Norman Taylor — 1847 to 1848
A Year in the Life of Norman Taylor 1847 to 1848
Events of the Spring of 1847
In the Spring of 1847, Brigham Young called 143 men to form the Pioneer camp and organized them according to the revelation he had received during the Winter of 1846-47. The camp in its march usually observed ‘The Lord’s Day’ by resting from their journey and holding religious services. Only the emergencies of securing food for their animals, the necessity of making some point for encampment or fording streams to that end, seem to have occasioned the breaches of this custom. There was at times much merriment in camp. There were musical instruments brought along by who could play them. There was dancing, occasionally, notwithstanding the absence of ladies; the games of quoits, of checkers, some card-playing for amusement, scuffling, wrestling, the telling of humorous stories of doubtful propriety, loud laughter, the playing of practical jokes and the like were indulged in. If these things were an offense in a company made up of churchmen engaged in a New Dispensation of the gospel of the Christ, seeking then a home for the exiles of a religious persecution, it should be remembered that in the main the company was composed of young men (Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were then forty-six years old, respectively; and Willard Richards forty-three). These were the recognized leaders of the camp; the rest of the personnel of the pioneers, with very few exceptions, ranged below this age, and many of them far below it. They were possessed of the exuberance natural to youth, alive in a new atmosphere of freedom, open plains, and boundless physical prospects, to which environment their souls were unconsciously expanding.
All this may be urged in extenuation of the sport-loving spirit of the camp; but it did not appeal to the leader, Brigham Young. It should always be remembered, that Brigham was of Puritan extraction, and in sympathy with that stern school of moral uprightness by training as well as by birth. What he regarded as the somewhat lax camp life of his associates did not escape censure. He had promised the camp that if they would attend strictly to their duties, abide his counsels and observe his directions, they should go safely, and they and their teams be preserved from the Indians and from every enemy. When completing the organization of the camp on the Elkhorn he had predicted their success upon the condition of their faithfulness, humility, vigilance, and prayerfulness while on the journey, and if they would go in such manner as to claim the blessing of heaven. He therefore reproved the camp from time to time for its tendency to lightmindedness, and sternly reminded his brethren of their obligations to humility and sober-mindedness.
Finally, respecting these matters, things reached a climax on Saturday the 29th of May. The morning of that day was cold and rainy. The horn for gathering up the horses and cattle was sounded, but instead of proceeding on the journey, President Young required each captain to call out his men and each group to stand by itself. It was found that when this was done the whole camp, excepting two, were present, and these two were out hunting. President Young then addressed himself to the camp in the following terms (the account is from Woodruff’s Journal). “I am about to revolt from traveling with this camp any further with the spirit they now possess. I had rather risk myself among the savages with ten men that are men of faith, men of mighty prayer, men of God, than to be with this whole camp when they forget God and turn their hearts to folly and wickedness. Yes, I had rather be alone; and I am now resolved not to go any further with the camp unless you will covenant to humble yourselves before the Lord and serve him and quit your folly and wickedness. For a week past nearly the whole camp has been card-playing, and checkers and dominoes have occupied the attention of the brethren. Dancing and `hoeing down’ have been the act continually. Now, it is quite time to quit it. There have been trials and law suits upon every nonsensical thing. If those things are suffered to go on, it will be but a short time before you will be fighting, knocking each other down, and taking life. It is high time it was stopped.”
Brigham continued in this spirit to admonish and reprove the camp, showing the brethren how inconsistent the course of the camp had been for a week past or more, for men who were going to seek out a location in the mountains for a resting place for the saints, even the whole church of God, who have been driven out from the Gentiles and rejected of them; . . . a resting place for the saints where the standard of the kingdom of God would be reared, and a banner unfurled for the nations to gather unto.
Finally he called first upon his fellow apostles of the Twelve to know if they were willing to humble themselves before the Lord and covenant to do right; if so they must manifest it by the uplifted hand. Every hand in that council was raised. The same question was put to the high priests, to the seventies, to the elders, and to the members, and all unanimously covenanted to repent of their sins and keep the commandments of the Lord. President Young then addressed himself to the few members of the camp who were not members of the church as there were some present. He informed them that they would be protected in their rights, but they must not introduce wickedness in the camp, for it would not be suffered.
The day following, Sunday, was set apart as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer. Prayer meeting was held by the whole camp; and a second meeting at which the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered. “The Lord seemed to accept the offerings of our hearts,” wrote Erastus Snow that day, “and poured out His spirit upon us. The Twelve and a few others, in addition to attending these public services, went into the valley of the hills, and, according to the order of the priesthood, prayed in a circle. Two of the brethren were stationed on guard to protect these brethren from interruption by the Indians.
The repentance of the camp seems to have been most effectual as we hear no more complaint of their conduct enroute for their destination.
The personnel of the Pioneer band, was as follows. They are given as divided into companies of Tens:
First Ten–Wilford Woodruff, captain; John S. Fowler, Jacob D. Burnham, Orson Pratt, Joseph Egbert, John M. Freeman, Marcus B. Thorpe, Geo. A. Smith, Geo. Wardle.
Second Ten–Ezra T. Benson, captain; Thomas B. Grover, Barbaras L. Adams, Roswell Stevens, Amasa M. Lyman, Starling G. Driggs, Albert Carrington, Thomas Bullock, George Brown, Willard Richards, Jesse C. Little.
