Sunday, November 4, 1849 - Saturday, November 10, 1849
The week opened with rainy weather in the valley. Construction work continued on the Council House located south of Temple Square. Sister Patty Session's husband was away all week working on a farm. Sister Sessions wrote: "My back is very lame. Mr Sessions is to work on the farm and I have had to cut wood all this week for the stove. I hope he will get home soon." He arrived home on Saturday.
On Sunday the company heading for California led by Jefferson Hunt, reached a fork in the road about seven miles northwest of present-day Newcastle Utah. The road to the west was believed to be a shortcut which would take them across Nevada and over the mountains to San Francisco. The road to the south was the "Old Spanish Trail" which would take them toward Los Angeles. Only seven wagons decided to stay with Jefferson Hunt on the planned trail to the south. All of the rest decided to take the cutoff. Elder Charles C. Rich, and young George Q. Cannon were among this group.
Addison Pratt remained with Jefferson Hunt. Elder Pratt wrote: "After we had separated into two companies, each company stopped to bid each other adieu, and as we began to give each other the parting hand, Br. Hunt put on a very long face as if he was about to shed tears. I could not but smile at his sad looks, when our waggons started on and left him with a party that were still urging him to go with them, but he told them his contract was to pilot them across the desert, and as long as there was one waggon that wish'd to go that way, he was obliged to go with them."
Brother Hunt told Charles C. Rich that if the group taking the cutoff discovered that the mountains were impassible, that they should return as quickly as possible and catch up with Hunt's company heading south.
William B. Lorton, not a member of the Church, was among those who decided to take the cutoff. He wrote, "I bid Pratt, Brown & the rest farewell & departed. It was a sad parting scene. We going over a route never explored by the white man, before us all dark & gloomy to enter mountains of great height subject to dreadful snows & frosts. They going over tractless deserts."
By Saturday Hunt's company crossed the Virgin River and was nearing the site of present-day Mesquite, Nevada. The other group, traveling on the cutoff started to suffer from thirst and exhaustion. Pack animals started to collapse.
The ship "Zetland" sailed from Liverpool with about two hundred and fifty Saints on board.
Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 2:358 Smart, Mormon Midwife, 138 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 388-90, 554 M. Guy Bishop, Henry William Bigler, 74 THE CONTRIBUTOR, VOLUME 13, p. 280
A company of missionaries including John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, Franklin D. Richards and others, was journeying along the Platte River about forty miles from Fort Laramie. Lorenzo Snow recorded the following amazing event which occurred on Monday:
One day, as we were taking our noontide meal, and our horses were quietly grazing on the prairie, the following thrilling scene occurred. A starling call resounded through our little camp. "To arms! To arms! The Indians are upon us!" All eyes were turned in the direction, and we beheld a spectacle, grand, imposing and frightful. Two hundred warriors, upon their furious steeds, painted, armed and clothed with all the horrors of war, rushed towards us like a mighty torrent. In a moment we placed ourselves in attitude of defence. But could we expect, with thirty men, to withstand this powerful host? Onward rushed the savage band with accelerated speed as a huge rock, loosened form the mountain's brow, dashes impetuously downward, sweeping, overturning, and burying everything in its course!
We saw it was their intention to crush us beneath the feet of their foaming chargers. They approached within a few paces, and in another moment we should be overwhelmed, when lo! an alarm like an electric shock struck through their ranks and stayed their career, as an avalanche, sweeping down the mountain side, stops in the midst of its course by the power of a hand unseen. The Lord had said, "Touch not mine annointed, and do my prophets no harm."
Erastus Snow gave this version:
In about one minute's time, under the direction of our gallant captain Jedediah M. Grant, we formed into a line of battle in front of our wagons with our animals behind them on the river bank. When every man's finger was upon his weapon, awaiting orders to fire, the savages' horsemen were brought to a sudden standstill. A parley was commenced which resulted in their giving us the road and they withdrew to their camps, while we made a good afternoon's march. During the following night, a party of Sioux succeeded in making a descent upon their camps and drove off a number of their horses.
On Saturday as Jefferson Hunt and his company were traveling near the present-day site of Glendale, Nevada, they were surprised to meet up with Charles C. Rich and James Brown who they thought were taking the cutoff. The men reported that they had given up taking to cutoff and had experienced great distress. Elder Rich had received a prompting warning him they should no long pursue that route and should rejoin Jefferson Hunt on the Old Spanish Trail.
