Sunday June 4 - Saturday, June 10, 1848
On Sunday, Charles C. Rich addressed the Saints in their Sabbath meeting. Discouragement had set in because of the plague of crickets. Priddy Meeks recalled:
"While preaching, he says, 'Brotherin, we do not want you to part with your wagons and teams, for we might need them.' Intimating that he did not know, but we might have to leave. That increased my solemnity. At that instant, I heard the voice of fowles flying overhead, that I was not acquainted with. I looked up and saw a flock of seven gulls. In a few minutes there was another larger flock passed over. They came fast and more of them untill the heavens were darkened with them, and lit down in the valley till the earth was black with them, and they would eat crickets and throw them up again and fill themselves again and right away throw them up again. A little before sundown, they left for Salt Lake, for they roosted on a sand bar. A little after sunrise in the morning, they came back again and continued that course untill they had devoured the crickets. . . . I guess this circumstance changed our feeling considerable for the better."
John R. Young remembered the gulls: "There must have been thousands of them. Their coming was like a great cloud; and when they passed between us and the sun, a shadow covered the field. I could see the gulls settling for more than a mile around us. They were very tame, coming within four or five rods of us. At first we thought that they, also were after the wheat, and this thought added to our terror; but we soon discovered that they devoured only the crickets. . . . As I remember it, the gulls came every morning for about three weeks, when their mission was apparently ended, and they ceased coming. The precious crops were saved."
Mary Isabella Horne testified: "Just as sure as the Lord sent quail to feed the children of Israel in the wilderness, so sure am I He sent gulls to save our crops in this barren valley, where we were one thousand miles from any supplies in the East, and seven hundred miles from the west. We must have starved if the Lord had not sent us deliverance."
On Friday a group of men returned from California.
Hundreds of Saints started their week camped on the banks of the Elkhorn river. [The entire 1848 pioneer company would eventually number about 2,400] During the night, wolves had kept them awake with their howling, causing all the dogs in the camp to join in. On Sunday a Sabbath meeting was held near Brigham Young's camp. Speakers included President Young, Erastus Snow, and others. Several children were blessed by Patriarch Isaac Morley.
On Monday, more of enormous pioneer company moved out from the Elkhorn, heading for the Platte River. Hosea Stout wrote: "The line of waggons was very long." Thomas Bullock related the tale of a serious accident: "Sister Lucy Groves, age 41, Wife of Elisha H. Groves, who was sick -- vomiting out of the front of the Wagon -- on passing a deep rut in the road, the oxen gave a sudden gee, which jerked her out of the Wagon. The front wheels of the Wagon ran over her breasts & shoulders. Brother Groves seized her to pull her from under the Wagon but before he could accomplish it, the hind wheel ran over her right leg just above the Ancle & broke it in two. Dr. Sprague put splinters & set it, when the Wagon again went on."
Brigham Young reached the Platte later on Monday. A total of 190 wagons and carriages camped there for the night. Throughout the week, the pioneers continued their journey slowly to the west. In the evening they would conclude their day with song and prayer. On Friday Thomas Bullock reported: "Oliver Duncan, a little boy about 14 while standing on the Wagon Tongue driving -- on striking one of his Cattle, his foot slipped, the fore wheel ran over his leg & broke it in two. Dr. Sprague set it as soon as he could -- he also reports Sister Groves going on as well as could be expected. She rides in a swing all day. The health of the Camp [is] generally good, but there are some few sick."
On Friday, Heber C. Kimball's company departed from the Elkhorn. It consisted of: "662 souls, 226 wagons, 57 horses, 25 mules, 737 oxen, 284 cows, 150 loose cattle, 243 sheep, 96 pigs, and 299 chickens."
On Saturday, Brigham Young's company passed by the location where the Pawnee Indians had their village the previous year. They pressed on and camped on the Loup Fork, near Looking Glass Creak, about 95 miles from Winter Quarters. The pioneer's circle of wagons was huge. Hosea Stout estimated that it enclosed about ten to fifteen acres.
Back in Winter Quarters, Elder Wilford Woodruff visited with Willard Richards who had been sick for months. Elder Richards was planning on joining the pioneer company, but had to be left behind because of his illness. The two brethren discussed his situation and Elder Woodruff discussed ways in which he could help Elder Richards join the pioneer trek. Many of the families who remained were vacating Winter Quarters, moving across the Missouri River, into Iowa.
Smart, Mormon Midwife, 114 Hart, "'The Miracle of the Gulls'", Church News, May 16, 1998 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 1, p.124 Memoirs of John R. Young, 65-66 George Morris Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.60 Bagley, 1848 Trail Journal of Thomas Bullock Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:314 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:351
Orrin Porter Rockwell had returned the previous week from California, bringing back with him twenty-five discharged veterans of the Mormon Battalion. He also delivered 135 mules. On Sunday he appeared before the High Council to respond to charges of desertion from John Hunt's party returning from California. Rockwell had instead chosen to take the southern route back. The charges were dismissed.
