can scarcely realize that the night is gone.  So will you lay down in the grave and rest from all your labors and awake in the morn of the resurrection refreshed and full of vigor, and the time that you will sleep will appear to you as the sleep of night to the weary man.


In the evening, the High Council met at Isaac Morley’s shop to hear a case against John Richards who refused to give up some public pistols.  John D. Lee crossed over the Missouri River into Iowa and traveled to Mosquito Creek.


Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:

Mail arrived with news from San Francisco that Samuel Brannan had headed east to meet the pioneer company.  They also learned that the Saints who arrived on the Brooklyn had planted 145 acres of wheat, corn, and potatoes.



Diary of Howard Egan, Pioneering the West, 61; Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 26; “Luke S. Johnson Journal,” typescript, BYU, 10; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 15:54; Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:190‑91; William Clayton’s Journal, 202‑04; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 171‑72; Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, 1:258; Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, 145; Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 172‑73; “Journal Extracts of Henry W. Bigler,” Utah Historical Quarterly, 5:61; “Albert P. Rockwood Journal,” typescript, 45


                         Monday, May 31, 1847

On the North Platte River, Wyoming:

The morning was colder, thirty‑eight degrees.  Orson Pratt wrote:  “A very gentle breeze from the north west, with a clear blue sky and a frosty carpet of grass, renders the morning serene and pleasant.”

The cattle strayed so far that it took two hours to gather them.  The pioneer company traveled into present‑day Wyoming.  Wilford Woodruff wrote:


There are many portions of this country very barren.  We travel over several miles at a time of level prairie with little or no grass upon it.  In this ground we find great quantities of the prickly pear & they are an excellent plant to eat, though covered with thorns like needles, which have to be carefully paired off with a knife & fork.  They are quite delicious.  Have a little tart but very pleasant.


They passed what used to look like a large grove of cottonwood trees.  But the Sioux had wintered in it and cut down most of the trees.  They found and joined a wagon trail that they believed headed to Fort Laramie.  After nine and a half miles, they rested on a green flat.

In the afternoon, the pioneers traveled seven miles and camped on the bank of Rawhide Creek in two lines of wagons.  The last four miles of traveling was through deep, soft, yellow sand.51

William Clayton recorded:  “John S. Higbee has killed a deer and some of the brethren wounded two others.  This deer which Brother Higbee killed is of the long tailed species, having a tail more than a half a yard long, and is the first one I ever saw of the kind.  A while after we camped, President Young and Kimball went to the bluffs and again saw the Black Hills in the distance.  They bowed before the Lord and offered up their prayers together.”  Brother Clayton summed up the month of May with:


The month of May has passed over and we have been permitted to proceed so far on our journey, being 531 1/4 miles from our families in Winter Quarters, with the camp generally enjoying good health and good spirits, and although some things have passed which have merited chastisement, we have the privilege at the closing of the month of seeing a better feeling, a more noble spirit, and a more general desire to do right than we have before witnessed.  I feel to humble myself and give God thanks for his continued mercies to me and my brethren and may His spirit fill our hearts and may His angels administer comfort, health, peace and prosperity to all our families and all the Saints henceforth and forever.  Amen.



John D. Lee continued his journey to Missouri.  He traveled 25 miles and made camp at a point of timber that was called Point Convenience.



The Sick detachments of the Mormon Battalion crossed several rocky ridges north of Fountain Creek52 and arrived at the headwaters of Cherry Creek.


Kearny detachment of the battalion, Monterey, California:

General Stephen F. Kearny’s detachment of sixty-four men, including fifteen soldiers of the Mormon Battalion, left Monterey.  They were taking John C. Fremont back east for court-martial proceedings.  They marched fifteen miles.  This detachment had 172 horses and mules.  Joshua S. Vincent watched the detachment leave and wrote:  “It was a fine sight to see the long train of horses and mules winding around the margin of a little lake a short distance from town.”



Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:191‑92; “Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts,” Improvement Era 15:54; Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 413; William Clayton’s Journal, 204‑05; Yurtinus, Ram in the Thicket, 319; Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 171‑72; Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion, 162



1Nathaniel Thomas Brown served as a hunter in the pioneer company.  After arriving in the valley, he returned to Winter Quarters in the fall of 1847.  In 1848, he was accidentally shot and killed at Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Brigham Young was said to have remarked: “Brown’s old shoes were worth more than the whole body of the man who killed him.”

2Joseph Hancock was born in 1800, in Massachusetts.  He was a member of Zion’s Camp.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he returned to Winter Quarters in the fall.  He later settled in Provo, Utah and then moved to the east for ten years.  He died in 1893.

3This camp was located on Elm Creek, near the present‑day Elm Creek, Nebraska.

4Nelson Higgins was an officer in the Mormon Battalion. He and his wife were part of the sick detachment that spent the winter in Pueblo.

5James Davenport was born in 1802, in Vermont.  He would later be left at the ferry site on the North Platte river to do blacksmithing for Oregon emigrants.  He then returned to Winter Quarters for his family.  He later settled in Grantsville, Wellsville, and Richmond, Utah.  He died in 1885.

