Sunday, October 7, 1849 - Saturday, October 13, 1849
At the Sunday session of General Conference, It was announced and sustained that missionaries, including member of the Twelve, had been called to take the gospel for the first time to Italy, France, Denmark, and Sweden. Others would go to England and the Society Islands. President Young clarified the scope of the Twelve's authority when they were abroad: "When the Twelve are abroad in any nation, they dictate the affairs of the Church there, the same as I do here. The inquiry may be made, can Lorenzo Snow dictate anywhere but in Italy? Yes, the Twelve dictate in all the world, and send elders where they please and as they deem wisdom."
On that Sunday evening, the twenty-one brethren who had been called to go on missions assembled together with the First Presidency and the Twelve. They were blessed and set apart to serve in their respective missions. Three members of the Twelve were already away on missions. Orson Pratt was in England, Wilford Woodruff was in Boston, and Amasa Lyman was in California.
On Tuesday the newly called missionaries assembled in the bowery to be instructed by President Brigham Young. He said that they were to preach without purse or scrip, and to teach the first principles of the gospel.
On Friday the First Presidency issued the "Second General Epistle" from the First Presidency to the "Saints scattered throughout the earth." The letter included news of the Church since the last letter in April. "Thousands of emigrants from the States to the gold mines have passed through our city this season, leaving large quantities of domestic clothing, wagons, and etc., in exchange for horses and mules." To defuse any thoughts of catching gold fever, they wrote: "There is plenty of gold in western California . . . but the valley of the Sacramento is an unhealthy place, and the saints can be better employed in raising grain and building houses in this vicinity, than digging for gold in Sacramento, unless they are counselled so to do. . . . When the saints shall have preached the Gospel, raised grain, and built up cities enough: the Lord will open up the way for a supply of gold to the perfect satisfaction of his people."
Regarding the building projects in the valley, they wrote: "The walls of our council house are nearly completed. The baths at the warm spring house are in progress; the foundation is laid, and brick prepared for an extensive storehouse and granary."
In conclusion, the First President exhorted: "While kingdoms, governments, and thrones, are falling and rising, revolutions succeeding revolutions, and the nations of the earth are overturning; while plague, pestilence, and famine are walking abroad, and whirlwind, fire, and earthquake proclaim the truth of prophecy; let the saints be faithful and diligent in every duty, and especially in striving to stand in chosen places, that they may watch the coming of the Holy One of Israel."
The company of California emigrants led by Jefferson Hunt started their week's journey camped near present-day Payson. The weather had turned cold and snow seen on the mountains tops. The cold weather had driven the fish from the streams into Utah Lake. By Monday they had reached present-day Nephi where they saw a "mountain of salt" nearby. On Friday they passed through Scipio Valley. Addison Pratt wrote, "The hares were so plenty there that the ground would well compare with a sheep pasture." When they entered the valley the hares ran in every direction. About 200 men grabbed their rifles and balls were "whizzing in every direction." They camped that night near present-day Holden. By Saturday they reached the site of present-day Fillmore, which to them looked like a nice site for a small settlement. The company had killed about one hundred hares and a few sage hens.
On Wednesday Elder Wilford Woodruff's sister-in-law, Shuah C. Moulton, was baptized. Elder Woodruff reflected in his journal, "Father Joseph Smith Sen., the first Patriarch of the Church, when he gave Phebe W. Woodruff her Patriarchal blessing, he promised that she should have her Father's household with her in the kingdom of God." Her parents and three sisters had since joined the Church.
On Saturday Elder Woodruff noticed an article in the New York Herald which stated that the Saints in the valley had organized themselves into a state called "Deseret" and appointed Brigham Young to be governor. The article was generally very positive toward the Church.
Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 249-58 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 4, p.135 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 380-81 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:489-90
On Monday Brigham Young received a letter from Isaac Higbee in Utah Valley. Brother Higbee reported that the Indians in the area of Provo had been troublesome. The Indians were stealing, shooting at the brethren, and making threats. President Young wrote back and gave this advice: "Stockade your fort and attend to your own affairs, and let the Indians take care of theirs. Let you women and children stay in the fort, and the Indians stay out." He cautioned them against becoming to familiar with the Indians. Instead of chatting with them and being idle, they should teach them to labor. "You had better finish your fort, bring all your grain into it, and continue to live in it at present."
On Tuesday a large going-away "splendid party" was held at the home of John Taylor. It was a wonderful "farewell" for the departing missionaries. About three hundred people, including the families of the Twelve, partook of a large feast. Zina Young wrote: "A beautiful dinner and dancing in the evening some preaching etc. A delightful time. All that were going on missions were there."
On Friday the group of newly called missionaries departed from the valley heading east. The company of about thirty men included John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, Franklin D. Richards, and Edward Hunter. Elder Lorenzo Snow later wrote, "In solemn silence, I left what, next to God, was dearest to my heart -- my friends, my loving wives and my dear little children. As I pursued my journey, in company with my brethren, many conflicting feelings occupied my bosom. The gardens and fields in and around our new-born city, just emerging from nature's barrenness, through the faith, energy and the necessities of the exiles Saints, now struggling for subsistence, in a wild recess in the Rocky Mountains, were exchanged for the vast unbroken wilderness which lay spread out before us for a thousand miles."
The company led by Jefferson Hunt rested on the Sabbath near present-day Fillmore. Addison Pratt went for a walk and found "strewed in every direction specimens of broken pottery exhibiting much ingenuity in its carving and coloring, showing that the makers possess much mechanical genius."