On Sunday morning, the enormous pioneer company of 1848 rested along the banks of the Loup Fork. The sisters washed clothes, some of the brethren fished, others herded the cattle, and some of the leaders scouted the road ahead. At noon, a meeting was held in the center of the corral. Later in the afternoon assignments were made to mend the bridges ahead.
On Monday, the pioneer company continued up Loup Fork, crossing various creeks. Further up the river, near the Old Pawnee village, an accident took place. Nine-year-old Mary Ann Perkins, daughter of Wilson G. Perkins, was run over by a 2,500 pound wagon. It ran over her chest. The brethren quickly administered to her and in about an hour she fell asleep, free from pain. No bones were broken. Brother Perkins was very thankful and felt that they had witnessed a miracle.
On Tuesday, Brigham Young reached the Old Pawnee Village and continued on. Antelope were seen for the first time. Strong winds on Wednesday prevented the pioneers from making camp fires until the evening. Brigham Young sheared his sheep because the barbed grass kept getting stuck in the wool, disturbing the sheep. Each morning at 3 a.m., the cattle were turned out of the circle of wagons, to graze.
On Thursday, Brigham Young's company forded across Loup Fork. Each wagon took about sixteen minutes to make the trip across. They were pulled over by four to eight yoke of cattle. A letter was received from Heber C. Kimball's company which was about one day's journey behind. During the previous week that company had come in contact with a band of Omaha Indians. Brothers Howard Egan and Thomas E. Ricks were wounded. Brother Egan was shot in the wrist, and Brother Ricks was struck in the back with a ball and buckshot. Four Indians were killed in the battle. An Ox was killed and stolen.
Dr. Sprague reported that Sister Groves was still very sick from the wounds received from being run over by a wagon during the previous week. On Friday, poor weather arrived. Thomas Bullock wrote: "Elder Kimball's Company appeared on the North bank of the River about 2 p.m. They formed the Caral when another tremendous storm set in for the whole eve [and] the wind roared that it almost drowned the noise of the thunder. Each time that the herd was brought in to day it rained to wet me through [so] that I had to change 3 times."
On Saturday, after Heber C. Kimball's company arrived safely across Loup Fork, the pioneers continued their journey. They traveled in four columns. Because there would be no water for twenty-three miles, it was decided to make an exception, and plan to travel on the next day -- Sunday. By the week's end, the pioneers were about 140 miles from Winter Quarters.
On Wednesday, Wilford Woodruff crossed over from Kanesville and visited with Willard Richards. Elder Woodruff wrote: "Just as we landed the blowing of the bugle & rush to arms & report that Indians were coming upon the people created quite an excitement in the place. About 80 men assembled together but were in a poor state for an attack. But no Indians came." Members of the Twelve addressed the gathering on the need to be well prepared for Indian attacks. It was decided that the men would meet each evening for to drill.
During the week there was an accident at the ferry. As the ferry was being taken up the river in preparation for making the crossing, one of the boatmen was knocked overboard and struggled for his life. Captain Hewitt jumped overboard to save him, but he started to drown to. A Pawnee Indian jumped into the river and rescued them both.
Dewey, Porter Rockwell, 147 Bagley, 1848 Trail Journal of Thomas Bullock Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:315 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 351-52
GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH:
On Sunday, at the public Sabbath meeting, Elder John Taylor preached to the Saints in the valley. On Saturday, the High Council passed some resolutions for the safety of the community and to further control the cattle. It was decided that every person who owned a well should put up a wall around it at least two feet high. All cattle north of Big Cotton Wood Canyon and east of Jordan river were to be secured each night, and not allowed to run stray. The High Council wrote a letter which was being taken east to Brigham Young. It reported: "There has been a large amount of spring crops put in, and they were doing well till within a few days the crickets have done considerable damage both to wheat and corn, which has discouraged some, but there is plenty left if we can save it for a few days. The sea gulls have come in large flocks from the lake and sweep the crickets as they go; it seems the hand of the Lord in our favor. Orrin P. Rockwell has just arrived from California in company with Captain Davis, and after he rests a few days intends to go to meet you."
