A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview

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Westward

 

The moving of a nation! What a task it must have been!

Most of you have had some experience in moving, it may be only a family moving from one house to another, and you know what a lot of worry and work there are in such a small affair; but here was a nation moving!

This great exodus was very much like the time when the children of Israel went from under the oppression of Egypt out into the wilderness to journey to the promised land. When at Nauvoo, Brigham Young said to the Saints: "To your tents, O Israel," they knew they had another Moses to lead them from their persecutors.

The camp at Sugar creek grew larger every day through the arrival of exiles from Nauvoo. Many did not bring provisions enough with them, so that they were forced to go to the neighboring farms and settlements and work for corn.

The first move the camp made was on March 1, 1846, when four hundred wagons started forward. Five miles only was traveled that day, and when they camped, the snow had to be shovelled away where they pitched their tents.

From that time the Saints moved slowly westward across the territory of Iowa. As they advanced, the spring rains came and often drenched the travelers through. The ground now became very muddy, and it was so hard for the poor teams that some days only a few miles were traveled. Sometimes their camping places were so wet that they who slept on the ground would have to lay on branches of trees so that they would not sink into the mud.

At first there was very little feed for their animals, and they had to live on the bark and twigs of trees, with what, corn could be spared for them. Many horses were traded for oxen, as they could stand such hardship better. Trips were made to the nearest settlements to buy food. Those who had no money traded what they could spare, such as dishes and feather beds for corn.

For the first few weeks there was not much order in their way of traveling; but on March 27th the Saints were more perfectly organized. Brigham Young was sustained as president of the whole camp. Then captains were appointed over hundreds, over fifties, and over tens. Clerks were chosen to keep the records, etc., and men were called to see to the buying and distributing of the food. Thus every one had something to do and everything was done in order.

Often in the evening when supper had been eaten, the logs were piled on the bonfire, a space was cleared, the musicians brought out their instruments, and the sorrows and hardships of the day were forgotten in the innocent dance.

The camp always rested on Sundays, and if the weather would permit, meetings were held.

On April 24th a point on Grand river was reached, one hundred and forty-five miles north-west from Nauvoo. Here it was decided to form a settlement—to build houses and plant crops, that those who came after would have food and a stopping place. Thesettlement was called Garden Grove. Soon it was as lively as a hive of bees. Hundreds of men were busy making fence rails and fences, building houses, digging wells, clearing land, and plowing. Meetings were held often and the people were instructed and encouraged. Parley P. Pratt and a small company were sent ahead to find another location for a settlement. They found a beautiful place about thirty miles from Garden Grove, which they called Mount Pisgah. Here houses were also built, and farms and gardens planted. As many of the Saints were poor and sick they rested at these two settlements while the main body went on.

From Mount Pisgah the country was wild Indian lands, there being no white settlements or roads. The spring rains had now moderated so that the roads were better. On June 14th President Young and the leading companies arrived at the Missouri river, where a stop was made. Most of the companies came up in July. A camp was made on the east side of the river on some high land called Council Bluffs.

This was on Indian land, but the travelers were received kindly and given permission to stop.

President Young intended to send a body of picked men into the Rocky Mountains as soon as possible to locate a gathering place. They were to push on ahead that summer and put in crops. Arrangements were being made to this end, when something happened that put a stop to the plan. This was the call for the Mormon Battalion, about which I will tell you in the next chapter.

After five hundred of their best men had marched away to fight the battles of their country, it was impossible for the Saints to get to the mountains that year. So it was decided to make a third stopping place and remain there during the winter.

There being a good location for a town on the west bank of the Missouri river, that place was selected and named Winter Quarters. The town was laid out regularly into streets, and log houses were built. Some made dugouts in the sides of the hill, which were quite comfortable during the cold winter. As the Indians were troublesome on that side of the river a stockade was built around the town. By December, 1846, five hundred and thirty- eight log houses and eighty-three sod houses were built, inhabited by three thousand four hundred and eighty-three people. The town was divided into twenty-two wards, each presided over by a bishop. A large log house was built in which meetings and parties were held.

The food of the people that winter consisted largely of corn-bread and pork. President Young had a grist mill built, but before that time many ate boiled wheat, and ground their corn in coffee mills.

Because of hardships and poor food there was much sickness at all the settlements. Graves marked the prairie for hundreds of miles. At Winter Quarters alone over six hundred were buried.

The poor Saints who were left at Nauvoo were not forgotten. After they had been driven from Nauvoo, they were met by teams from Winter Quarters, and all who wished to go were taken to the camps of the Saints.Perhaps you may get an idea of this great move when you are told that during that summer there were about two thousand wagons and ten thousand Saints on the way between Nauvoo and Council Bluffs.

Topics.1. From Nauvoo to Garden Grove. 2. Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah. 3. Winter Quarters.

Questions and Review.1. What might this last move of the Saints be likened to? 2. After leaving Nauvoo where was the first stopping place? 3. When did the camp start west? 4. What hindered the traveling? 5. How was the camp organized? 6. What did the Saints do for amusement? 7. Where were Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah? 8. What was the object in making these settlements? 9. What prevented a band of pioneers from going to the mountains that summer? 10. Where was Winter Quarters? 11. Describe the place. 12. About how many people were traveling across Iowa that summer?