On Monday they camped on willow flats near present-day Kanosh, and on Tuesday they entered the valley where Cove Fort would later reside. There they found a large prairie dog town. On Thursday the entire company camped on Beaver Creek near present-day Beaver and rested for two days. There were about 125 wagons and 1,000 head of cattle. Addison Pratt observed that this location could be a nice spot for a large settlement.
Including in this company were a number of young men who had been called on a "gold mission" to California. Brigham Young recognized that gold could help stimulate the economy and decided to call a few young men to go to California to mine gold. Twenty-two-year-old George Q. Cannon was one of these young men. Elder John Taylor had blessed young George that the angels of the Lord would watch over him and that he would return home to the valley in safety.
On Sunday, two followers of James J. Strang called upon Elder Wilford Woodruff. One of them asked Elder Woodruff to participate with him in a debate regarding Strang's claim that he was the true successor of Joseph Smith. Elder Woodruff wrote: "I told him I considered my time flung away to spend 5 minutes talking with him upon the subject. There had [been] more than a dozen men risen up since the death of Joseph risen up to undertake to usurp authority to lead the Church and govern the affairs of the kingdom of God when neither the Lord nor the Saints had called them unto that office and I felt that I had something of more importance to attend to than to spend my time in debating against the pretending claims of such men."
Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 261-62 Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 110-111 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 381-83 Bitton, George Q. Cannon: A Biography, 61 Smart, Mormon Midwife, 137 Diary of Zina D.H. Young, in Journal of Mormon History, 19:2:115 Wilford Woodruff's Journal 3:490
The company led by Jefferson Hunt started the week camped near the present site of Beaver, Utah. This company was an interesting collection of nonmember gold-seekers, missionaries, and young men being sent by the Church to mine gold in California. Brother Hunt had a difficult leadership responsibility in keeping this large company together. On Monday dissension arose. The weather was warm and the water was becoming scarse. A Captain Orson K. Smith, leading a group of packers, began gaining support among many to later take a short-cut called "Walkers Pass" which he claimed would have better grass and water. Many members of the Hunt company were persuaded that they should take this unproven route.
Addison Pratt wrote: "A general commotion was visible, or rather a rebellion. Slurs were frequently thrown out about the Mormons, and some even went so far as to threaten the life of Capt. Hunt, if they did not get through safely." The company split into two camps. Among those who intended on traveling with Smith through Walkers Pass were missionaries, Charles C. Rich of the Twelve and Francis M. Pomeroy. Other missionaries remained with Jefferson Hunt's company.
By Saturday, the company arrived into the valley where present-day Parowan, Utah resides. Addison Pratt wrote: "This is a large valley and affords a great abundance of grass, but is not well watered enough to accommodate a large settlement. The lake appeared about a dozen miles long and the water appears to be more impregnated with salaratus than salt. There were plenty of wild geese and ducks about it, and in the bottoms were plenty of hares and sage hens. The mountains on the east side are high and seem to be well timbered with pine and cedar. Some Indians came to us and appeared quite friendly."
The ship "James Pennell" arrived in New Orleans with 236 Saints on board. Their spiritual leader, Thomas H. Clark reported: "We had preaching and administered the Sacrament every Sabbath, and also preaching Tuesdays and Thursdays. The officers also stood to their post, as men of God, so that all was peace and harmony during the time. There has been but very little sickness on board. We lost three children, who were weaned just before they were brought on board; all the rest of the babes have done well. . . . The ship is a good sailing vessel; we were just seven weeks crossing, and our passage was more like a pleasure trip than a sea voyage."
The company was greeted by the Church Emigration Agent, Thomas McKenzie, who rented a number houses for a few of the families who wished to stay in the city for a little while. The majority of the Saints continued their journey up the Mississippi River.
Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 383-85 Bitton, George Q. Cannon: A Biography, 61 THE CONTRIBUTOR, VOLUME 13, p. 278
On Monday Jefferson Hunt's company camped on a creek at the location of present-day Parowan. Brother Hunt started to fear for his life because of threats voiced by some of the non-Mormons in the company. Some people said they would kill him if their cattle died while crossing the desert to California. But some deaths along the way were inevitable.
On Saturday, while camped on Pinto Creek, a meeting was held to discuss whether or not to take an uncharted shortcut through Walkers Pass. Addison Pratt wrote about this meeting: "We had in the company several preachers, of different persuasions, and among them was one Briar, a Methodist. He was a fellow that liked to give his opinion on every subject and this was a time of importance with him. After the crowd came together, he was called on to make the first speech. He accepted and took the opportunity to fire the imaginations of the people with a zeal for the cutoff, and closed by saying that the road across the deserts they knew to be a bad one, but the road on the cutoff they did not know what it was, but hoped it was a good one, and go it he should, sink or swim, live or die." They asked Jefferson Hunt about his opinion on the matter. Brother Hunt said he had never traveled the cutoff nor talked to anyone who had. Despite his words of warning, nearly the entire company voted to take the cutoff.
Elder Wilford Woodruff boarded the ship, "David Porter" and sailed to Cape Cod. On Sunday he met with a few Saints in West Harwich. Most of the men were away at sea on a merchant fishing voyage. They came back on Monday and gave Elder Woodruff a barrel of mackerel for him to take home. During the rest of the week he met with the Saints, preached at meetings, and healed an 84-year-old woman. On Saturday he returned to Boston.
Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 385-86 Wilford Woodruff's Journal 3:492-93