A Young Folks' History of the Church HTML version
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
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
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. The