Sunday December 3 - Saturday, December 9, 1848
On Sunday Lyman Wight, one of the Twelve Apostles, and George Miller, a former second bishop to the Church were both formally disfellowshipped from the Church. A pamphlet written by Lyman Wight was read to the Saints. Hosea Stouts reaction to the reading was: "It is a long document and contains some foul insinuations against the Twelve. It breaths a dishonest, low, and mean spirit and was received as such by the Saints both here and at [Council] Bluffs."
[Elder Wight had separated himself from the main body of the Church since 1844 and had established a small colony of members in Texas. The brethren had maintained hope the Elder Wight would return to his calling but it was evident that he would not. During the summer of 1848 the Church leaders in Kanesville finally learned where Elder Wight was and read the defiant brochure he published against the Twelve. A copy of this publication had finally reached Great Salt Lake City in the recent mail delivered. George Miller had become disaffected with Brigham Young and left the main body of Saints in 1847 to join Lyman Wight's Texas colony. Miller and Wight didn't get along and Miller had recently left the Texas group. Missionaries, Thomas Martindale and Preston Thomas were on their way to Texas to try to persuade the small group of Saints to gather to the valley.]
Bitter cold hit the valley during the week. Hosea Stout went in search of coal in the mountains on Wednesday. On Friday he went alone on the mountain ridge south of Emigration Canyon. "I followed the ridge almost to the summit when the snow became too deep for traveling."
On Saturday December 9, 1848, a historic meeting was held in the log cabin home of Heber C. Kimball. This five room home, the largest at that time in the valley, was located on the east side of the pioneer Fort. At this historic meeting, the brethren considered whether they should petition Congress for a state or territorial government. The "Legislative Council," consisting of about fifty men, expressed a desire to petition for statehood, so they could elect their own officers.
A committee was appointed to make a census of the people in the valley and another committee was organized to draft a petition to be sent to Congress asking for statehood "or such other form of civil government as your wisdom and magnanimity may award to the people of Deseret." Members of this committee were Dr. John M. Bernhisel, Daniel H. Wells and Joseph L. Haywood.
At this meeting it was also proposed that the state be named "Deseret" and that its boundaries extend down into present Arizona, take in part of southern California including San Diego, take in all of Nevada and portions of Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, and New Mexico. The counsel proposed a list of candidates for officers which included Brigham Young as governor, Willard Richards and Secretary of State, and Heber C. Kimball as Chief Justice.
[These leaders of course had no way of knowing that the U.S. House Committee on Territories was at this very time was considering a resolution to "inquire into the expediency of so dividing the territory of Upper California as to organize and extend a district territorial government over that portion of said territory which includes the white settlement in the vicinity of the Salt Lake." Later in January this matter would be tabled.]
Howard Egan and a company of men arrived. They had left the Salt Lake Valley on October 13.
Jermy Benton Wight, The Wild Ram of the Mountain: Lyman Wight, 300-07 Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 138 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 9, p.103-4 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.80 B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol.3, Ch.89, p.444 Smart, Mormon Midwife, 120 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 336-37
The week was cold and snowy. On Sunday a public announcement was made that gold dust would be minted into coin. Many of the Mormon Battalion soldiers had brought gold dust from California. Thomas Bullock, clerk to Brigham Young, began to receive the gold dust at his office. William A. Follett is credited as being the first to deposit gold dust. He brought in fourteen and one-half ounces of gold and received credit for $232.00. Brigham Young and Willard Richards spent time weighing the precious metal. Hosea Stout saw the first new gold coin produced "which is perfectly plain only has the price 10 dollars 50 cents on it."
Wolves were becoming a problem for the Saints in the valley. They howled all night and commited depredations. Companies were organized to eliminate the wolves, foxes, ravens and other animals. A bounty of one dollar would be awarded for each wolf skin. The company that killed the most game would be treated to a dinner.
On Saturday the "Legislative Committee," which had been formed during the previous week, met again at the home of Heber C. Kimball. They received a report from the committee who had been preparing a petition to be sent to Congress asking for statehood for the state of Deseret. The draft petition was read and changes were suggested and sent back to the committee.
On Saturday Hugh moon wrote: "We moved to our appointed location in the First Ward of Great Salt Lake City, lot no. 1, Block 17, where we had builded a little cabin 10' x 14', of poles and dirt roof on it."