Third Ten–Phineas H. Young, captain; John Y. Green, Thomas Tanner, Brigham Young, Addison Everett, Truman O. Angell, Lorenzo D. Young, Bryant Stringham, Joseph S. Scofield, Albert P. Rockwood.
Fourth Ten–Luke S. Johnson, captain; John Holman, Edmund Ellsworth, Alvarus Hanks, George R. Grant, Millen Atwood, Samuel B. Fox, Tunis Rappleye, Harry Pierce, William Kykes, Jacob Weiler.
Fifth Ten–Stephen H. Goddard, captain; Tarlton Lewis, Henry G. Sherwood, Zebedee Coltrin, Sylvester H. Earl, John Dixon, Samuel H. Marble, George Scholes, William Henrie, William A. Empey.
Sixth Ten–Charles Shumway, captain; Andrew Shumway, Thos. Woolsey, Chauncey Loveland, Erastus Snow, James Craig, Wm. Wordsworth, William. Vance, Simeon Howd, Seeley Owen.
Seventh Ten–James Case, captain; Artemas Johnson, Wm. C. A. Smoot, Franklin B. Dewey, William Carter, Franklin G. Losee, Burr Frost, Datus Ensign, Franklin B. Stewart, Monroe Frink, Eric Glines, Ozro Eastman.
Eighth Ten–Seth Taft, captain; Horace Thorton, Stephen Kelsey, John S. Eldredge, Charles D. Barnum, Alma W. Williams, Rufus Allen, Robert T. Thomas, James W. Stewart, Elijah Newman, Levi N. Kendall, Francis Boggs, David Grant.
Ninth Ten–Howard Egan, captain; Heber C. Kimball, Wm. A. King, Thomas Cloward, Hosea Cushing, Robert Byard, George Billings, Edison Whipple, Philo Johnson, Willilam Clayton. Tenth Ten–Appleton M. Harmon, captain; Carlos Murray, Horace K. Whitney, Orson K. Whitney, Orrin P. Rockwell, Nathaniel T. Brown, R. Jackson Redding, John Pack, Francis Pomeroy, Aaron Farr, Nathaniel Fairbanks.
Eleventh Ten–John S. Higbee, captain; John Wheeler, Solomon Chamberlain, Conrad Klineman, Joseph Rooker, Perry Fitzgerald, John H. Tippetts, James Davenport, Henson Walker, Benjamin Rolfe.
Twelfth Ten–Norton Jacobs, captain; Charles A. Harper, George Woodward, Stephen Markham, Lewis Barney, George Mills, Andrew Gibbons, Joseph Hancock, John W. Norton. Thirteenth Ten–John Brown, captain; Shadrach Roundy, Levi Jackman, Lyman Curtis, Hans C. Hansen, Mathew Ivory, David Powers, Hark Lay (colored), Oscar Crosby (colored). Fourteenth Ten–Joseph Mathews, captain; Gilbroid Summe, John Gleason, Charles Burke, Alexander P. Chessley, Rodney Badger, Norman Taylor, Green Flake (colored), Ellis Eames, who, it will be remembered, returned to Winter Quarters from the Pioneer camp on the 18th of April on account of sickness.
Besides the men, there were three women and two children in the camp. Their names are given in the text of this History, and their presence in the camp is also explained.
March 22, 1847
The morning was cold, blustery, with driving snow showers. At 1 p.m., Brigham Young met with the Twelve, the presidents of the companies, and the captains of the divisions in the Council House. They discussed modifying the plans for the pioneer company. The Twelve and others in the lead pioneer company would leave behind their families until a place could be prepared for them over the mountains. The pioneers would proceed all the way to the Great Basin and would take enough provisions to last two years. There would be two pioneers for each wagon. About one hundred small families could follow after the pioneer group, including as many of the battalion families as possible. They should have two years provisions and bring fresh supplies for the pioneers. The pioneers would return and bring their families forward the following spring. In the evening, a meeting was held with the bishops to discuss caring for the poor. Brigham Young spoke about patriarchal blessings and the blessing of children. He said that any father who held the priesthood was a patriarch to his own family and when he blessed his family, it was a patriarchal blessing. These blessings could be recorded.
March 29, 1847
A meeting was held in the Council House with the captains of the companies and the pioneers. Twenty-five pioneers reported that they were ready to start the journey. Thirty-two others said they would be ready within two days. Brigham Young requested that those who were ready should assist moving families up to Summer Quarters, about twenty miles to the north. John D. Lee was appointed to move his family to the farm. Ezra T. Benson would act in his place as a captain in the pioneer company. Some of the pioneer were to start the journey to the Elkhorn river on the following morning.
It was no part of the original plan to include women and children in the Pioneer company, remarks Orson F. Whitney, in his History of Utah. “The hardships and dangers in prospect were foreseen to be such as would test the strength and endurance of the hardiest and healthiest of men.” Men of that class only had been chosen. But Harriet Page Wheeler Young, the wife of Lorenzo D. Young, brother of Brigham Young, being in feeble health, and her life imperiled by the malarial atmosphere of the Missouri bottoms, pleaded successfully for the privilege of accompanying her husband to the mountains. The other two women were Clara Decker Young, wife of President Brigham Young, and Ellen Sanders Kimball, wife of Heber C. Kimball. The success of the first of the trio — born of her necessities — made possible the permission for the other two; and it speaks well for the discipline of the people that the rule that men only should constitute the Pioneer company, thus infringed, was not further violated. The children were Isaac Perry Decker, son of Mrs. Lorenzo D. Young, by a former husband, and Lorenzo Sobieski Young, by her present husband.
