The Saints met in a conference to sustain their leaders. John Smith was sustained president of the stake of Zion in Great Salt Lake City. Charles C. Rich and John Young were chosen as his counselors. John Smith, the uncle of the prophet Joseph Smith, was also sustained patriarch of the Church. Brigham Young was sustained as the president of the whole Church. The High Council was sustained. Albert Carrington was chosen as clerk, historian, and deputy postmaster for the city. John Van Cott was elected city marshal.
The first meeting of the Great Salt Lake City High Council was held in the evening on Monday. John Smith presided. The High Council discussed building a mill on City Creek or Mill Creek. A group of men making up a “Mill Company” desired to build a mill on Mill Creek. There was some concern that this location was too far south, and could be subject to attacks by the Indians. A committee was formed later in the week to investigate mill sites. During the week, the High Council considered several cases. Joseph Thorn was called before the Council because he had not performed blacksmithing during the pioneer journey. He was required to pay for blacksmithing work that had been charged to his company and performed by others. A number of men, led by William Weeks had moved their families to the north, near present‑day Ogden without the approval of the Council. Later in the week an order was drafted to have these families return to the city.
On Wednesday, Joseph Thorn left to take his family back to Winter Quarters. Apparently he was dissatisfied with the valley and decided to return, even this later in the season. [The Thorns would arrive in Winter Quarters on December 18.]
On Thursday, Tarlton Lewis and Elijah Newman were appointed to make gates for the fort. The Friday High Council meeting minutes included: “Matters pertaining to the building of the Fort were discussed. Henry G. Sherwood proposed to run a line north and south through both Forts and build on both sides of it. It was decided to build the inside with timber after the outer walls were filled, on Henry G. Sherwood's plan of north and south lines.” On Saturday, Henry G. Sherwood, Albert Carrington, and Charles C. Rich were appointed to a committee to draft laws for the city.
On Tuesday, near Ash Hollow, the company found a message board stuck in the ground which informed them that the “ox team company” was about a week's journey ahead of them. A group of ten men, led by Amasa Lyman, were sent ahead on foot to overtake this company to ask them to wait for Brigham Young's company because their horses were breaking down. The grass was drying out, making it poor feed for the horses. Thomas Bullock wrote: “The sun sets with a great appearance for Windy Weather. A Bat is seen flitting about the camp, after sun set. This creature has been seldom seen on our journey. At night we have a grand solo, quartet & chorus from the throats of a very musical band of wolves, the serenading being continued thro' the entire night.”
On Thursday, the returning pioneers met Joseph Walker (a former guide for John C. Fremont in California) Mr. Pappan (the proprietor at Fort Laramie), and six others heading west. These men relayed news that five hundred U.S. troops would be stations near Winter Quarters during the winter. In the spring they would move to Grand Island and build a fort. Other forts were planned at Laramie and on the Green River to protect Oregon emigrants. The brethren sent letters with Walker to be taken to the Salt Lake valley. A letter to Samuel Brannan included: “Out camp is in good health & spirit. We met the emigrating camps between Green & Sweetwater well and before this they are directly safe at the valley. They had 566 waggons & souls in proportion well provided with bread, and very happy. The weather is very find.”
On Friday, the brethren saw a huge herd of Elk. Several of the men took their guns in pursuit, but only killed one. By Saturday, the company reached North Bluffs Fork, about 320 miles from Winter Quarters. They had traveled one hundred miles during the week. That night, Horace K. Whitney wrote: “My pony, continuing to fail rapidly, tonight I turned him loose, considering that it was as well for him to live and be stolen by the Indians, as to die by starvation among us.”
During the week this company traveled about 103 miles closer to Winter Quarters, and ended the week near the head of Grand Island, 215 miles from their destination. On Friday, the lead portion of the group had some trouble with some Indians. Just as the brethren started out in the morning, twelve to fifteen Indians ran toward the wagons from the river. They scattered through the company, shook hands, but looked hostile. Four oxen were not yet yoked up. The Indians drove them away from the wagons and boldly stole Jackson Redden's horse from behind a wagon.