Once Elder Rich made this decision, his company was blessed. Henry Bigler wrote: "Everything seems to go right since [Elder Rich] has took things in hand. We have no mountains to pass over, but pass right through them, and the river runs the right way and we have water whenever we want it for ourselves and animals, indeed we feel like new men since the machine had been put in order." Many of the nonmember gold-seekers refused to turn back and said they would cross of the mountains or perish. [They would finally give up three weeks later and also rejoin the Old Spanish Trail.]
Addison Pratt, who had stayed with Hunt wrote: "We were all much rejoiced to see Br. Rich and his company of 'Mormon Boys.' They had had very hard times in the mountains, had lost some of their animals, and expended nearly all their provisions."
Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 2:358 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 6, p.308 Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 111-12 M. Guy Bishop, Henry William Bigler, 74 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 394
On Monday the First Presidency wrote a letter to Elder Orson Hyde in Kanesville, Iowa. They reported that the walls of the Council House in Great Salt Lake City were finished and the timbers for the roof were being prepared. City lots had been surveyed to the west, reaching the Jordan River. They mentioned that many people had left to seek gold in California. Nine men had recently arrived from the gold fields and were going to use their riches to help gather the poor to the valley. On Tuesday the Church leaders decided to appoint Elder Parley P. Pratt the leader of an exploring expedition to the south. On Friday about fifty people met at Cottonwood Creek to organize this company. Included were W.W. Phelps, David Fullmer, John Brown, Ephraim Green, Isaac Haight, and many others. They company took with them twelve wagons, thirty horses and mules, and a good supply of food.
On Monday a large company of 224 Saints arrive at Sanpete Valley (present-day Manti). They were led by Isaac Morley, Seth Taft, and Charles Shumway. It was said that Brother Morley pointed his finger toward an eminence in the distance and prophetically remarked, "There is the termination of our journey. In close proximity to that hill, God be willing, we will build our city." At first the brethren were discouraged about the soil and timber, but after more exploration they became very satisfied about their prospects. Indians in the area had burned away much of the grass in attempts to catch rabbits and other game.
On Wednesday Jefferson Hunt's company reached present-day Las Vegas and camped on Vegas Creek. Addison Pratt wrote, "This rises from some large springs and runs down through a large valley covered with immence quantities of good grass. This would support a great number of cattle and the soil appears to be very rich." Their odometer reported that they had traveled 450 miles from Salt Lake City.
Elder Wilford Woodruff spent the week traveling from Boston to Philadelphia. He met with many Saints along the way. On Friday he reached his destination and found his old friend, Brother John M. Bernhisel. On Saturday they tried to call on Colonel Thomas L. Kane, but he was not home. Thomas Kane had been a great influential friend of the Saints over the past three years.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 15, p.424 Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 265-66 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 394 Wilford Woodruff's Journal 3:494-95
On Saturday, nineteen cold and starving men (nonmembers) entered the valley. They were part of a company who had started their journey west late in the season, on September 24th. Because of deep snow, they had to leave their wagons on Echo Creek. It took them two days to travel over "Big Mountain." Several brethren started out, to go over the mountains, to try and find the horses that this company had to abandon.
From present-day Las Vegas, the Jefferson Hunt Company continued to follow the Old Spanish Trail which went west and south, making its way from water hole to water hole. On Sunday they camped at Mountain Springs, which Addison Pratt described as "some small springs that comes out of the hills, and rather poor water." After crossing a large open desert, on Tuesday they made their way up a pass to Resting Springs. Brother Pratt wrote, "The road over it was stoney and steep. As we were some way ahead of the waggons, we went to heaving stones out of the road and by the time they came up, we had it so well cleared that they went over without doubling teams." They found much grass near the springs which they cut to carry over the next desert.
On Monday Elder Wilford Woodruff and Brother John Bernhisel met with Colonel Thomas L. Kane. Kane reported to Elder Woodruff that he had been trying to help the Saints get a territorial government approved by Congress. He was sad to report that President Polk was not in favor of having the Mormon people govern a territory, but rather wanted to appoint his own officers. Kane finally had to withdraw the Saints' petition. Kane said, "You must have officers of yourselves, and not military politicians strutting around in your midst and usurping authority over you." There were still bitter anti-Mormons in Congress from Missouri. Kane concluded that the Saints would be better off not to have a territorial government run by outsiders -- men appointed by Congress. "Brigham Young should be your governor. His head is not filled with law books and lawyer's tactics, but he has power to see through men and things."
On Wednesday Elder Woodruff rode on a train heading for Delaware. On the train were many notable members of Congress, including Henry Clay.
Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 266-68 Ellsworth, The Journals of Addison Pratt, 396-98 Wilford Woodruff's Journal 3:496