A terrible accident occurred. Two mules were hitched to a blacksmith shop. They pulled down the shop and timbers fell upon several men at work in the shop. Wilford Woodruff reported, “A large stick fell upon the head of Brother Little John Utley and it was a wonder that it had not broken his head and neck both. It injured him severely. He was carried into the house. Several of us laid hands upon him and prayed with him.
March 30, 1847
April 5, 1847 is traditionally recognized as the start of the historic pioneer journey of 1847. However, in reality, , March 30 may have been the first day some pioneers moved out of Winter Quarters. Tarlton Lewis and Stephen H. Goddard probably left on this day to start traveling to the Elk Horn River, thirty-four miles to west, to build a raft to be used to cross the river. Heber C. Kimball had six wagons ready for the journey. Horace K. Whitney and his brother Orson were flying around getting ready to start. In the afternoon and evening, Brigham Young met with the Twelve and discussed plans for the pioneer journey. A concert was held in the evening by William McCarey.
April 5, 1847
The weather was cloudy, with occasional thunder showers on this historic day. Heber C. Kimball officially started the pioneer journey. He left Winter Quarters with six teams, traveled four miles to the west and made an encampment for the night near the hay stacks. Elder Kimball wrote about this historic day: “On the 5th day of April, 1847, I started with six of my teams and went out about four miles, where I formed an encampment with several others of my division. The same day I returned home.” Wilford Woodruff intended to start the journey but delayed his start because of heavy rain during the morning. Horace K. Whitney loaded his wagon during the afternoon after the skies cleared.
April 15, 1847
The group of pioneers traveling with Brigham Young crossed the Elkhorn River at about 11 a.m. and journeyed west along the Platte River. They overtook and were joined by Wilford Woodruff and Orson Pratt. Thomas Bullock and George A. Smith’s wagons became stuck in the mud, but were pulled out by doubling the teams. At about 3 p.m., all arrived at the pioneer camp established at the site of the future Liberty Pole camp. Most of the pioneers arrived during the afternoon.
Liberty Pole Camp, Nebraska: The morning was cool and pleasant. Howard Egan and William A. King conducted a search for Brother Egan’s lost horse. It was finally found ten miles from camp. Some of the pioneers traveled back to the Elkhorn to fish. After Brigham Young arrived into the camp, he had supper with his brother, Lorenzo. During the evening, Elder Jesse C. Little arrived into the camp from his mission to the Eastern States. He had been presiding over the Church in the East and had been asked to join the pioneer company. He arrived at Winter Quarters, left all his things, and rushed to join the pioneers. He brought news of their friend Thomas L. Kane, who sent presents for the Twelve. Wilford Woodruff received a Patent Life Preserver and Stop Compass.
The camp was called together as usual to assign the guard, but they were so slow in assembling that President Young stood upon a wagon tongue and called out, “Attention, the Camp of Israel!” This time, the brethren quickly assembled. President Young spoke to them about being faithful, humble and prayerful on the journey. He cautioned the camp to be on their guard against possible Indian raids because it was rumored that the Indian Agents and Protestant missionaries were stirring up the Indians to steal horses and goods from the Saints. He admonished the pioneers to retire early to bed each night and to rest on the Sabbath. He stated that their lives should be conducted in such a way that they would be able to claim the blessings of Heaven, and that they should cease playing music, dancing, and lightmindedness.
A number of rules were established. 1- A bugle would blow each morning at 5 a.m. Each man was to arise, pray, take care of the teams, get breakfast, and be prepared to travel by 7 a.m. 2- Each man was to have a loaded gun within reach while walking beside their team. 3- The camp would halt at noon to rest the animals and to eat a pre-cooked lunch. 4- In the evening, the wagons were to be in a circle, with the animals inside. 5- The bugle would blow at 8:30 p.m. Everyone was to return to their wagon, pray, fires put out, and into bed by 9 p.m. 6- The camp would travel together and no one would stray very far away. 7- No one would be idle and each should look after his brother’s cattle. 8- Guns should be taken care of and protected. 9- A guard would attend to the cannon in the rear and see that nothing was left behind.
April 16, 1847
The morning was gloomy, windy, and cold. At 8 a.m., the pioneer company was called together by the bugle. They assembled near the rear of Brigham Young’s wagon. A prayer was offered, after which George A. Smith and Heber C. Kimball gave instructions. Elder Smith spoke upon the necessity of strictness of discipline, for our preservation. Elder Kimball said if there was any along who did not like to obey the necessary rules of the camp, without murmuring, to turn back now. He reminded them of the deaths that occurred in Zion’s Camp led by Joseph Smith because of murmuring against their leader. The company all knelt down and President Young offered a prayer to dedicate the mission and all that they had to the Lord. Bishop Newel K. Whitney shared some parting remarks for the pioneers, as he was about to return to Winter Quarters. He promised to do all he could back at Winter Quarters to help the families of the pioneers. His heart was full and he had difficulty expressing his feelings as he bid his brothers farewell. He encouraged them to obey counsel and then blessed them by all his authority. Joseph B. Nobles, who was also returning, expressed his warm feelings and best wishes to the pioneers.