BETWEEN LOUP FORK AND PLATTE RIVER, NEBRASKA:
A morning meeting was held on the prairie between Heber C. Kimball's and Lorenzo Snow's camps. The pioneers were addressed by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and others. It started to rain after the meeting, and this halted any travel plans. Thomas Bullock constructed a "mail box" left for the Willard Richards company which would be arriving many days later. [Willard Richards' company would leave Winter Quarters on July 3.] In the box, he put extracts from his journal. It was learned that a child of Jehu Cox was killed by being run over by a wagon during the previousweek. On Monday, the pioneers moved out at 7:40 a.m., rolling in three columns. They took a new route up a hill and across some sand dunes which made traveling difficult. An ox belonging to John Alger laid down and died. Thomas Bullock wrote about a miracle. "Before our halt at noon Archibald Williams drove his Wagon over a sick Sheep. Both wheels passed over his body. Brother John Hughes picked it up, laid hands on it, when it walked away apparently well. It was to me a miracle to see it stand up, much more walk away." In the evening, they continued to travel by moonlight. They halted for the night and dug some wells for water. On Tuesday, the pioneers descended to the Platte River bottoms. There, they found soft ground with tall grass. They crossed Prairie Creek. The hundred of wagons in lines looked impressive. Thomas Bullock wrote: "[Kimball's] train of Wagons reaches to the hills and appears an army. The entire Camps with banners flying appear like an Army terrible with banners, & would prove so to any Company of Gentiles. It is a busy bustling Camp and proves that Israel is in existence in very deed." On Wednesday, Matilda Lewis, daughter of Tarlton Lewis stumbled as she was getting out of a moving wagon. The wagon wheel grazed her leg and foot, but no bones were broken. John D. Lee found a boy who had wandered from his company and hurt his foot. Brother lee picked him up, bound the injured foot, and carried him to his father. The boy had been missing overnight and his father was overjoyed. On Thursday, the weather was drizzly. Hosea Stout noted: "Had to use the Bois de vache or Buffalo chips for fuel which were damp which made rather an unfavorable impression on our women relative to being entirely confined to them before we get to our journey's end." On Friday they crossed through a large prairie dog town which was several miles long. Many of the brethren tried their sport at trying to shoot the little critters but were not successful. Isaac Morley Jr. did kill a goose. On Saturday Thomas Bullock stepped in a prairie dog hole. "I had a narrow escape of breaking my leg [by] dropping down in a large Dog hole to my knee while walking. [It] pained me, but the Lord preserved me." The pioneers ended their week's journey and camped near Buffalo Creek, about 230 miles from Winter Quarters. It was near this location where the 1847 pioneer company had their first buffalo hunt. After the camp was formed, Brigham Young gathered the leaders together. Wiley Norton had been caught asleep on guard duty, during the previous night. Since it was his first offense, the case was dismissed. Brigham Young spoke about the duties of the guard and even volunteered himself for the duty.
A meeting was held in the Tabernacle. Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, Orson Hyde, and George A. Smith addressed with the congregation. The brethren left their blessings with Elder Woodruff, who was about to leave for his mission. He wrote: "Br Richards blessed & said the spirit & power of God should rest upon me on this mission that I should saw in the end that it was one of the best missions I ever took that no power should prevail against me." On Wednesday he started his journey with Dominicas Carter, heading west across Iowa toward Garden Grove. In nearly deserted Winter Quarters, Amasa M. Lyman called together the remaining brethren, inspected their arms and encouraged them to all camp together for safety. They should prepare quickly to start their journey to the valley.
PLEASANT VALLEY, CALIFORNIA:
During the week, Mormon Battalion veterans began to gather at a rendezvous point about fifty miles west of Sutter's Fort, to organize into a company to travel to the Salt Lake Valley. Addison Pratt, who had returned from his mission to Tahiti (Society Islands), was going to make this journey across the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Addison Pratt wrote about his feelings: "When I was at work the year before on the Stanislaus, these mountains were in plain sight, and ranged along the horizon from the north to the southeast, untill they were lost in the distance. They were white with snow all summer long, and look'd like a majestic row of thunderpillows. And I often gazed at them, and when I thought that they had got to be cross'd before my family and I could meet, horrific feelings would come over me that is more easily felt than described."Some of these travelers became impatient for the others to gather at Pleasant Valley [southeast of today's Placerville], and went on ahead. Three men, Daniel Browett, Ezra H. Allen, and Henderson Cox, were sent ahead as scouts. [Henderson Cox was the older brother of the child who was run over by the wagon...see above. In just a few days, Henerson Cox would also die.]
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.111 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 343 Bagley, 1848 Trail Journal of Thomas Bullock Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:315-16Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 353-54 Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 108-09Brooks, John Doyle Lee, 133
Great Salt Lake City, Utah:
On Saturday Parley P. Pratt reported on his exploration of "Parley's Park" and felt that a shorter route could be made for emigrants to travel from the Weber River to the valley. The Council appointed Daniel Spencer, John Van Cott, Parley P. Pratt, and Albert Carrington, to serve on a committee to investigate a new route for the emigrating Saints. Archibald Gardner was authorized to call men together "to work the road up Mill Creek Canyon and to see that no one wastes or monopolizes the timber, and that those who work have a reasonable number of logs for their labor."
