Sunday October 1 - Saturday, October 7, 1848
On Sunday a meeting was held under the bowery in the fort [located in today's Pioneer Park.] Addison Pratt gave a report of his five-year mission to the Society Islands. [Elder Pratt had recently arrived from California with a group of Mormon Battalion soldiers.] President Brigham Young remarked that Elder Pratt's mission had been long and tedious. He wished that the Church could have relieved the Elders serving on the islands but because the Church was driven from Nauvoo, this was not possible. President Young asked Elder Pratt to preach a sermon in Tahitian. Elder Pratt was hesitant because it had been more than a year since he left the islands. After some more urging Elder Pratt gave a wonderful talk in that tongue to the delight of the congregation.
In the afternoon Brigham Young announced that a wall would be constructed around the temple block. He also invited those who wished to farm in the "big field" to sign up for land with the clerk, Thomas Bullock. The congregation sustained a plan to build a council house with tithing labor. Daniel H. Wells was appointed to supervise the project.
President Young called together all the Mormon Battalion veterans and blessed them in the name of the Lord for their service to the Kingdom. He shared his views as to why their mission was so important. He wrote: "I said to the praise of the battalion that they went as honorable men doing honor to their calling and the United States." He called to repentance any who might have transgressed along the way. He knew that some of the soldiers desired to be back in California in search of gold. "If we were to go to San Francisco and dig up chunks of gold or find it here in the valley it would ruin us. Many wanted to unite Babylon and Zion; it's the love of money that hurts them. If we find gold and silver we are in bondage directly. To talk of going away from this valley for anything is like vinegar to my eyes. They that love the world have not their affections placed upon the Lord."
On Monday Thomas Bullock was very busy taking applications for farm land in the big field. Brigham Young came to the office and had great difficulty making his way through the crowd. By the end of the day, there had been 776 applications for 9,650 acres (or about 15 square miles) of land.
On Friday the semi-annual conference of the Church was opened but was quickly postponed until Sunday. The Mormon Battalion soldiers had planned a big celebration on Thursday, but the weather was bad and it was decided to instead hold the celebration on Friday. A feast was held and a cannon was fired.
Addison Pratt recorded: "After the people were assembled at the stand, all the officers of the Mormon Battalion with a martial band, after the tables were set under the bowery, proceeded from one side and marched around the bowery and the soldiers with their ladies fell into ranks and when they had marched once or twice around, they were marched in and seated at the tables, and what vacant seats there were left were filled up by their friends. After they had eaten, a general invitation was given, the tables and benches were cleared away, and what there was of the Nauvoo band then mounted the stand after two sets of dances were drawn up, an animating tune was struck up and the dances proceeded and continued til five oclock when it closed."
On Wednesday Jedediah M. Grant, leading a company of teams and wagons from the valley, met Amasa M. Lyman's company at Fort Bridger. They also found Willard Richard's company at Black's Fork. Brother Grant brought wagons and teams to further help these Saints reach the valley.
Elder Wilford Woodruff traveled to New York from Boston, and on Sunday met with the Saints at Elizabeth and Grand Streets, over a porter shop. In the afternoon he spoke about the sacrament. He exhorted the Saints to be faithful and prepare for the second coming of the Savior. Thomas Cartwright was sustained to be the presiding Elder over the New York Branch consisting of sixty-five members.
Early in the week, Elder Woodruff visited the Saints in New York and Brooklyn despite terrible stormy weather. On Wednesday he took a train to Philadelphia and stayed at the home of Brother Jacob Gibson. On Thursday and Saturday he had a wonderful meetings with Thomas L. Kane, a great friend to the Church. Elder Woodruff wrote about his reunion with Kane: "His office was full of men on business yet when he saw me he came to us left his business & conversed with us with deep interest upon our cause. Said he had fears that there was trouble brewing against us in the west of Iowa & wished me to give him the earliest information of any thing against us."
Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 123-26 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.256 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 363-64 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:373-75
On Sunday, the General Conference of the Church met under the bowery located in the fort. It was opened with singing and a prayer offered by Elder John Taylor. Afterward the choir sang another number and then Elder Parley P. Pratt conducted the sustaining of Church officers. Brigham Young was sustained as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with Heber C. Kimball as first counselor, and Willard Richards as second counselor. John Smith was sustained as Patriarch over the whole Church. Charles C. Rich was sustained as the president of the stake, with John Young and Erastus Snow as Counselors. The members of the Twelve, presidents of the Seventy, and members of the High Council were also sustained. Newel K. Whitney was sustained as the Presiding Bishop.
Speakers in the morning session included John Kempton, Charles C. Rich Parley P. Pratt, Heber C. Kimball, Erastus Snow and President Brigham Young. President Young spoke about the holy priesthood and explained why it was necessary to have a First Presidency. He testified that the Lord told him that the Church would fall if the First Presidency was not organized.
The following brethren spoke in the afternoon session: Reynolds Cahoon, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt and Brigham Young. Topics discussed included keeping the canyons and roads in good repair and the management of the church farm.
On Monday Brigham Young wrote a letter to the Saints back in Iowa. He reported on the progress of the new city and then discussed plans to bring more of the Saints to the new valley home. "We deem it wise for the brethren to build their wagons at the Bluffs, suitable timber is scarce here and the iron will be needed here. . . . We expect that the brethren will not have occasion to bring any more bread stuff than will last them through the journey; as we consider that we shall be able to raise all they may want on their arrival; but they may instead thereof bring clothing, dry goods, groceries and olive oil; also sheep, cows, young cattle, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pea fowl, guinea fowl, bees and seeds of all kinds, not forgetting potatoes, beets, turnips, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, lowland and upland rice, chestnuts, hickory nuts, peanuts, black and sweet locust, fruit and shade trees, flowering shrubs and all manner of flower seeds and vegetables that shall please the eye or gladden the heart of man."
Hosea Stout was appointed to lead a group to enforce a fine of 50 cents for every stray animal found. The animals had been straying into fields, eating grain. On Wednesday, three young men brought in ten horses to Brother Stout, claiming that the horses were strays, and asked for payment in rounding them up. It was later discovered that these three young men had been dishonest, and had caused the horses to get loose from their owners. The men confessed and were sent to confess to President Young.
Amasa Lyman's pioneer company started arriving in the valley during the week. The main part of the company arrived at Weber River on Wednesday.
On Sunday Wilford Woodruff met with the Saints in Marshall Hall. He spoke with power on the signs of the times. He warned the Saints to keep the commandments of God, that they might escape the judgments of God. Brother William I. Appleby was appointed to be the presiding elder over the branches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. On Tuesday Elder Woodruff traveled to Newark, New Jersey, and appointed John Sanderson as the president of the Newark and Spring Garden Branch. Elder Woodruff went to New York on Thursday and visited Saints in Brooklyn on Friday.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.434 Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 126-27 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 333 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:375-76
On Sunday, the General Conference for the Church continued. Elder Addison Pratt reported his mission to the Society Islands (Tahiti). He referred to many islands which had recently been discovered. He described their beauty and wonderful climate. He shared with the congregation a story of an old man who had lived to see his great-great grandchildren. This man feared death because of things he had done in his youth. Brother Pratt had explained to him that the Lord was merciful regarding deed done in ignorance, according to traditions. The old man had accepted the gospel and turned from his wickedness. After Brother Pratt explained that God would save him, the old man said he no longer feared death. He died later that evening.
Addison Pratt was anxious to have elders sent back to the islands. The conference voted that Brother Pratt should return to the islands with other elders. Missionaries would also be sent to New Holland, East Indies, and China.