William Clayton recorded: “[Brother] Lamb went to take it from them and seized the lariat which another immediately cut with his knife. Lamb then got on the horse, but no sooner on than two Indians pulled him off and marched off with the horse. They stole Jack Redding's knife out of its sheath and one from John Pack. They also tried to get Jack off the horse he was riding, but he kept his seat. They tried Skeen's horse but he kicked one of them over. The Indians then tried to get the men out of their wagons so that they might get in and plunder, but every man kept in his wagon to guard it and we concluded to turn about and go back to the main company.” So the Indians went off with a horse, four oxen, two knives, and a sack of salt. Later, the oxen were recovered. Throughout the company, there were many words of criticism and contention. Brother Clayton recorded: “For my part, I shall be glad when I get in more peaceable society, and I think I shall not easily be caught in such a scrape again.”
On Saturday, the men came in contact with a U.S. soldier who reported that there were ninety other soldiers exploring and surveying for a place to build a fort on Grand Island. He warned the brethren that a large band of dangerous Pawnee was forty miles down the river.
Phinehas Young and three others returned to Winter Quarters from the west. At a Winter Quarters meeting on Sunday, he relayed information given to him that the pioneers had found their new home! He said they found a valley, laid out a city, and built an adobe wall. Later in the day, a cannon shot was heard in the direction of the Elkhorn. It was thought that it must be the Twelve returning from the valley, firing a shot to signal their approach. Hosea Stout was sent to investigate, but found nothing. Later in the week news was received that U.S. troops had marched from Fort Kearny to Grand Island for reasons unknown. This news worried the High Council. They decided to send a company of sixteen horsemen, led by Hosea Stout, to go meet the returning pioneers and to provide protection for them. This company left Winter Quarters on Friday. By Saturday they arrived at the liberty pole on the Platte River.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.89‑91; William Clayton's Journal, 370‑72; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:279‑82; Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 204‑06; Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1847‑1850, 72; Holzapfel, A Woman's View, 472; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 277‑79
The High Council had to deal with some disputes. A bull belonging to Beeson Lewis gave out about one hundred miles before arriving at the valley. Brother Seeley had later brought the recovered animal to the valley and demanded payment for the service. Ira Miles and Isaac Chase argued over ownership of a barrel of flour. On Monday, Marshal John Van Cott reported that the William Weeks group, who had moved north to the Weber River, agreed to return. They had used harsh words and felt that it was an unfair request, but said they would return.
On Monday and Tuesday, some Mormon Battalion soldiers arrived from California. On Wednesday, the High Council approved a site to build a mill on City Creek. They also approved a request by Brother Gardner to build a sawmill near the Warm Spring.
On Saturday, more Mormon Battalion soldiers arrived from California. William Pace wrote: “The 15th the weather pleasant, we traveled twenty‑five miles down the Valley; and encamped at Perygreens Sessions camp where he was a herding Cattle about ten miles above the Salt Lake settlement; found them all well, & busy a building houses & progressing and preparing for the winter.”
The company slowly continued their journey east. On Tuesday, Brigham Young asked Wilford Woodruff's opinion whether the First Presidency should again be organized. Elder Woodruff recorded: “I answered that a quorum like the Twelve who had been appointed by revelation & confirmed by revelation from time to time, I thought it would require a revelation to change the order of that quorum.” But he told President Young that he would follow after any action that was inspired from the Lord.
On Wednesday, several more horses gave out. On Friday during the noon rest, through carelessness, Solomon Chamberlain set the prairie on fire. Forty men worked hard and finally put it out. On Saturday, Amasa Lyman and the advance group returned. They had given up hope to overtake the Ox Team Company but had sent two men, Stephen H. Goddard and Ezekiel Kellogg ahead. The brethren were convinced that the Ox Team Company was in rebellion for not following instructions. Brigham Young's company ended the week at Buffalo Creek, 232 miles from Winter Quarters.
The company voted on whether they should wait a few days to wait for the Twelve, or press on to Winter Quarters. They decided to continue on. They arrived at Loup Fork on Wednesday. The weather turned very cold. On Thursday they crossed Loup Fork and were greeted by Hosea Stout and the guard, who were going on to meet the Twelve. William Clayton wrote: “We were gladdened with the news they bring from Winter Quarters.
On Saturday, the returning company arrived at the Pawnee Mission. Brother Clayton recorded: “We found the Pawnees busy gathering corn, probably nearly a thousand of men, women and children. They soon began to come to the wagons and their chiefs made inquiries by signs about the Chirrarots or Sioux. Some of the brethren gave them to understand that the Sioux were within five days of them. The chief immediately gave the word to the rest and in half an hour the squaws had loaded their corn on ponies and mules and then began to march towards the river. They show great fear of the Sioux. They were very anxious to have us camp with them tonight but we kept moving on.” They camped on Beaver River, 104 miles from Winter Quarters.