The pioneers were organized into a military capacity with Stephen Markham and Albert P. Rockwood to serve as Captains of Hundreds. The Captains of Fifties were: Tarlton Lewis, James Case, Addison Everett, John Pack and Shadrach Roundy. The Captains of Tens were elected and then they selected fifty men to be divided into four watches to stand guard over the camp. The pioneer camp numbered 143 men and youth, three women, and Lorenzo Young’s two children, Isaac Perry Decker (age six) and Lorenzo Sobieski Young (age six). There were 72 (or 73) wagons, 93 horses, 52 mules, 66 oxen, 19 cows, 17 dogs, and some chickens.
President Young promised that if they would abide his council and observe his directions, they should go safe, and they and their teams be preserved from the Indians and from every enemy. Willard Richards wrote a letter for the Twelve to be carried back to Winter Quarters for Patriarch John Smith, the presiding authority over the community. “Beloved brethren: We have now completed the organization of the Pioneer company, of which we are members, and whom we are about to lead to the mountains, or over the mountains, as we shall be commanded by our leader, in search of a resting place for ourselves, our families and all who desire to follow us and work righteousness; and by doing this, we prove . . . that we are willing to take our full share of trouble, trials, losses and crosses, hardships, fatigues, warning and watching, for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake . . . and if we fail in the attempt, having done all we could, our Father will not leave his flock without a shepherd.” The letter further instructed that the first company to follow after the pioneers was to carry the Nauvoo Temple bell with all the fixtures for hanging. It should be rung at the proper times to call the people to prayers and other duties. The bell may be needed, particularly in the night, if the Indians hove around, to let them know that you are at your duty. They were warned to not send any companies after July 1st, because news had arrived that thirty people in a company [probably the Donner-Reed party] had perished in the mountains.
Heber C. Kimball, quickly wrote a letter to his wife Vilate. “I am well and in good spirits. So is the camp. Now my dear Vilate, I Love you as true as I am [capable] of loving according to my capacity, for you do have the love of my youth which is first, last, and now and forever.” He sent back money and told her to keep the gifts from Thomas L. Kane, brought by Jesse C. Little. He added, “Kiss and bless those little ones.” Howard Egan later read this letter before it was sent and commented: “It portrayed the feelings of his heart and his affection for his family, in the most simple and beautiful language that would touch the soul and cause the heart to rejoice.”
Brigham Young wrote a letter to be sent to George Watt in the British Isles. He was asked to purchase 200 pounds of phonotype to be used to print a book next year in Winter Quarters. Elder Orson Spencer should assist him in this mission. “By our date you will perceive that we are on our way to find a location for a Stake of Zion, beyond the mountains; but we expect to spend the next winter at Winter Quarters. We have time to say but little; neither is it necessary only our camp is in good health and fine spirits.”
At about noon, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Jesse C. Little, Joseph B. Nobles, Newel K. Whitney, Lyman Whitney, Joshua Whitney, Jackson Redden, and William Kimball started their journey back to Winter Quarters. Some of the men were returning to help Brother Little bring his things from Winter Quarters. The pioneers started their journey again about 2 p.m. Each company of ten traveled together. They traveled about three miles and camped for the night near a good grove of timber and island of rushes. The wagons were arranged in a line about six hundred yards from the timber. The horses and cattle were taken down to the timber where trees were cut down, a fence made for the horses, and a guard placed around them. William Clayton shared a quilt with Philo Johnson but was very cold during the night. The wind blew very hard.
April 17, 1847
The pioneers woke up to a very cold morning — twenty-six degrees. Ice at least a half inch thick was found on their standing water. They started out at 9 a.m., and traveled on a difficult sandy road. The wind was blowing very hard as they traveled through present-day Fremont, Nebraska. At noon, after about seven miles, they camped by a cottonwood grove. Because there was no grass, the pioneers chopped down hundreds of trees for the teams to feed on. They prepared to stay over at this camp on the next day, Sunday. The wagons were formed into a long line, parallel to the river. A small lake was found nearby, but the water was poor. In the afternoon, some traders arrived from the west, from the Pawnee Village. They shared with the pioneers dried buffalo meat and warned them that they were two days journey from a large body of Pawnees. The traders had a wagon loaded with buffalo robes and they camped nearby.
At 5 p.m., the bugle was sounded, and the pioneer camp was called together for a meeting. The company was further organized into a military regiment. Brigham Young was elected Lieutenant General of the company. Stephen Markham, Colonel, Shadrach Roundy and John Pack, majors. The captains of tens were also re-elected into this organization: Wilford Woodruff, Ezra T. Benson, Phinehas H. Young, Luke S. Johnson, Stephen H. Goddard, Charles Shumway, James Case, Seth Taft, Appleton M. Harmon, John Higby, Norton Jacob, John Brown and Joseph Matthews. Thomas Tanner was elected Captain of the Cannoniers and Thomas Bullock as the clerk of the Company. Brigham Young instructed: After we start from here, every man must keep his loaded gun in his hand, or in the wagon where he can put his hand on it at a moment’s warning. If they are cap locks, take off the cap and put on a little leather to keep the wet out. If flint locks, take out the priming and fill the pan with twine or cotton, He further reminded the men that the wagons must travel together, not separate as was previously done. He instructed the Captains of Tens to no longer permit a man to leave their ten to go off and shoot prairie chickens, ducks, or deer, for fear that the Indians would harm them. In the evening, Ellis Eames and Hans C. Hansen entertained the camp with music from their violins. William Clayton wrote, “All peace and quietness. Brother Eames prepared to return to Winter Quarters because of sickness. Howard Egan, however, felt that the true reason was that he is weak in the faith.”