Brigham Young spoke to the conference and instructed the elders to meet in their quorum capacities "and shake off the rust that was upon them, and learn whether the gifts of the gospel were alive in them." He told the 1848 pioneers that when the 1847 pioneer arrived in the valley, they were all rebaptized. He counseled the Saints who had just arrived to do likewise.
On Tuesday most of Amasa Lyman's company arrived. Most of them went to settle south of the city on Cottonwood creek. Hosea Stout remarked: "Rainy afternoon and uncomfortable for those who are out without houses."
On Thursday Willard Richards arrived with he company. He reported that there had been two births in their company since they left Winter Quarters, and there had also been thirteen baptisms along the way.
During the week many of the pioneer who had recently arrived went to work at building their homes. Addison Pratt wrote about his experience getting logs for firewood from one of the canyons: "I started in company with another brother into one of the canyons after a load. We entered it and followed up a mountain stream. On each side the mountains were nearly perpendicular. The wood had been all cut away for 3 or 4 miles when we came to a lot of young sugar maples, that had been killed by the fire running through them. These were hard to cut, but were excellent wood. After we had got our waggons as near them as we could, we went among the trees, and the mountain was so steep that I had to pull myself up by the brush, and then brace myself to keep from slipping downhill while I cut the trees. After this was done we laid the trees in a pile, hitch'd the cattle to them and snaked them down to the waggons, loaded them on, bound them fast with chains and started for home and arrived there about 8 oclock in the evening."
Elder Wilford Woodruff met with the Saints in Brooklyn on Sunday. Later in the week he traveled to Norwalk, Connecticut. On the way he wrote a letter to his wife Phebe, who was staying with family in Maine. His letter included: "I have been much blessed with the Spirit of God since I saw you I have felt more of the presence and Power of God with me than I expected to have enjoyed on this eastern mission. I have felt that some one has prayed much for me of late; I wonder if it was Phebe. I know you pray much for me. I feel its power and prize it much. I have never felt such a desire to prove worthy of your confidence and trust, shun every appearance of evil, keep out of the path of all temptation, and do right in all things as I have of late."
Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 129-32 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 366 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 333 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:378
A conference of the Church was held in Kanesville (located in the Council Bluffs area.) Nearly 2,000 people attended the meeting on Sunday. Elder Orson Hyde instructed the Saints on many matters.
Oliver Cowdery, who had been away from the Church for many years, arrived from Wisconsin with his family. On this historic occasion, he addressed the Saints at the conference. He bore a powerful testimony about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the priesthood to the earth. He testified that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. He told the people that they should keep on the "main channel of the stream" where the body of the Church goes. He testified that the Church has the holy priesthood and that the angel said unto Joseph Smith that "this priesthood shall remain on the earth unto the end."
Reuben Miller later recorded Oliver Cowdery's words at this conference: Oliver said: "I wrote with my own pen the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by means of the Urim and Thummim, or as it is called by that book, Holy Interpreters. I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was translated. I also beheld the Interpreters. That book is true. . . . It contains the everlasting gospel, and came forth to the children of men in fulfillment of the revelations of John, where he says he saw an angel come, with the everlasting gospel to preach to every nation, kindred, and people. It contains the principles of salvation; and if you, my hearers, will walk by its light and obey its precepts, you will be saved with an everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God on high."
Brother Cowdery's testimony caused quite a sensation among the nonmembers present, and the Saints rejoiced to hear his words. Ezra Williams was impressed by "the humble spirit, the realization of what he had lost by leaving the Church."
Elder George A. Smith wrote a letter to Orson Pratt reporting: "Last evening President Hyde and I spent the evening with Brother Cowdery; he told us he had come to listen to our counsel and would do as we told him. He had been cut off from the church, and removed away from it for eleven years; and now came back, not expecting to be a leader, but wished to be a member and have a part among us. He considered that he ought to be baptized; and did not expect to return without entering in at the door. He said that Joseph Smith had fulfilled his mission faithfully before God until death." [Oliver Cowdery was baptized in November and then went to spend the winter with the Whitmer family in Richmond, Missouri. He never was able to make the journey to the valley. He died on March 3, 1850.]
