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

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Growth Of Utah And The Church


As you were told in the last chapter, among the first things done by the pioneers was to send exploring parties out to find other locations for settlement. They knew that thousands of Saints would follow them to their new home, and room must be had for them.

In the first company that followed the pioneers was Peregrine Sessions. He, with some others, moved north from the pioneer camp and settled in what is now Davis county. Further north, at the junction of the Weber and Ogden rivers, there lived, before the pioneers came, a trapper and trader by the name of Goodyear. He claimed a large area of land, nearly all of what is now Weber county, saying that the Mexican government had granted it to him. This claim he sold in 1847 to Captain James Brown of the Mormon Battalion for the sum of $3,000. In the spring of 1848, Captain Brown with his sons moved to the new location and began putting in crops. They were told that frost would kill the corn before it could ripen, but they worked on, and in the fall reaped a large harvest. Soon other families moved in, to whom Captain Brown gave land. Thus Ogden city and Weber county had their beginning.

Early in the spring of 1849, the first settlers moved south from Salt Lake City. They consisted of thirty families led by John S. Higbee, one of the pioneers. They settled on Provo river, built a fort for protection, and then began plowing and planting. There were quite a number of Indians in that part. Their head chief was Sowiette, and under him was Chief Walker. The first was a kind Indian who wished to live in peace with the whites; but not so with Walker who delighted in stealing and fighting.

For some months everything went well with the Provo settlers, but in the fall the Indians began stealing, and once in awhile an arrow came uncomfortably near some settler when away from the fort. At length a party of men who were out searching for stolen cattle, had a fight with a band of Indians in which five of the savages were killed.

The settlers in the fort were now continually annoyed, until in February, 1850, a company of militia was sent from Salt Lake City to their aid. A fierce battle ensued, in which a number were killed on both sides, and the Indians were scattered to the mountains.

It was President Young's policy not to harm the Indians if possible, saying that it was cheaper to feed them than to fight them. But even this kind policy did not altogether prevent trouble with these wild people. In 1853, the Indians, led by Chief Walker, made war on the southern settlements, with the result that about twenty whites and a great many Indians were killed.

At the close of the war with Mexico all this western country became a part of the United States. At a convention held in Salt Lake City, March 4, 1849, the people asked Congress for a territorial organization. Later, a petition was sent asking to be admitted into the Union under the name of "The State of Deseret." Until Congress could act, a temporary government was formed which existed for nearly two years. President Young was elected governor, and there were the other officers usually found in a state. September 9, 1850, Congress passed an act organizing Utah Territory. President Millard Fillmore appointed Brigham Young as governor. Out of the six other officers, three were "Mormons," and three non-"Mormons" from the East.At a conference held in Salt Lake City, October 6, 1849, a number of elders were called to new mission fields. John Taylor, Curtis E. Bolton, and John Pack were sent to France; Erastus Snow and Peter O. Hansen to Denmark; John Forsgren to Sweden; Lorenzo Snow and Joseph Toronto to Italy; Addison Pratt, James S. Brown, and Hiram H. Blackwell, to the Society Islands. Brother Pratt had but recently returned from a five years mission to these islands, where twelve hundred souls had been baptized into the Church.

At the April conference, 1851, Edward Hunter was chosen to succeed Newel K. Whitney as bishop of the Church. There were at that time about thirty thousand people in Utah.

President Young and the Apostles traveled much throughout the Territory, locating settlements, organizing wards and putting the Church in order. At the October conference, 1853, some of the leading brethren were called to locate in different parts of the Territory. Among them were Elders George A. Smith and Erastus Snow with fifty families who were called to strengthen Iron county, and Elder Lorenzo Snow with fifty families to go to Box Elder.

In the summer of 1854 the grasshoppers did much damage to the crops, and again in 1855 in many parts these insects took every green thing. This brought on another scarcity. There was much suffering and again the people were compelled to live on roots. A number of the brethren had stored up some grain which they now shared with those who had none. In this way all fared very much alike and the hardships were shared by all.

In the winter of 1856 a very sad thing happened. That year some emigrants came to Utah in handcart companies. Small, two wheeled carts were made at the place of starting in Iowa. On these carts were loaded baggage and provisions, and the men and boys pulled them across the plains. Sometimes the women and girls helped. A few ox teams usually hauled the heaviest loads in wagons, and in this way the Saints walked and pulled their carts over the thirteen hundred miles of their journey. This plan succeeded very well for those who started early and reached the valley in good time, but a number of companies started too late and were caught in fierce snow storms in the mountains. Many of these poor travelers died from hunger and cold, and if it had not been for some of the brethren who came out from Salt Lake to their help, no doubt most of them would have perished.

Topics.—1. Making settlements. 2. Trouble with the Indians. 3. Organizing Utah Territory. 4. Famine of 1855-6. 5. The handcart companies.

Questions and Review.1. Where was the second settlement in Utah made? 2. When and by whom was Ogden settled? 3. Tell about the settlement of Provo. 4. What trouble did the Provo settlers have? 5. What was President Young's Indian policy? 6. Who was Chief Walker? 7. What was done March 4, 1849? 8. What did the people wish to name the state? 9. When was Utah Territory organized? 10. Who was the first governor? 11. Name the first missionaries to France; to Denmark; to Sweden; to Italy; to the Society Islands. 12. Tell something about these missions. 13. Tell about the work of the Church leaders in making settlements, etc. 14. What was the cause of the famine in 1855-6? 15. What were the handcart companies?