June 1, 1847
The Pioneer camp arrived opposite Fort Laramie. Here the Black Hills project abruptly down from the north to the banks of the Platte river, and the Pioneers learned that further progress with wagons on the north bank of that stream was impracticable, and preparations had to be made for crossing over to the south bank. The distance from Winter Quarters to the point they had now reached was 543 miles. The company had a good road from Winter Quarters to Loupe Fork, a distance of about 140 miles, but for four hundred miles the Pioneers had made a new trail across the plains, and now were about one half the distance from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake valley.
May-July, 1847 — Orson Pratt, Pioneer Of The Pioneer Company
The appointment of Orson Pratt to the leadership of the special party that was to become the pioneer party of the Pioneers in the last stages of their journey, is one that came about by a natural force operating among men, by which men that are fit rise to their proper place. Orson Pratt was appointed to this leadership because in the things now required–engineering skill and science–he had been leading all along. His place was always in the van, and even leading that van, and this from the very nature of the duties required of him, as being placed in charge of and using, the splendid set of scientific instruments carried in the camp–and which he alone, perhaps, could use. Hence it will be found both in his own journal and in the journals of others, that he is always in the lead, and consulted with reference to all the engineering problems that confronted the Pioneers on their journey. Of the pioneer journey resembling in some respects a scientific expedition I have already spoken in the text of chapter lxxviii of this History and of Elder Pratt’s ascertaining, and registering the latitude, longitude, altitude, geological structure of the country, together with notices of the flora and fauna of the country through which the pioneer route passed. Also in the matter of the construction of the pioneer odometer it is quite probable that the scientific principles on which it was constructed were largely furnished by him. The following entry in his Journal for the 6th of May, would justify such a conclusion: “For several days past, Mr. Clayton, and several others, have been thinking upon the best method of attaching some machinery to a wagon, to indicate the number of miles daily traveled. I was requested this forenoon, by Mr. B. Young, to give this subject some attention; accordingly, this afternoon, I proposed the following method: Let a wagon wheel be of such a circumference, that 360 revolutions make one mile. (It happens that one of the requisite dimensions is now in camp). Let this wheel act upon a screw, in such a manner, that six revolutions of wagon wheel shall give the screw one revolution. Let the threads of this screw act upon a wheel of sixty cogs, which shall evidently perform one revolution per mile. Let this wheel of sixty cogs be the head of another screw, acting upon another wheel of thirty cogs, it is evident that in the movements of this second wheel, each cog will represent one mile. Now, if the cogs were numbered from 0 to 30, the number of miles traveled will be indicated during every part of the day. Let every sixth cog of the first wheel be numbered from 0 to 10, and this division will indicate the fractional part of a mile, or tenths; while if any one should be desirous to ascertain still smaller divisional fractions, each cog between this division will give five and one-third rods. This machinery (which may be called the double endless screw) will be simple in its construction, and of very small bulk, requiring scarcely any sensible additional power, and the knowledge obtained respecting distances in traveling will certainly be very satisfactory to every traveler, especially in a country but little known. The weight of this machinery need not exceed three pounds.”
At the time of his pioneering the way into Salt Lake valley in July, 1847, Orson Pratt was thirty-six years of age, of only medium height, spare-built, but hard and sinewy, capable of great physical endurance, intense and long mental application. Tireless energy was his, and absolute devotion to assigned duty; simple faith mingled with large and absolute trust in God marked the outlines of character in this pioneer–this apostle of Jesus Christ in the New Dispensation of the gospel. Following are the names of the forty-two men who made up Pratt’s advance company:
Orson Pratt (commanding), Stephen Markham (aid), John Brown, C. D. Barnum, Charles Burk, Francis Boggs, A. P. Chessley, Oscar Crosby (colored), Lyman Curtis, James Chessney, Walter Crow, John Crow, Robert Crow, Walter H. Crow, Benjamin B. Crow, John S. Eldredge, Joseph Egbert, Nathaniel Fairbanks, John S. Freeman, Green Flake (colored), John S. Gleason, David Grant, Hans G. Hansen, Levi Jackman, Stephen Kelsey, Levi N. Kendall, Hark Lay (colored), Joseph Mathews, Elijah Newman, David Power, Lewis B. Myers, O. P. Rockwell, Jackson Redding, Shadrach Roundy, James W. Stewart, Gilbroid Summe, Horace Thornton, Marcus B. Thorpe, George W. Therlkill, Norman Taylor, Seth Taft, Robert Thomas.
So interesting and important to our History are the movements of these early pioneer companies through portions of the country later to comprise parts of Utah–the land occupied by the Latter-day Saints–that I quote the following from Mr. Edwin Bryant’s work: “What I saw in California, respecting the passage of the several companies through the Salt Lake valley in 1846.”
July 18, 1847
“We determined, this morning to take the new route, via the south end of the great Salt Lake. Mr. Hudspeth, with a small party, will start in advance of the emigrant companies on Monday, traveling by this route. They will make some further explorations and Mr. Hudspeth has volunteered to guide us as far as the Salt Plain, a day’s journey west of the lake. Although such was my own determination. I wrote several letters to my friends among the emigrant parties in the rear, advising them not to take this route, but to keep on the old trail, via Fort Hall. Our situation was different from theirs. We were mounted on mules, had no families, and could afford to hazard experiments, and make explorations. They could not. (p. 144.)