6William Adam Empey was born in 1808, in Canada.  Later, he would remain behind to operate the ferry on the North Platte River in Wyoming.  He later returned to Winter Quarters and brought his family to the valley in 1848.  He served a mission to England and later settled in St. George, Utah.  He died in 1890.

7William Dykes was born in 1815, in Pennsylvania.  After arriving in the valley, he returned to Winter Quarters.  He later returned to the valley but then went back east.  He died in Nebraska, in 1879.

8William Cockran Adkinson Smoot was born in 1828, in Tennessee. He was the last man of the pioneer company to enter the Salt Lake Valley. He spent the winter of 1847-48 at the fort and then moved to Canyon Creek. He later served as a missionary to the Indians in Las Vegas, Nevada. He served as the bishop of the Sugar House Ward. He later served a mission to the southern states. He was the last of the original pioneers to die. He died on January 31, 1920, at the age of 92.

9These letters were received at Winter Quarters on June 13, 1847.

10John Pack was born in 1809, in Canada.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he returned to Winter Quarters in the fall, going back to the valley in 1848.  He settled in the Seventeenth Ward where he opened his home for classes, the birth of the University of Utah.  He later helped settle Carson, Nevada.  He died in 1885.

11They tied the calf to a stake that night and by the next morning it was dead.

12George Washington Brown was born in 1827, in Ohio. After arriving to the valley, he returned to Council Bluffs and farmed in Missouri for two years. He brought his family to the valley in 1850. He died in 1906.

13Helen’s husband, Horace K. Whitney, was away with the pioneer company.

14The camp was near Willow Island, between present‑day Cozad and Gothenburg, Nebraska.

15This camp was located near present‑day Brady, Nebraska.

16The ten men were: Parley P. Pratt, Daniel Russell, John Taylor, David Boss, Daniel Spencer, Alpheus Cutler, Joseph Young, Isaac Morley, George D. Grant, and John Neff.

17The men who staked claims included James Busby, G. Arnold, Thomas Johnson, William Pace, Charles Kennedy, and George Teeples.

18John Norton was away with the pioneer company. He would later serve a mission to Australia.

19The Lewis family later crossed the plains in 1849 and settled in Parowan, Utah. James Lewis later served a mission to China. He was also the Probate judge of Iron County for ten years. The family later moved to Kanab, Utah.

20California law at that time offered a premium on Indian scalps.

21John Brown was born 1820 in Tennessee.  He served a mission in the south, baptizing a large number of converts.  He married Elizabeth Crosby in Monroe, Mississippi, and became the leader of the Church in that area.  In 1846 he led a group of 60 Saints and headed west, expecting to intercept the lead company of pioneers.  Instead, he had gone further and took the Mississippi Saints to Pueblo for the Winter.  John Brown returned to Mississippi and then joined the Saints in Winter Quarters in time to be part of the lead pioneer company.    He brought his family to the Salt Lake Valley in 1848 and settled in the Cottonwood area.  He later served as the mayor of Pleasant Grove, Utah, where he also served as the bishop of the ward for 29 years.  He died in 1897.

22John Harvey Tippets was born in 1810, in New Hampshire.  He was a member of the sick detachment of the Mormon Battalion.  He had traveled with Thomas Woolsey back to Winter Quarters.  He would later help guide the battalion members from Pueblo to the Salt Lake Valley.  He later returned to Winter Quarters in the fall and brought his family to the valley in the spring.  They settled in Salt Lake City.  He served a mission to England and then settled in Springville, and then Farmington, Utah.  He died in 1890. 

23Those chosen for this escort company were: John W. Binley, Samuel G. Clark, Amos Cox, Matthew Caldwell, Gilman Gordon, Sylvester Hulet, Thomas C. Ivie, Nathaniel V. Jones, Ebenezer Landers, William F. Reynolds, Joseph Taylor, Elanson Tuttle, William W. Spencer, Charles Y. Webb, and Jeremiah Willey.

24Sylvester Henry Earl was born in 1815, in Ohio.  He brought his family to Utah in 1851 and moved to the Nineteen Ward.  He served a mission to England.  Later he purchased a sawmill at Pine Valley, on the Santa Clara River.  He died in 1873.

25This indicates that their camp was located across from the present‑day city of North Platte, Nebraska.

26More than forty‑five years later, Wilford Woodruff would dedicate the Salt Lake Temple.

27Aaron Freeman Farr was born in 1818, in Vermont.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he returned and helped guide the second pioneer company to the valley.  He was an attorney and helped establish the city government.  He served a mission to the West Indies and later presided over the St. Louis Branch for a time.  He practiced law in Ogden, Utah.  He served as a probate judge and an alderman.  He died in 1903.

28Joseph Smith Schofield was born in 1809, in New York.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he helped build homes and public buildings.  He assisted in the building of the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Theatre, and other buildings.  He died in 1875.