As the guard traveled west on Monday, they became drenched in the rain. Hosea Stout recorded: “We now found we had not prepared ourselves with bedding enough. We were all wet and cold all night but by keeping a good fire we did not suffer extreemly.” On Thursday, at Loup Fork, he wrote: “While drawing near the ford we discovered a white man on the other side of the river which was soon followed by a long train of waggons which we soon knew to be brethren. So we drew up in order & fired a salute to them which gave them to know who we were.... Out meeting of course was joyful for we now got to hear from the valley.” Hosea Stout was appalled to hear that the Ox Team Company had not waited for the Twelve, who they knew had lost many horses. Jackson Redden agreed to guide the guard back to the Twelve.
Brother Stout was very worried. “Tonight was the most sad and gloomy time which we had. Not knowing where the Twelve and those with them were or what had become of them. Perhaps they were broke down, & robbed of all their animals and now near Laramie coming slow afoot. Distressed & nearly exhausted. We sat pondering over these things. Some of our own company were sick.” They received comfort that night when Bishop Calkins spoke in tongues and they were assured that the Lord was with them and they would find the Twelve safe.
On Saturday, they were pleased to meet Stephen H. Goddard and Ezekiel Kellogg, who were part of the advance group trying to overtake the “ox team company.” The two men were starving. The guard quickly gave them food and then they all pressed on toward the west.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.91‑4;William Clayton's Journal, 372‑75; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 280‑82; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:282‑84; Bagley, The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 311‑12; Smart, Mormon Midwife, 101‑02
On Sunday, John Taylor and Jedediah M. Grant preached to the Saints. On Monday, some of the Mormon Battalion soldiers who had recently arrived from California, continued their journey toward Winter Quarters. The Saints in the valley gave the men items to help them along their way. Patty Sessions gave one of the men a comforter and a pair of mittens. Others gave them flour, crackers, dried beef, and butter.
The High Council appointed a committee to choose a site for a cemetery. On Tuesday, it was decided that Shadrach Roundy would make sure that the water on the east side of the fort stayed in its channel. Lorenzo Dow Young sowed the first acre of wheat in the valley.
The returning pioneers realized that they would not see any more buffalo for the rest of the journey. Because they were low on meat, it was thought wise to send a hunting party back a few miles to obtain more meat. A party of twelve, including Wilford Woodruff, traveled back ten miles with wagons.
The hunters killed two buffalo and that evening satisfied their hunger by having a feast of roasted bones. Wilford Woodruff wrote: “The leg bones are filled with marrow more choice than butter & yield a great quantity which we roasted & drank the melted marrow without bread. We should have made a delightful picture for an artist to have drawn the scenery around our fireside.” On Monday, they killed nine buffalo, two of which were claimed by wolves.
At the main camp on Monday, the brethren decided to resume their journey. Thomas Woolsey was sent back to ask the hunters to return. Later in the morning, Hosea Stout arrived into camp with his company of fifteen guards, Stephen Markham and Ezekiel Kellog (who had been sent ahead) and Jackson Redden (of the Ox Team Company.) Hosea Stout recorded that when they first reached the wagon train, many of the men did not recognize them. “We marched fast passing many who did not know us until we met the Twelve when we halted & every man ran to greet his friends. It is useless for me to attempt to describe this meeting. The whole of us was in a perfect extacy of joy & gladness. They [the returning pioneers] were won down with fatigue and hunger with many an anxious thought on home and the welfare of their families & the church.”
Thomas Bullock wrote: “After saluting, hugging & blessing each other for some time, we continued our route thro' the Dog Town & camped on the banks of the Platte.” Hosea Stout and some of the guard continued on to help the hunters return safely to camp.
Thomas Woolsey arrived to the hunters' camp on Monday afternoon and instructed them to return to the main camp. As they were preparing to return on Tuesday, they saw men mounted on horses riding toward them at great speed. First it was feared that they were Indians, then it was thought that they were troops. The hunters stood ready with their guns to meet them. But to their delight, it turned out to be Hosea Stout and some of his guard.