July 29: Mr. Hudspeth and two young men came into camp early this morning, having bivouacked last night a short distance from us, on the opposite side of the river. They had forced their way through the upper canyon, and proceeded six miles further up Weber river, where they met a train of about forty emigrant wagons under the guidance of Mr. Hastings, which left Fort Bridger the same day that we did. The difficulties to be encountered by these emigrants by the new route will commence at that point; and they will, I fear, be serious. Mr. Hudspeth thinks that the passage through the canyon is practicable, by making a road in the bed of the stream at short distances, and cutting out the timber and brush in other places. Resuming our march, we took a south course over the low hills bordering the valley in which we have been encamped. We then traveled along the base of a range of elevated mountains which slope down to the marshy plain of the lake. This plain varies in width from fifteen to two miles, becoming narrower as we approach what is called the `Utah Outlet,’ the channel through which the Utah Lake empties its waters into the Salt Lake. (pp. 158-9). The number of wagons which took the new route from Fort Bridger via the south end of the Great Salt Lake, intersecting with the old wagon trail on Mary’s river, 250 miles above the sink, was about eighty. The advance company of these was Mr. Harlan’s. The Pioneers, and those following their trail, succeeded by energetic exertions in opening a road through the difficult mountain passes near the Salt Lake, and reached the settlements of California in good season. The rear party, known as Messrs. Reed and Donner’s company, did not follow the trail of those who had preceded them, but explored for a portion of the distance, another route, and opened a new road through the Desert Basin. In making these explorations and from other causes, they lost a month’s time, the consequence of which was, that they did not reach the pass of the Sierra Nevada until the 31st of October, when they should have been there by the 1st of October.
The complete entry in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal for July 24, 1847
This is an important day in the history of my life and the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On this important day, after traveling from our encampment six miles through the deep ravine-valley ending with the canyon through the Last Creek, we came in full view of the great valley or basin [of the] Salt Lake and the land of promise held in reserve by the hand of God for a resting place for the saints upon which a portion of the Zion of God will be built. We gazed with wonder and admiration upon the vast, rich, fertile valley which lay for about twenty-five miles in length and 16 miles in width, clothed with the heaviest garb of green vegetation in the midst of which lay a large lake of salt water of —- miles in extent, in which could be seen large islands and mountains towering towards the clouds; also a glorious valley abounding with the best fresh water springs, riverlets, creeks, brooks and rivers of various sizes all of which gave animation to the sporting trout and other fish, while the waters were wending their way into the great Salt Lake. Our hearts were surely made glad after a hard journey–from Winter Quarters–of 1200 miles through flats of Platte river and steeps of the Black Hills and the Rocky Mountains, and burning sands of the eternal sage region, and willow swales and rocky canyons and stumps and stones–to gaze upon a valley of such vast extent entirely surrounded with a perfect chain of everlasting hills and mountains, covered with eternal snows, with their innumerable peaks like pyramids towering towards heaven, presenting at one view the grandest and most sublime scenery that could be obtained on the globe. Thoughts of pleasing meditation ran in rapid succession through our minds while we contemplated that not many years hence t the House of God would stand upon the top of the mountains, while the valleys would be converted into orchards, vineyards, gardens and fields by the inhabitants of Zion, the standard be unfurled for the nations to gather thereto.
President Young expressed his full satisfaction in the appearance of the valley as a resting place for the saints, and was amply repaid for his journey. After gazing awhile upon the scenery we traveled across the table lands into the valley four miles, to the encampment of our brethren who had arrived two days before us. They had pitched their encampment upon the bank of two small streams of pure water and had commenced plowing and had broken about five acres of ground and commenced planting potatoes. As soon as we were located in the encampment, before I took my dinner, having one-half bushels of potatoes I repaired to the plowed field and planted my potatoes, hoping with the blessings of God at least to save the seed for another year. The brethren had dammed up one of the creeks and dug a trench, and by night nearly the whole ground was irrigated with water. We found the ground very dry. Towards evening, in company with Brothers Kimball, Smith and Benson, I rode several miles up the creek into the mountains to look for timber and see the country, etc. There was a thunder shower and it extended nearly over the whole valley, also it rained some the forepart of the night, we felt thankful for this as it was the general opinion that it did not rain in the valley during the summer time.
Aug. 15, 1847
On Sunday, the pioneer Saints met at 10 a.m. to listen to President Brigham Young preach. He spoke about that priesthood, which had been restored to the prophet, Joseph Smith. Some have had fears that we had not power to get revelations since the death of Joseph. But I want this subject from this time forth to be forever set at rest. He testified that the apostles held the keys, power, and authority which had been held by Joseph Smith. He referred to the sad death of three-year-old Milton Howard Therlkill, who had been drowned in City Creek during the previous week. It is true that all children are saved. Their names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. He explained that such little children could be sealed to their parents through the ordinances of the temple. As soon as we get up some adobe houses for our families we shall go to work to build another temple.
A sacrament meeting was held in the afternoon. Orson Pratt addressed the congregation about the ordinances of the gospel. Later in the day, Brigham Young organized a company of seventy men who would head back with ox teams to Winter Quarters, this company became known as the Ox team company. Their leaders would be Shadrach Roundy and Tunis Rappleye. Young Norman Taylor (18 years old) was asked to drive one of the teams of oxen back to Winter Quarters with this company. He gladly jumped at the opportunity to return to his family with the other men (the Taylor family would not be financially able to make the journey to Salt Lake Valley until 1850). Those who were members of the Mormon Battalion were asked to leave their guns in the valley with Brigham Young. On this day, the first four chickens were hatched in Great Salt Lake City. The hen belonged to Stephen H. Goddard.
