The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri

When the pioneers set out from the Missouri, instructions were

left for the organization of similar companies who were to follow

their trail, without waiting to learn their ultimate destination

or how they fared on the way. These companies were in charge of

prominent men like Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Bishop Hunter,

Daniel Spencer, who succeeded Smith as mayor of Nauvoo, and J. M.

Grant, the first mayor of Salt Lake City after its incorporation.

P. P. Pratt set out early in June, as soon as he could get his

wagons and equipment in order, for Elk Horn River, where a sort

of rendezvous was established, and a rough ferry boat put in

operation. Hence started about the Fourth of July the big company

which has been called "the first emigration." It consisted,

according to the most trustworthy statistics, of 1553 persons,

equipped with 566 wagons, 2213 oxen, 124 horses, 887 cows, 358

sheep, 35 hogs, and 716 chickens. Pratt had brought back from

England 469 sovereigns, collected as tithing, which were used in

equipping the first parties for Utah. This company had at its

head, as president, Brigham Young's brother John, with P. P.

Pratt as chief adviser.

Nothing more serious interrupted the movement of these hundreds

of emigrants than dissatisfaction with Pratt, upsets, broken

wagons, and the occasional straying of cattle, and all arrived in

the valley in the latter part of September, Pratt's division on

the 25th.

The company which started on the return trip with Young on August

26 embraced those Apostles who had gone West with him, some

others of the pioneers, and most of the members of the Battalion

who had joined them, and whose families were still on the banks

of the Missouri. The eastward trip was made interesting by the

meetings with the successive companies who were on their way to

the Salt Lake Valley. Early in September some Indians stole 48 of

their hoses, and ten weeks later 200 Sioux charged their camp,

but there was no loss of life.

On the 19th of October the party were met by a mounted company

who had left Winter Quarters to offer any aid that might be

needed, and were escorted to that camp. They arrived there on

October 31, where they were welcomed by their families, and

feasted as well as the supplies would permit.

The winter of 1847-1848 was employed by Young and his associates

in completing the church organization, mapping out a scheme of

European immigration, and preparing for the removal of the

remaining Mormons to Salt Lake Valley.

That winter was much milder than its predecessor, and the health

of the camps was improved, due, in part, to the better physical

condition of their occupants. On the west side of the river,

however, troubles had arisen with the Omahas, who complained to

the government that the Mormons were killing off the game and

depleting their lands of timber. The new-comers were accordingly

directed to recross the river, and it was in this way that the

camp near Council Bluffs in 1848 secured its principal

population. In Mormon letters of that date the name Winter

Quarters is sometimes applied to the settlement east of the river

generally known as Kanesville.

The programme then arranged provided for the removal in the

spring of 1848 to Salt Lake Valley of practically all Mormons who

remained on the Missouri, leaving only enough to look after the

crops there and to maintain a forwarding point for emigrants from

Europe and the Eastern states. The legislature of Iowa by request

organized a county embracing the camps on the east side of the

river. There seems to have been an idea in the minds of some of

the Mormons that they might effect a permanent settlement in

western Iowa. Orson Pratt, in a general epistle to the Saints in

Europe, encouraging emigration, dated August 15, 1848, said, "A

great, extensive, and rich tract of country has also been, by the

providence of God, put in the possession of the Saints in the

western borders of Iowa," which the Saints would have the first

chance to purchase, at five shillings per acre. A letter from G.

A. Smith and E. T. Benson to O. Pratt, dated December 20 in that

year, told of the formation of a company of 860 members to

enclose an additional tract of 11,000 acres, in shares of from 5

to 80 acres, and of the laying out of two new cities, ten miles

north and south. Orson Hyde set up a printing-press there, and

for some time published the Frontier Guardian. But wiser counsel

prevailed, and by 1853 most of the emigrants from Nauvoo had

passed on to Utah,* and Linforth found Kanesville in 1853 "very

dirty and unhealthy," and full of gamblers, lawyers, and dealers

in "bargains," the latter made up principally of the outfits of

discouraged immigrants who had given up the trip at that point.

* On September 21, 1851, the First Presidency sent a letter to

the Saints who were still in Iowa, directing them all to come to

Salt Lake Valley, and saying: "What are you waiting for? Have you

any good excuse for not coming? No. You have all of you unitedly

a far better chance than we had when we started as pioneers to

find this place."--Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 29.

Young himself took charge of the largest body that was to cross

the plains in 1848. The preparations were well advanced by the

first of May, and on the 24th he set out for Elk Horn (commonly

called "The Horn") where the organization of the column was to be

made. The travellers were divided into two large companies, the

first four "hundreds" comprising 1229 persons and 397 wagons; the

second section, led by H. C. Kimball, 662 persons and 226 wagons;

and the third, under Elders W. Richards and A. Lyman, about 300

wagons. A census of the first two companies, made by the clerk of

the camp, showed that their equipment embraced the following

items: horses, 131; mules, 44; oxen, 2012; cows and other cattle,

1317; sheep, 654; pigs, 237; chickens, 904; cats, 54; dogs, 134;

goats, 3; geese, 10; ducks, 5; hives of bees, 5; doves, 11; and

one squirrel.*

* Millennial Star, Vol. X, p. 319.

The expense of fitting out these companies was necessarily large,

and the heads of the church left at Kanesville a debt amounting

to $3600, "without any means being provided for its payment."*

* Ibid, Vol. XI, p. 14.

President Young's company began its actual westward march on June

5, and the last detachment got away about the 25th. They reached

the site of Salt Lake City in September. The incidents of the

trip were not more interesting than those of the previous year,

and only four deaths occurred on the way.

The First Converts At Kirtland The Foreign Immigration To Utah facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail