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

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Great Salt Lake City


The 25th of July, 1847, came on a Sunday, therefore the pioneers rested and held meetings.

Monday morning work began in earnest. Plowing and planting had to be hurried. Exploring parties were also sent out in different directions to become acquainted with the country.

On the evening of July 28th President Young, accompanied by the Apostles, went some distance from the camp to select a spot from which to begin building the city. Arriving at a good location, President Young stopped, and, striking his cane in the earth, he said: "Here will be the temple of our God"—and on that spot the temple stands today. It was then decided to lay out the city north, east, south, and west from the temple site, in ten acre blocks, the streets to be eight rods wide and the sidewalks twenty feet. Some time after this it was named Great Salt Lake City.

You will call to mind that some of the Mormon Battalion, owing to sickness, did not march through to California. This company, together with some Saints from the state of Mississippi, arrived at the pioneer camp on July 29th, thus making quite an addition to the company. The first building of any kind erected in the valley by the Saints was a bowery built on the temple block by the Battalion men. This was used for some time in which to hold meetings.

It was decided not to settle on the city lots at first, but build a fort with houses in as a protection from the Indians. The houses were built of logs, and stood in a row, close together, which formed one side of the fort. The other three sides were built of adobe walls. The roofs of the houses were made of soil. The windows and doors faced the inside. Though better than living all the winter in tents and wagons, you may imagine these houses were not very comfortable, especially when the rain came through the roofs onto beds, tables, stoves, etc.

A conference was held in the bowery on Sunday, August 22nd, where considerable business was attended to. The Salt Lake Stake of Zion was organized, with John Smith as president. It was shortly after this that President Young and his company went back to Winter Quarters.

The next addition to the settlement was the Mormon Battalion from California.

At the coming of winter all moved into the fort. That season the winter was mild, so quite an amount of work was done outside.

The spring of 1848 opened with fine prospects ahead. Five thousand acres of land were planted, and the grain was growing rapidly; but another trial was at hand. In May and June great swarms of crickets came from the mountains and began to devour every growing thing. The settlers fought them as best they were able, but what could be done with such countless millions of insects! It seemed hopeless. Their crops were fast disappearing, and with them their means of living through the next year. Remember, theywere a thousand miles from any other people, with mountains and deserts between them. They could not get food from other places. They would have to raise it or to starve.

When they had about given up hope, there came great flocks of white birds from the lake. They settled on the fields and began eating the crickets. They would eat all they were able, then vomit, and eat again. This they did day after day until the crickets were destroyed and part of the crop was saved.

That fall President Young with the main body of Saints arrived from the East. There were now about five thousand people in the valley, and prospects were not very encouraging, owing to the small crop raised. Food was scarce, as also was clothing. Many people lived for weeks on "greens" and the roots of the sego and thistle. A kind of soup was made by cooking raw-hides. Yet in the midst of these times Heber C. Kimball declared in a public meeting that it would not be three years before "states goods" would be sold in Salt Lake cheaper than in St. Louis. No one at that time could see how it could be possible, but the prophecy was fulfilled within a year, and it was in this way: That winter gold was discovered in California, and early the next summer great companies of men came flocking from the east on their way to the gold mines. Salt Lake City was a sort of half way house. These gold seekers were heavily laden with all manner of goods, but being anxious to get to California as soon as possible they traded to the people in Salt Lake City their goods for lighter wagons, fresh horses, etc. Thus a great deal of merchandise was brought to the valley, and Brother Kimball's prophecy was fulfilled.

The city had now been laid out into blocks, and lots were given to the settlers. Some built houses and moved in that fall, but most of the people remained in the fort until the spring of 1849.

The city now began to grow rapidly, as companies of Saints were continually coming from the east. In February, 1849, the city was divided into nineteen wards and a bishop appointed over each. On the 12th of the same month the four vacancies in the quorum of the Twelve Apostles were filled by the calling of Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, and Franklin D. Richards to the apostleship.

Thus the Church was firmly established again, this time in the peaceful valleys of the mountains, away from the persecution of its enemies and the anger of mobs.

Topics.—1. Locating the temple and city. 2. The fort. 3. The crickets and gulls. 4. Hard times. 5. Heber C. Kimball's prophecy.

Questions and Review.1. How did President Young locate the temple spot? 2. How was the city laid out? 3. What was the first building in the valley? 4. Describe a bowery. 5. What was the fort? 6. Describe it. 7. Who was the first stake president in Utah? 8. What happened in the spring of 1848? 9. How were the crops saved? 10. Why was food so scarce in 1848? 11. What kinds of food were eaten? 12. What was Heber C. Kimball's prophecy? 13. How was it fulfilled? 14. How was the city built up? 15. What apostles were chosen February 12, 1849?