Aug. 16, 1847
On Monday, the returning company started to gather at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. The company consisted of 24 pioneers [including N. Taylor], 46 battalion soldiers, 34 wagons, 92 yoke of oxen, 18 horses, and 14 mules. William Clayton fixed the roadometer which would also be used for the return trip. At noon, Brigham Young and other members of the Twelve met at President Young’s tent to name the streets around the Temple Block: East Temple Street, South Temple Street, West Temple Street, North Temple Street, and other streets such as First South Street, Second South Street, etc.
Aug. 17-21, 1847
On Tuesday, the Ox Team Company started their journey to Winter Quarters. Before leaving, they were addressed by Heber C. Kimball. He exhorted them to dedicate themselves to the Lord and obey council. As the company departed, Heber C. Kimball, Thomas Bullock and others left the canyon by riding to the top of Donner Hill. They had a splendid view of the valley. By Thursday the returning company reached Echo Canyon, on Friday, they arrived at Cache Cave, and on Saturday, they crossed the Bear River in present-day Wyoming. Throughout the week, the pioneers in the valley were very busy building log houses and working on the fort. By Wednesday, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball had nine houses ready to receive roofs. The north adobe wall around the fort had received five feet high.
Aug. 23, 1847
On Monday, the returning group of seventy pioneers, including Norman Taylor, and battalion members led by Shadrach Roundy, Tunis Rappleye, and William Willis arrived at Fort Bridger. William Clayton wrote: We found the grass pretty much eaten off and only stayed an hour and a half while some of the brethren traded some. On Wednesday, they reached the Green River crossing, and on Thursday, at Big Sandy, they met the express led by Ezra T. Benson, heading west after their visit with the Big Company of pioneers. They reported that this huge second pioneer company consisted of 566 wagons and about 5,000 head of stock.
Aug. 26, 1847
On Thursday, the returning pioneers, under the direction of Brigham Young, including a large number of battalion soldiers, harnessed up their horses and bid farewell to their friends who remained behind. Brigham Young shouted, Good-bye all who tarry, I feel well! Harriet Young, wife of Lorenzo Young wrote: This day has been a lonesome one. Brigham and Heber with a number of Brethren started for Winter Quarters and we feel as if we were left alone. This returning group consisted of 108 men [Norman Taylor among them as mentioned earlier]. As they left their new city, they noticed that the corn was about a foot high and the buckwheat was doing fine. Thomas Bullock wrote: We go by the farm which looks in a very healthy condition and also the garden, but many of the seeds had not grown. Many large birds flying about.
Aug. 27, 1847
On Friday, while descending into East Canyon, Brigham Young prayed that the time would soon come that every man, woman and child would have as much food to eat as they needed. He also expressed his fear that some people would be wasteful in the valley, bringing down the displeasure of the Lord. By Saturday, the returning pioneers reached Echo Canyon.
Aug. 28, 1847
On Saturday, the returning Ox Team Company, with Norman Taylor, reached Pacific Creek, just west of the Continental Divide.
Aug. 29, 1847
The returning pioneer company of 107 men [one man had by this time turned back] traveled fifteen miles on Sunday morning, and soon met the express led by Ezra T. Benson. Elder Benson and others left the Salt Lake Valley on horses, on August 2nd, to find the second company of pioneers, and bring back word from them. They found the company on August 16th, 40 miles west of Fort Laramie. Wilford Woodruff wrote of the joy in meeting these returning messengers: They were truly welcome messengers, for our anxiety had been very great to hear from our families and the camp, and to our joy we heard from them this day. For the first time, they realized how huge the second company of pioneers was — nine companies of nearly 600 wagons, more than 1,500 people. The pioneers received letters for the first time from their families. John Young and Nelson Higgins were sent back to Great Salt Lake City with a package of twenty-two letters. Ezra T. Benson, joined the company of returning pioneers. On Tuesday, the company arrived at Fort Bridger and traded at the fort.
Sept. 3, 1847
On Friday, Brigham Young’s company camped on the Big Sandy River, and were overjoyed to meet Daniel Spencer’s hundred, part of the Big Company of pioneers heading to the valley. Isaac C. Haight wrote: We felt to thank the Lord to see them again. A meeting was held in the evening when the Saints were able to hear for the first time in many months, the preaching of Brigham Young. George A. Smith gave a graphic description of the Salt Lake Valley.
September 4, 1847
On Saturday, Brigham Young and the returning pioneers met more of the Big Company and were reunited with apostle, Parley P. Pratt. [John Taylor was many miles further to the east with the rear companies.] Patty Sessions recorded: Here the pioneers come to us. It made our hearts glad to see them. They stayed all night with us, ate and drank with us. In the afternoon a council meeting was held of the Twelve apostles. Brigham Young was displeased with the organization of the camp and reproved Elder P. P. Pratt sharply for undoing the organization that had been established at Winter Quarters, by revelation, before the pioneers left in the spring. Elder Pratt wrote: “In short, I was severely reproved and chastened. I no doubt deserved this chastisement; and I humbled myself, acknowledged my faults and errors, and asked forgiveness. I was frankly forgiven, and, bidding each other farewell, each company passed on their way. This school of experience made me more humble and careful in future, and I think it was the means of making me a wiser and better man ever after.” Wilford Woodruff observed: “Confession made and much teaching given by the President and the power of God rested upon us and our hearts melted and our eyes in tears. The President said if he did not tell us our faults we would be destroyed but if he told us of them and reproved us, we would live in love and our hearts be cemented together. In the evening, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball reviewed over the list of the Big Company of pioneers to select a High Council to be appointed after they arrived in Great Salt Lake City.