29Eric Glines was born in 1822, in New Hampshire.  He would later remain at the North Platte Ferry crossing contrary to counsel, but later rejoined the pioneers.  Still later, he would be sent back as a guide for the second pioneer company.  After arriving at the Salt Lake Valley, he later went to California and settled in Sacramento Valley.  He died in 1881.

30Edson Whipple was born in 1805, in Vermont.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he farmed for Heber C. Kimball and raised 400 bushels of grain.  He was a member of the first High Council.  He later helped settle Parowan, Utah, and later moved to Provo, Utah.  He died in 1894.

31The Riggs family would later settle in Provo, Utah.

32It measured about four and a half feet long and had seven rattles.

33Return Jackson Redden was born in 1817, in Ohio.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he returned to Winter Quarters in the fall.  The following year he brought his family to the valley.  He settled in Grantsville and the Coalsville, Utah, where he owned a coal mine.   Later he helped settle Hoytsville, Utah and served as justice of the peace.  He died in 1891.

34The site for their camp is today covered by the waters of Lake McConaughy.

35Thomas Grover was born in 1807, in New York.  He would later be assigned captain of the North Platte Ferry.  He stayed behind to help operate it.   He joined the second pioneer company and later moved to Centerville, Utah.  He served three terms in the Utah legislature and was probate judge of Davis County.  He served a mission to the Eastern States in 1874-75.  He died in 1886.

36The Stoker family later settled in Bountiful, Utah, where John served as the bishop of the East Bountiful Ward.

37George R. Grant was born in 1820, in New York.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he returned to Winter Quarters and then went back to Utah in 1848.  He settled in Kaysville.  In 1855, he was sent to establish the Salmon River Mission to the Indians in Idaho.  He later moved to Carson City, Nevada.  He died in 1889.

38Orson K. Whitney was born in 1830, in Kirtland, Ohio.  He was the son of Bishop Newel K. Whitney.  He traveled in the pioneer company with his brother, Horace K. Whitney.  In 1852, Orson was called on a mission to Hawaii.  He was known as an adventurous frontiersman.  He died in 1884.

39Nathaniel Fairbanks was born in 1823, in New York.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he returned toward Winter Quarters and met his brother, Jonathan in the second company.  They went together to the valley.  In 1853, while driving a herd of cattle from Salt Lake City to Sacramento, he was thrown from a mule and drowned while crossing a river.

40Brother Fairbanks and some other men had been teasing a snake, making it mad. Within a half hour, he received his bite from another snake.

41Tarlton Lewis was born in 1805, in South Carolina.  After arriving in Salt Lake, he supervised the construction of the fort.  He returned to Winter Quarters in the fall to get his family.  He was later called to serve as bishop in Parowan, Utah.  He discovered lead and iron near Beaver and opened a mine there.  In 1877, he served as the bishop in Richfield, Utah.  He died in 1890.

42Shadrach Roundy was born in 1789, in Vermont.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he returned and met the second pioneer company.  He then traveled with them back to the valley.  He was a member of the first High Council.  He was the first bishop of the Sixteenth Ward.  He was one of the founders of Z.C.M.I.  He died in 1872.

43John S. Higbee was born in 1804, in Ohio.  He later would stay behind to help operate the ferry on the North Platte.  He then traveled with this family in the second pioneer company to the Salt Lake Valley.  In 1849, he helped settle Provo, Utah, and served as president of the Provo Branch.  He later served a mission to England.  He moved to Toquerville, Utah and died in 1877.

44Addison Everett was born in 1805, in New York.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he returned in the fall and met his family traveling west with the second company at the Sweetwater.  He traveled with them to the valley.  He later helped build Fort Supply in Wyoming.  He served as bishop in the Eighth Ward in Salt Lake City.  He helped build the St. George Temple and died in 1885.

45He brought with him material that would later be used to make a flag which would fly in the Salt Lake Valley.

46Several of the Mississippi Saints families had earlier left Pueblo and were already at Fort Laramie.

47George Pierce Billings was born in 1827, in Kirtland, Ohio.  He drove a wagon for Heber C. Kimball.  George Billings later went to California in search of gold.  He found it, went to Mexico and bought livestock, and they all died as he was bringing them to Utah.  He later helped settle Carson Valley, Nevada.  He moved to Manti and helped build the temple.  He died in 1896.

48Carlos Murray, was born in 1829 in New York, a nephew of Heber C. Kimball.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he returned to Winter Quarters in the fall.  He later went to California in 1855.  While traveling on the California Trail in Nevada, he was killed by Indians.

49They camped at Prayer Circle Bluffs, near the Nebraska‑Wyoming state line, not far from present‑day Henry, Nebraska.

50Albert Carrington was born in 1813, in Vermont.  After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he headed a committee to draft a constitution for the state of Deseret.  He was editor of the Deseret News from 1854-59 and 1863-69.  He was secretary to Brigham Young for 20 years and was president of the European mission three times.  In 1870, he was ordained an apostle and served as a counselor to Brigham Young.  He died in 1889.

51Their camp was east of present‑day Lingle, Wyoming.

52Near present‑day Colorado Springs.