Hosea Stout and the guard had been having a little fun with the hunters, by charging toward them. He wrote: “We took this advantage of them and charged on them . . . . They kept good order until we got within a few rods of them when Amasa Lyman recognizing me broke ranks & ran to me, calling me by names which broke the charm.”
The hunters treated the guard to a feast of meat, the “first pure hunters meal” Hosea Stout had ever eaten. During the breakfast, they asked members of the guard many questions about Winter Quarters and their families. Wilford Woodruff wrote: “They were truly welcome messengers & like angels unto us. It was truly like good news from a far country to hear from our families & friends once more.” The hunters arrived at the main camp in the evening.
All week the pioneers traveled and by Saturday arrived at Loup Fork, about 130 miles from Winter Quarters.
On Tuesday, William Clayton wrote: “The night was excessively cold and this morning there is considerable ice. We got an early start and traveled to where the road leaves the river and crosses to the Horn. At this place there is a liberty pole set up by some of the brethren. We have traveled today twenty‑three and a quarter miles and we now find that the grass is all burned off ahead of us as far as we can see, probably to the Elk Horn. We are cheered by a view of the timber on that stream.”
On Wednesday, they crossed the Elkhorn River, which was three feet deep. On Thursday, they arrived home, at Winter Quarters. Brother Clayton recorded: “I found my family all well except Moroni who is very sick and his mother is somewhat sick. Their circumstances are not good, but in other respects they have been prosperous for which I thank my God. There has been much sickness here and many deaths during the fall and many are now suffering for lack of some of the comforts of life. We have been prosperous on our journey home and have arrived in nine weeks and three days.” William Clayton had carefully measured the distances on the way back from the Salt Lake Valley. He was prepared to write an emigration guide which would have great value to thousands of pioneers making the trek west during coming years.
Our Pioneer Heritage, 17:93‑94; William Clayton's Journal, 375‑76; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:284‑86; Bagley, The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 312‑16; Smart, Mormon Midwife, 102; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 283‑84; Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young, Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:164
A special council meeting was held on Sunday. Those in attendance included the High Council and captains of the various emigration companies. Parley P. Pratt explained that the main purpose of the meeting was to organize and find farming land for the coming season. Assignments were made to start the surveying on the following day.
The High Council reprimanded J. T. Himas for trading with the Indians without permission. His trades had caused problems. Isaac Chase was granted permission to build a sawmill on a spring near Little Canyon Creek. William W. Willis was appointed to assess and collect taxes from those living in the fort for the purpose of paying for a gate.
Eliza R. Snow was low on provisions. Sister Peirce came to her and asked how she was doing. Sister Snow wrote: “I told her I had none but I felt satisfied that the Lord would open the way for me . . . My trust is in God.” During the week, several families kindly provided both food and gifts for Sister Snow.
Robert S. Bliss, of the Mormon Battalion, returning from California, arrived at the Salt Lake Valley on Tuesday. He wrote: “I learned my family were not here which was one of the greatest trials of my life; to think that I had left them with the expectation to meet them here & had suffered almost every thing but death & traveled some 1500 miles since the 21st of July with joyful hope of meeting them here and thought of the happiness of their society again to be disappointed; to hear they were 1100 miles still from me & no possible chance of getting to them in 8 or 10 months to come is almost too much for me to bear.” He did add: “This is a delightful valley surrounded by Mts with beautiful springs of water.”
On Sunday the company tried to ford Loup Fork. Several men tried to cross on their horses, but some of the horses stumbled and men fell into the water. They attempted to take some wagons across but had great difficulty. They finally had to give up for the day. Wilford Woodruff wrote: “It was very cold & windy & a snow storm at night which made it bad on our poor weak horses.” During the night the men were kept awake by many geese flying south keep up a “constant chatter.”
On Monday they continued to try to find a place to ford the river. They succeeded and finally got everything across. Amasa Lyman and six men were sent ahead to notify Winter Quarters that the company would shortly arrive. Heber C. Kimball wrote a letter to his wife, Vilate, encouraging her to be of good cheer because they would arrive home within a week.
On Tuesday the company camped at the old Pawnee Missionary Station. They could tell that Protestant missionaries had returned and had built several buildings during the summer, but the Sioux had again driven the off. Horace K. Whitney observed: “It was now entirely deserted, the Sioux having paid it a visit about the last of June when they tore down the fences enclosing the houses, demolished the doors, stove in the heads of flour barrels, and scattered their contents on the ground and destroyed other property in divers ways.” Corn remained on the stalks which the brethren gathered for the horses.
