In the coming weeks, the pioneers continued their hard work to prepare for the winter months in the Salt Lake Valley. A fort was constructed with an adobe fence, to provide protection. The members of the Twelve planned to return to Winter Quarters. They quickly went to work to construct houses to store their goods and provide for some of their families who they believed would be arriving soon with the “Big Company” of pioneers. All of the pioneers were “re-baptized” to renew their covenants in their new valley home.
The pioneer’s new city was named, “Great Salt Lake City.” Explorations were made of Cache Valley. Samuel Brannan, John Brown, and a few other members of the Mormon Battalion left the valley to travel back to California.
On August 9, the first birth occurred. A daughter, Young Elizabeth Steele was born to battalion members John and Catharine Campbell Steele.
Sadly, on August 11, the first death occurred among the Saints in the valley. Three‑year‑old Milton Howard Therlkill, wandered away from camp, fell into City Creek, and drowned. He was the son of Mississippi Saints George and Matilda Jane Therlkill. Thomas Bullock recorded: "He fell into the river on the South East of the Camp & before assistance could be rendered he was quite dead. Means were used to revive him, if possible, but all was of no avail. This is the first death in this Valley." As the parent mourned their loss, on August 14, a daughter, Harriet Ann Therlkill was born into their family.
On August 12, an “Ox Team” company started the journey back to Winter Quarters. This company consisted of 24 pioneers, 46 battalion soldiers, 34 wagons, 92 yoke of oxen, 18 horses, and 14 mules.
On August 22, a conference of the Church was held on the temple lot, in the newly constructed bowery. Tarlton Lewis was appointed to be the overseer of the city stockade.
Many of the pioneers, including the Twelve, prepared to return to Winter Quarters. Wilford Woodruff wrote:
We shall leave this valley in the morning to start back to Winter Quarters. We as a pioneer company have accomplished more this season then can be found on record concerning any set of men since the days of Adam. . . . In one month after our arrival laid out a city two miles square & built a fort & fortification of hewn timber drawn 7 miles from the mountains & of unburnt brick surrounding 10 acres of ground 40 rods of which was covered with block houses, besides planting about 100 acres of corn, potatoes, buckwheat, turnips, gardens &c.
On August 26, a company of 107 pioneers and battalion soldiers left the valley heading east toward Winter Quarters. Brigham Young gave parting instructions to those remaining in the valley. These instructions included:
It is necessary that the adobe yard (the stockade) should be secured so that Indians cannot get in. . . . Make your walls 4 feet high, so that they can keep the cattle out. Build your houses so that you will have plenty of fresh air in them, or some of you will get sick, after being used to sleeping in your wagons so long. . . . Raise all the grain you can, and with this you can purchase sheep, cows, teams, etc., of those who come here later on. We desire you to live in that stockade until we come back again, and raise grain next year.
Harriet Young, wife of Lorenzo Young wrote: “This day has been a lonesome one. Bro. Brigham and Heber with a number of Brethren started for Winter Quarters and we feel as if we were left alone.”
As Brigham Young and the returning pioneers were traveling through Echo Canyon, they met Ezra T. Benson and others, who had been sent as messengers to the second company of pioneers. Wilford Woodruff wrote of the joy in meeting these returning messengers: “They were truly welcome messengers, for our anxiety had been very great to hear from our families & the camp, & to our joy we heard from them this day.” For the first time, they realized how huge the second company of pioneers was ‑‑ nine companies of nearly 600 wagons, more than 1,500 people. The pioneers received letters for the first time from their families.
On September 3, the returning pioneers met the lead “fifty” of the Big Company of pioneers on Big Sandy River, in Wyoming. For the next several days they met hundreds of Saints on the trail. It was a warm and joyful reunion. Patty Sessions recorded: “Here the pioneers come to us. It made our hearts glad to see them.” Sarah Rich wrote: “This was a time of rejoicing.” The Saints eagerly listened to the pioneers as they described the Salt Lake Valley. Joseph Kingsbury recorded: “They said that the land which was found was preserved for this people & that any person who enjoys the Spirit of God would know it as soon as he sees it.”
Before the returning pioneers parted with this second company of pioneers heading west, a great feast was held. Wilford Woodruff wrote: “This Hundred prepared a feast for the whole Pioneer Camp & furnished a table here in the wilderness in the most splendid manner for one hundred persons.” They feasted on roast, broiled beef, pies, cakes, biscuits, peach sauce, and other delicious items. John Brown observed: “Such a table had never before been spread in the Rocky Mountains.”
On September 8, the returning pioneers met the last company, the Jedediah M. Grant Fifty, on the Sweet Water. Wilford Woodruff commented, “It looks gloomy here, to see so many men, women & children here in the mountains with their horses & cattle stolen & breaking down so late in the season.”
The snow began to fall as the returning pioneers bid farewell to the Saints heading west. Thomas Bullock wrote: “When we see all the hills tipped with snow & feel the chilling blasts of Winter, causes me to feel anxious for the safe & speedy journey of the Saints to their respective homes.”
On October, 31, 1847, Brigham Young and the returning pioneers drove into Winter Quarters. The city streets were lined with members of families who had not seen them for more than six months. On that day, President Young addressed the pioneers: “Brethren, I will say to the pioneers, I wish you would receive my thanks for your kindness and willingness to obey orders. We are satisfied with you; you have done well. We have accomplished more than we expected. . . . The blessings of the Lord have been with us.”
On September 22, 1847, the first members of the Big Company of pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Other companies arrived into October. Patty Sessions recorded her feelings on her arrival: “Got into the valley. It is a beautiful place. My heart flows with gratitude to God that we have got home all safe, lost nothing, have been blessed with life and health. I rejoice all the time.” Jesse W. Crosby wrote: “I was led to exclaim when first viewing this beautiful space, hemmed in with lofty mountains: ‘Behold a resting place prepared and had in reserve for the Saints.’”
Ann Agatha Walker Pratt recorded: “When I drove into the Salt Lake Valley, unyoked my cattle and sat down on the wagon tongue and began to realize that in the morning I would not have to hitch up and toil through another day, such a feeling of rest -- blessed rest -- permeated my whole being that it was impossible to describe and cannot be realized except by those who have passed through similar scenes.”
October 10, 1847, marked the day that the last of the 1847 pioneers arrived into the valley. About 2,095 pioneers had “found the place” in the valley that year. About 1,690 of these pioneers, Mormon Battalion soldiers, and Mississippi Saints spent that first winter in the valley home of the Saints.