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

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The Pioneers


While the Saints were in Winter Quarters during the winter of 1846-7 they were busily preparing for the march to the mountains next spring. Men for the advance company were selected, and on April 7, 1847, they began to move out of Winter Quarters to a place westward, where they were to gather. Ten days later the first or pioneer camp, was ready for marching. The idea was to have twelve times twelve men, but one became sick and had to return, so that left one hundred and forty-three. There were besides the men three women and two children. They had seventy-two wagons, ninety-three horses, fifty-two mules, sixty-six oxen, nineteen cows, seventeen dogs, and some chickens.

For three months and seventeen days this company traveled westward over plains and mountains. During the first part of their journey they sometimes followed a wagon road to Oregon, and sometimes they made new roads. The shallow rivers they forded, the deep ones they built bridges over, and the large ones they crossed in ferry boats which they built. After these ferries had been built the pioneers sometimes took over companies on their way to Oregon and received provisions for their pay The map will show you the route they took better than can be told here.

The pioneers did not know exactly where they were to locate. It was to be in some valley of the Rocky mountains where they could live in peace, free from mobs. When President Young was asked as to their destination, all he could say was that he would know the place when he should see it, and that they should continue to travel the way the Spirit of the Lord directed them.

On their journey they often met scouts and trappers. One of the best known of these was Col. James Bridger. He had been all through the valley of the Great Salt Lake, he said, and he told the pioneers that they could not live there, as nothing would grow. So sure was he of this that he offered to give a thousand dollars for the first bushel of corn they could raise in that valley. President Young simply said, "Wait a little and we will show you."

When they left the plains and got up in the mountains some of them became sick with the mountain fever. Among those ailing was President Young. He became so bad that he could not travel, so when they were in Echo canyon he instructed Orson Pratt to take the main company on and he with a few men would remain for a few days.

The main company, therefore, went on down Echo canyon, up Weber valley, and across the mountains, coming down into Salt Lake valley through Emigration canyon. President Young had told them that when they got to the open country on crossing the mountain they were to go to the north and stop at the first convenient place for putting in their seeds. This the company did, and on the 23rd of July they camped on the ground where now stands the beautiful city and county building in Salt Lake City. After offering up their thanks to God for his preserving care, they at once got out their tools and began to work. The season was so far advanced that if they were to raise anything they must hurry. When they tried to plow the land, they found it so dry and hard that some of the plows were broken. What could they do? Then the thought came to turn the water in the creek over the land and soak it up. This was done, and then there was no trouble to plow and plant. This was the beginning of irrigation in this western part of the United States.President Young and his party followed the next day. President Wilford Woodruff was with him and we will let him tell of it:

"On the 24th I drove my carriage, with President Young lying on a bed in it, into the open valley. When we came out of the canyon into full view of the valley, I turned the side of my carriage around, open to the west, and President Young arose from his bed and took a look at the country. While gazing on the scene before us, he was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the valley before in vision, and now he saw the future glory of Zion and of Israel as they would be, planted in the valleys of these mountains. When the vision had passed, he said:

"'It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.'"

On August 26th, President Young and a company of one hundred and seven persons, started on the return trip to Winter Quarters. On the Sweetwater river they met two large companies of Saints on the way to the valley, following the trail of the pioneers. There was great rejoicing, as the Saints now for the first time knew where they were to locate. These companies arrived safely in Salt Lake valley in September and October.

President Young and company arrived at Winter Quarters October 31. All was well with the Saints, and they were prospering.

And now a very important event took place. From the death of Joseph the Prophet up to this time the Church had been led by the Twelve. Now it was decided to reorganize the First Presidency, and at a meeting held in Winter Quarters, December 5, 1847, the Twelve chose Brigham Young as President of the Church. He chose Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as his counselors, and these now became the First Presidency. This action of the Twelve was sustained at a conference of the Church on the 27th.

Thus the work prospered. Many meetings were held, and the Church was set in order. Missionaries were sent to the world, and the Saints, now that they had another gathering place, began to flock towards the new Zion in the mountains. Winter Quarters was deserted and a new settlement founded across the river. It was called Kanesville (now Council Bluffs) in honor of Thomas L. Kane who did many kind acts for the Saints.

In the spring of 1848 the Saints on the Missouri river were busy getting ready for the move to the mountains. They started about the beginning of June, organized into three large companies, all led by President Young. Altogether there were 2,417 people, 793 wagons, herds of horses and cattle, a great many sheep, pigs, chickens, etc. Here was surely, if not a nation, a whole city moving. They followed in the trail of the first companies and arrived in Great Salt Lake valley in September and October.

Topics.1. The march of the pioneers. 2. Arrival in Salt Lake valley. 3. The reorganization of the First Presidency. 4. The main companies.

Questions and Review.—1. How many persons were in the first or pioneer company? 2. What was the object of the company? 3. How long were they on the journey? 4. Describe their route. (See map). 5. What did trappers and hunters say of Salt Lake valley? 6. When did the main body reach Salt Lake valley? 7. When did President Young arrive? 8. What did he say about the place? 9. Why did the pioneers know very little about irrigation? 10. Who returned to Winter Quarters? 11. Whom did they meet? 12. What took placeDecember 5, 1847? 13. Where was Kanesville? 14. What took place during the summer of 1848?