** See a list of the 1848 pioneers at
On Sunday the pioneers held a meeting at 6 p.m. on the prairie. Several of the brethren spoke. It was decided to remain at that location until Heber C. Kimball's company arrived. Dr. Sprague reported that the health of the camp was good, no serious illnesses. Two people with broken legs were mending well.
While the pioneers waited on Monday, some of the men spent the day resetting their wagon tires and the women worked at washing and cooking. In the evening the company captains met at Brigham Young's wagon for it meetings. They discussed improving traveling practices to avoid dust and to get along better as a company. Brigham Young instructed that all the fires were to be out by 9 p.m. Thomas Bullock noted: "[W. W.] Phelps the Story Teller told a Story about the Lion, Fox, Wolf & other beasts, [with] much amusement made, [and] all satisfied. [We] separated about 10. A sprinkling of rain thro' the evening."
During Monday night, Seth Dodge was discovered asleep on guard duty. In the morning a trial was held. His sentence was: "he may take his choice whether he goes on duty to night, or confesses to Brother Brigham that he has done wrong and will do it no more." [He would choose to stand guard for an additional night rather than face President Young.]
Heber C. Kimball's company arrived at noon on Tuesday. It was a wonderful reunion. Lorenzo Snow's company moved out but the rest remained in camp. An evening meeting was held to discuss appointing herdsman and hunters. Men were not to leave their teams to go hunting. The pioneers enjoyed the evening and participated in singing.
On Wednesday, all the pioneer companies were in motion. They passed by a point of timber and saw the remains of an Indian encampment including many buffalo skins and bones. They traveled along Ptah Lake. The trails left by buffalo shook the wagons as they crossed over them. At 11:30 a.m., they had their first glimpse of buffalo on the south side of the Platte River. After halting for the day, two men tried to cross the river to go after the buffalo, but the water was too deep and they had to turn back. Later, a team of five men were successful in killing five of the beasts. Duff Potter brought back a tongue, but they left the rest of the meat to be wasted. Thomas Bullock commented that this was "a wicked destruction of life and scores in the Camp wanting meat to eat this day."
On Friday, several buffalo were killed and brought back to camp. Some hunters still were killing buffalo for sport and only bringing back the choice cuts of meat. Hosea Stout commented: "The hunting fever seized on the brethren and they, regardless of the previous arrangements, to let hunters kill our meat, often ran and left their teams pursuing & shooting at the buffalo all day. Many were killed & left out, & but few brought into camp."
During the day, the pioneers passed the junction of the North and South Forks of the Platte and headed up the North Fork. They saw fifty buffalo during their journey. Broth Stout wrote about the country: "Our road was over sandy bluffs which came up to the river. We are now fairly into the buffalo range. Swarms & herds of which are in sight all the time. The range looks like an old pasture field, the grass all fed off close."
On Friday evening, a skunk visited the camp. It crawled under one of the wagons. Brother Stout wrote: "We endeavored to drive it away without exciting it but knowing the power it held over us seemed perfectly tame while we had only to deal mildly with it. At length it went under Judge Phelps waggon & laid down in his harness where we were obliged to let it be in peace."
On Saturday, they saw thousands of buffalo which "moved as black clouds in the prairie." Brigham Young reproved the camp for their recklessness, running after buffalo. He said he would have nothing more to do with it, that the men could do as they pleased since they did not seem to want to follow previous arrangements for hunting.
They ended the week camped at some timber near the North Platte, west of Carrion Creek. This would be the last timber they would see on this side of the river for two hundred miles. They were about 300 miles from Winter Quarters and about 730 miles from the Salt Lake Valley.
On Thursday, Amasa M. Lyman's company departed from Winter Quarters.
On Tuesday Wilford Woodruff arrived in Mount Pisgah. Orson Hyde also arrived. The two apostles addressed a congregation that gathered. They spoke words of reprovement and encouraged the Saints to stay away from sin. While there, the brethren reorganized the Mount Pisgah Branch and appointed Edwin Whiting as the president. On Thursday, Elder Woodruff arrived at Garden Grove. The following day a meeting was held with the Saints there. These Saints were living the gospel faithfully. The spirit was strong during the meeting.
Mormon Battalion veterans continued to gather at Pleasant Valley [southeast of today's Placerville] to organize a company to travel to the Salt Lake Valley. While waiting, some of the men tried their luck prospecting for gold in nearby streams and had good success. Others traveled to the gold mines to have their tires on their wagons set by blacksmiths and to do some last minute searching for gold.
Daniel Browett, Ezra H. Allen, and Henderson Cox had gone on ahead to scout the road ahead. On Tuesday June 27, probably at night, the three men were attacked and killed by Indians. They were stripped of their clothes, mutilated, and buried in shallow graves.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.111 Bagley, A Road From El Dorado, 16-17. Bagley, 1848 Trail Journal of Thomas Bullock Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 108 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:316-17 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:354-55