Elder Wilford Woodruff preached to a few Saints on Sunday. The weather was rainy. During the week he went with Solomon Mack and others to the Walpole Branch in Walpole, Massachusetts where a dozen members of the Church gathered. Elder Woodruff recorded: "There had been difficulties existing with the saints in that place for several years and I did not find any unity of feeling existing among them."
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.257 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 9, p.502 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.81 Hugh Moon, autobiography, typescript, BYU, Pg. 6 Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 139 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 337-38 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:390-91
Two inches of snow fell on Monday the 17th. Eliza R. Snow commented: "The weather continues cold with the exception of 2 or 3 pleasant days since the first of the month." Hosea Stout added: "During this time the weather was about one thing only -- snowing some, but mild." Thomas Bullock continued to received gold dust at his office. The dust was being used to mint gold coins.
On Saturday, December 23, the Legislative Committee again met at the home of Heber C. Kimball. They again reviewed the proposed petition to Congress for statehood and again asked for some changes to be made. Also on Saturday the Saints in the valley commemmorated the birthday of Joseph Smith.
John Pack and John D. Lee held a hunting meeting. Each of these leaders chose 100 men each to be in their hunting party. A competition would begin on Christmas Day. The hunting parties would try to kill as many crows, wolves, and other "noxious vermin" until February 1st. The losing group would pay for a large dinner for both parties. The captains agrred upon rules and established a point system for each bird or animal killed. A raven would be one point. Two points would be awarded for a hawk, owl, or magpie. A bear or panther would be fifty points. Isaac Moreley and Reynolds Cahoon would be the judges and Thomas Bullock would be the recorder. The man who produced the most points would receive a public vote of thanks at the dinner. When Hosea Stout learned he had been selected for one of these teams he wrote: "I declined to accept the office not feeling very war-like at this time."
Elder Wilford Woodruff read in newspapers about the "gold fever" sweeping the country and the world. He wrote in his journal: "In the midst of this order of things, the Latter-Day Saints discover vast quantities of gold at the base of the mountains of Israel in the valley of the Sacramento in upper California. And not only the people of the United States but of other nations catch the sound fo gold and tens of thousands are rushing forward every way in their power to get to the gold country as a horse would rush to battle. . . . Companies are forming in most parts of the United States and ships in all our ports preparing to take the people to the bay of San Francisco which is only 20 miles from Capt. Sutter's Fort where the Mormon gold diggings commenced. And it seems as though all the wolrd thought of at the present time was to obtain gold. Though the cholera has commenced spreading in New York once more, yet the gold panic is so much greater then than the fear of the cholera that it is hardly noticed."
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.257 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 9, p.104 Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 226 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 338 Brooks, John Doyle Lee, 141 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:392
Christmas Day, 1848, was celebrated in the Salt Lake valley. For hundreds of Saints it was their first Christmas experienced in their new mountain home. The weather was mild and overcast. The celebrations were simple, without Christmas trees, and without fancy presents. Some families feasted on wild duck, prairie chicken and a little cake. Pies were made into various shapes to please the children. Several young couples were united in marriage. A few young boys got into trouble when they made too much noise celebrating the weddings. They fired off guns and made other noises with kettles and pans requesting refreshments of cake.
Eliza R. Snow spent a quiet Christmas Day at home reading newspapers which Brigham Young had left with her during his visit to her home on Christmas Eve.
The men in the settlement started to hunt ravens on Christmas Day. President Brigham Young and his brother spent the morning working in the president's office. Thomas Bullock recorded articles of agreement for the hunting competition.
On Christmas morning, Young Mosiah Hancock (14 years) and his brother Marion Hancock (10 years) prepared to leave on a two-day trip to get a load of firewood from Little North Canyon (Bountiful). Their mother could only give them each two spoonfuls of bran-mush for breakfast. They had run out of meal. Mosiah recorded: "After we received the two spoonfuls of bran mush, we started forth to the head of little North Canyon. We got there in time to put on part or perhaps most of a load of poles or quakingasp wood. We secured the oxen to a wagon wheel and gave them some cane, then we built a fire and went to bed. We had only one quilt and part was under us and part was over."
When the boys woke up the next morning, they discovered that a heavy snow had fallen during the night. Marion went to help another team with wood, so Mosiah struggled to get his load out the canyon alone. He wrote: "I started home as soon as I could, but the wind, Oh, how cold it was! . . . I was so cold I couldn't ride, and I didn't know what to do, so I tried walking and kept up with the team. After awhile I got on and rode to the hot springs, where some unseen power grabbed me and shook me to wake me up and keep me from freezing to death. I usually could stand a lot of cold. I let the team go on while I stopped and warmed my feet in the hot spring water. But, I was too greedy with the hot water, and I scalded my partly frozen feetthey were thawed, sure enough! . . . When I reached home, my mother had unhooked the oxen, had fed and cradled them. Who can imagine the suffering of frozen feet? In three days time, every nail came off my toes!"