The weather was wet and cold, with the first snow of the season. The Saints who were without homes suffered from the elements.
Elder Wilford Woodruff preached to the Saints on Sunday and visited with many of them in the area. He also met with Mr. William Goodyear, who was the brother of Miles Goodyear. Elder Woodruff had met Miles Goodyear during the pioneer trek of 1847. Goodyear had recently sold his property on Weber River to the Saints. On Wednesday, Elder Woodruff returned to Boston and witnessed an impressive parade and celebration. The city was celebrating the arrival of water piped into the city from Lake Cochituate. The procession was seven miles long. Fireworks and illuminations were seen in the evening.
Elder Woodruff also learned the sad news from a newspaper that the Nauvoo Temple was burned down on October 9, 1848. The Nauvoo Patriot reported: "Our citizens were awakened by the alarm of fire, which, when first discovered, was bursting out through the spire of the temple, near the small door that opened from the east side to the roof, on the main building. The fire was seen first about three o'clock in the morning, and not until it had taken such hold of the timbers and roof as to make useless any effort to extinguish it. The material of the inside were so dry, and the fire spread so rapidly, that a few minutes were sufficient to wrap this famed edifice in a sheet of flame. It was a sight too full of mournful sublimity. . . . Although the morning was tolerably dark, still, when the flames shot upwards, the spire, the streets and houses for nearly a mile distant were lighted up, so as to render even the smallest objects discernible. The glare of the vast torch, pointing skyward, indescribably contrasted with the universal gloom and darkness around it; and men looked on with faces sad as if the crumbling ruins below were consuming all their hopes." [Arson was suspected and later a man name Joseph Agnew was accused of starting the fire and receiving a reward for the deed.]
Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 133-35 Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, 61-2 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 334 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:381-85
There were about 4,000 Saints in the valley preparing for the winter. They were very busy building more homes and obtaining firewood from the canyons. The weather was better this week. The snow-capped mountain range was an impressive sight to those who had recently arrived from Winter Quarters.
Benjamin F. Johnson described his efforts to build an abode house. "I at once bought adobies to build us a house while weather would permit. To this end I sold all the clothing we could spare, nearly all the groceries, and everything that could be scraped together for that purpose. I hauled the adobies upon the ground, while Brother Baker went with a team to the canyon to get lumber for floors, doors, etc."
On Sunday President Brigham Young spoke to the pioneer Saints. He gave them a stern warning against scattering away from the main body of Saints in the city. He denounced those who were trying to build a farm on the west side of the Jordan River.
Hosea Stout purchased an existing house in the Fort for forty dollars. The home was 14 by 18 feet, which was "plenty of room" for the Stout family.
Recently returned missionary, Addison Pratt, was invited to attend a party held at Brother Holmes' house. Such events were foreign to Brother Pratt, who had been away from the main body of the Church for more than five years. "My family was invited and I was invited to preside. This was something novel with me, but as it was fashionable here, I accepted the invitation. After the party was collected, and everything arranged, and the fiddler had got his instrument in tune, the company was called to order and I opened the dance by prayer. It was my place to see that good order was observed during the evening, and then close by prayer. This according to all the parties of pleasure at Salt Lake City. Dancing is general in their amusements, and the young people excel in that."
Elder Wilford Woodruff traveled to Fall River and visited with a branch of twenty-two English Saints. William Low was the presiding Elder of the Branch. Elder Woodruff helped solve some problems in the branch and had a very pleasant visit. On Tuesday he returned to Boston and received some good news from the valley. Letters had been received from the Saints there, indicating that the wheat harvest was enough to last the Saints in the valley for two years. This was glorious news to Elder Woodruff.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 15, p.211 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 334 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 367 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:385-86