On Saturday, the returning company reached the Elkhorn River at 2 p.m. Brigham Young asked the company if some wanted to press on and return home that night. The brethren wanted to stick together and return as an organized group on the following day. Wilford Woodruff recorded: “A company of about 20 waggons arrived about sundown from Winter Quarters to meet us. Brothers [Alpheus] Cutler, [Newel K.] Whitney & many other friends were among the number & we were truly glad to meet with them. They brought corn for our horses & food for ourselves & we had quite a feast for supper.” Hosea Stout added: “We had a most joyful meeting and a very happy time. Many of the pioneers had subsisted on buffalo meat entirely for months and when this supply came they hardly knew when to quit eating.”
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.94; Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 210; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:287‑88; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 285‑86; Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1847‑1850, 75; Holzaphfel, A Woman's View, 475‑77; Bagley, The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 317; Carter, The Mormon Battalion, 58
On Wednesday, the High Council assigned Charles C. Rich to have a brick room built to be used for an arsenal. The new city was having dog problems. A law was established that every dog owner must tie up their dog during the night. The fine for stray dogs would be one dollar. Five dollars would be fined if the dog was a nuisance, and it would be killed. The Bishop would decide these cases. Fire safety rules were also put into place. Hay stacks were to be moved outside of the fort and all chimneys must be built three feet above roofs.
It was a cold, windy week. The dust was blowing through the air so thick that at times they could not see the mountains. Patty Sessions' tent was blown down and torn to pieces on a snowy day. During the week she delivered at least three babies. Eliza R. Snow wrote: “This week the Lord has blest me abundantly with strength to labor.” She did all the cooking for her home, made three veils for other sisters and made two caps.
On Sunday, when the returning pioneers and battalion soldiers were within one mile of Winter Quarters, Brigham Young addressed the men: “Brethren I will say to the pioneers, I wish you to receive my thanks for your kindness and willingness to obey orders; I am satisfied with you; you boys have done well. We have accomplished more than we expected. Out of 143 men who started, some of them sick, all of them are well; not a man has died; we have not lost a horse, mule, or ox but through carelessness; the blessings of the Lord have been with us. . . . I feel to bless you all in the name of the Lord God of Israel. You are dismissed to go to your own home.”
Wilford Woodruff wrote: “We drove into the city in order. The streets were lined with people to shake hands as we drove along. Each one drove to his own home. I drove up to my own door & was truly rejoiced to once more behold the face of my wife & children again after being absent over six months and having traveled with the Twelve & the pioneers near 2,500 miles & sought out a location for the Saints and accomplished one of the most interesting missions ever accomplished at the last days.” Just three days earlier, Sister Woodruff gave birth to a baby girl.
The brethren were pleased with the progress of the city. The gardens and farms had produced abundantly. The city was full of hay and surrounded with corn. Returning pioneer, John Brown, of Mississippi wrote: “The Lord had blessed the Saints here and they had an abundance of grain and provender to sustain themselves and animals during the approaching winter. I found a letter in the office from my wife, which was the first news I had heard from her since leaving home.”
On Wednesday, John S. Fullmer, one of the Nauvoo Trustees, met with the Twelve. It was decided that the trustees should gather up all their records and to leave Nauvoo. The Nauvoo Temple would be put in the care of Judge Owens. It was also decided to have the Saints in Garden Grove come to Winter Quarters in the spring. Jesse C. Little was appointed to return to the east and resume his presidency over the Saints in the Eastern States Mission. John Brown was instructed to return to the South, to help the Saints prepare to gather to the valley. In a letter of authorization, Brigham Young wrote that the Saints should gather to Winter Quarters by May 1st, “ready to move over the mountains to 'Great Salt Lake City,' which the Lord has designed as the place for gathering of his people.”
On Saturday, a meeting was held to reorganize emigration companies. New captains were appointed in place of those who had gone to the valley.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.95; Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1847‑1850, 75‑76; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:288‑89; Smart, Mormon Midwife, 102; Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza R. Snow, 211; Autobiography of John Brown, 86‑87
Phinehas Young had been sent back when the pioneers were at Green River, Wyoming.