On Wednesday, Brigham Young called some of the brethren together to discuss plans for making currency. The minting of gold coins had not been successful because of the lack of good crucibles available. President Young wrote: "I offered the gold dust back to the people but they did not want it. I then told them we would issue paper till the gold could be coined. The municipal council agreed to have such a currency and appointed myself and Heber C. Kimball and Bishop Newell K. Whitney to issue it." Work commenced to produce the first paper money in the valley.
On Thursday Thomas Bullock and Robert Campbell made the first bills. They were about four inches long and two inches wide. Since there were no printing presses in the valley, the bills were printed with pen and ink on white paper. The denominations were $5.00, $3.00, $2.00, and 50 cents. A total of 830 notes were produced during the week which would be equal in value to the amount of gold dust collected -- $1,365.00.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 14, p.198 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 18, p.139 Mosiah Hancock Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.41 - p.42 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.257 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 339 Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 226
On Monday, January 1, 1849, Presidents Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball went to the home of John Smith and ordained him as the Presiding Patriarch in the Church.
Also on the first day of the year, the first one dollar bill was issued. Many other bills were paid out to those who had deposited gold dust. The production of these handwritten bills was a slow and laborious process. The following is a description of these bills: "Every bill carried four signatures, those of B. Young, H. C. Kimball, N. K. Whitney and Thos. Bullock, Clerk. Added protection was had by stamping each bill with the private seal of the Twelve Apostles. The design of the seal consisted of the emblem of the priesthood encircled by sixteen letters: P.S.T.A.P.C.J.C.L.S.L.D.A.O.W., an abbreviation for 'Private Seal of the Twelve Apostles, Priests of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the Last Dispensation All over the World.'"
On Saturday a council meeting was held at the home of Heber C. Kimball. Because bills could not be produced fast enough, it was decided to issued bills from the defunct Kirtland Safety Society Bank. The Church had a large supply of these bills. Thomas Bullock also noted that this fulfilled a prophecy of Joseph Smith. The Prophet had said that one day the Kirtland Bank notes would be "as good as gold." To read more about coins and currency see: http://eddy.media.utah.edu/medsol/UCME/c/COINS.html
The council also decided to send a committee of men to Utah Valley, to investigate using the valley for a stock range. If the idea look feasible, the cattle would be send and some buildings at the fort would be moved down to that valley. Another committee would look into establishing fisheries on Utah Lake. The final draft of the petition to Congress for statehood was read and approved. John M. Bernhisel was selected as the delegate to take the petition to Washington D.C.
To bring in the New Year, Parley P. Pratt wrote: "Our city now began to take form and shape, and to be dotted here and there with neat little cottages, or small temporary buildings, composed of adobes or logs. The roofs were generally of poles or timbers covered with earth. Saw mills were now in operation, and a few boards were obtained for floors, doors, etc. Our happy new year passed off merrily, and we were probably as happy a people as could be found on the earth."
At the end of Elder Wilford Woodruff's journal for the year 1848, he counted up a few statistics. During the year he had: traveled 4,850 miles, held 44 public meetings, baptized 14 people, blessed 20 sick people, blessed 10 children, and wrote 60 letters. To open his 1849 journal he wrote: "What the present year will bring to pass time must determine, but I have no doubt but the present year will chronicle events of equal importance with the past."
In the Millennial Star, Orson Spencer printed his farewell address to the British Saints. For the past year he had been the editor of the "Star" and had presided over the British Mission. He wrote: "Beloved Saints - The time is at hand when, by the permission of the First President in Zion, I shall be fully discharged from the duties of my mission to the British nation. I shall return to the bosom of my family, and to the Priesthood in Zion, after an absence of nearly three years. I go to the place of gathering for all nations pointed out by nearly all the prophets which have spoken since the world began. . . . Beloved Saints, suffer a little exhortation before I leave you. Keep the fellowship of the faithful, lest being alone you are beguiled from your steadfastness in Christ, and are cast out with the fearful and unbelieving. Let not the things that you cannot understand prevent you from maintaining unitedly with your brethren the truths that you do understand."
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 9, p.518 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.258 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 9, p.104 Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 140-41 Parley Pratt Autobiography(1985), p.336 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 6, p.192 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:398-401