Sept. 5, 1847
On Sunday, the company arrived at Pacific Springs and met three companies of pioneers heading west. These companies of fifty included those led by Charles C. Rich, Abraham O. Smoot, and George B. Wallace, consisting of 162 wagons. Sarah Rich wrote: This was a time of rejoicing. Wilford Woodruff met his father and many from his ward back in Winter Quarters. The hundreds of Saints in these companies were treated with the opportunity to hear the preaching of Elders George A. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and Orson Pratt. Joseph Kingsbury recorded: They said that the land which was found was preserved for this people & that any person who enjoys the Spirit of God would know it as soon as he sees it. These companies remained with the brethren on Monday while some council meetings were held with the leaders of the Big Company [headed west].
Sept. 7, 1847
On Tuesday, they parted, and the wagons started to roll away from the campground. It was a cold day. Snow began to fall and fell all day, covering the ground. Thomas Bullock wrote: When we see all the hills tipped with snow & feel the chilling blasts of winter, it causes me to feel anxious for the safe and speedy journey of the Saints to their respective homes. The returning company traveled over South Pass and met John Taylor’s company on the Sweetwater River. A feast was prepared by this company to celebrate the meeting of Brigham Young and the other returning pioneers. Wilford Woodruff wrote: This Hundred prepared a feast for the whole Pioneer Camp & furnished a table here in the wilderness in the most splendid manner for one hundred persons. They feasted on roast, broiled beef, pies, cakes, biscuits, peach sauce, and other delicious items. John Brown observed, Such a table had never before been spread in the Rocky Mountains. Afterwards, a dance was held while the nine of the Twelve met with the company leaders.
Sept. 8, 1847
On Wednesday, the returning company pressed on and met the Jedediah M. Grant company on the Sweet Water. The Twelve met with Brother Grant and heard him rehearse the great trials experienced by this company. He brought the Pioneers news from the east. He told them of the continued warm friendship of Colonel Kane, and of the inveterate opposition of Senator Benton of Missouri. During the night, about 50 horses and mules belonging to both the returning pioneers and the Grant company, were stolen by Indians. Horsemen were sent out in pursuit of the stolen animals, but only succeeded in bringing back five of the missing horses. This loss materially weakened both encampments. Wilford Woodruff commented in his journal, It looks gloomy here, to see so many men, women and children here in the mountains with their horses and cattle stolen and breaking down so late in the season.
The following evening, the Saints were addressed by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Orson Pratt. Elder Pratt gave a description of the Salt Lake Valley. Despite losing about twenty horses to the Indians, the returning pioneers continued their journey toward Winter Quarters. They ended the week on the Sweet Water, about 45 miles west of Independence Rock, about 290 miles from the Salt Lake Valley. The Jedediah M. Grant Company, heading in the opposite direction, bringing up the rear of the Big Company, arrived at Pacific Springs [the Continental Divide].
Sept. 12-18, 1847
The Ox Team Company had run out of breadstuff, and dreaded the thought of living off of just meat for the rest of the journey. John Pack had a personal supply of flour that he chose not to share. On Wednesday, they were greeted by Luke Johnson, William Empey, and Appleton M. Harmon, who came from Fort Laramie. These brethren had manned the North Platte ferry earlier in the year, and returned to Fort Laramie after the emigrants had all crossed the river. They reported that a party of Sioux Indians had stolen seventeen horses from the Saints and were camped eighteen miles to the north. On Wednesday, the pioneers forded the North Platte near Fort Laramie and continued their journey east on the Mormon Trail. On Friday, six of the brethren decided to go ahead of the main company, and travel to Winter Quarters as quickly as possible because they had no bread. On Saturday night, John Pack’s horse was stolen. Some of the men believed the six men ahead probably stole it. On Saturday, the company camped near Scotts Bluff, about 470 miles from Winter Quarters.
Sept. 19, 1847 [near Chimney Rock, Nebraska]
On Sunday, the Ox Team Company, and Norman Taylor, camped across from Chimney Rock. They were surrounded by many herds of buffalo.
Sept. 21, 1847
On Tuesday, some of the men crossed the Platte River to enjoy of feast of buffalo ribs with some Frenchmen. Rain started to fall on Tuesday and the weather turned colder. Part of the company had been detained at Fort Laramie, looking for horses. At Fort Laramie a plan was devised to get back the horses that was decidedly adventurous. Ten men were to go to the Indian encampment to negotiate for the return of the horses, followed an hour later by twenty-five men to be close at hand in the event of an emergency. The first company under command of Colonel Stephen Markham; the second under E. T. Benson. The expedition had not proceeded far, however, when they learned that the Indian camp had been warned from the fort to cache up their horses, as this expedition had started to recover those belonging to the pioneers. Of this circumstance Erastus Snow writes: Mr. Bordeaux [in charge at Fort Laramie] at first promised to send an interpreter with our messengers and to use his influence in our favor; but the next day when we had made up a company well armed and mounted for the expedition, Mr. Bordeaux refused to send an interpreter, or rather stated that his men refused to go. He also spoke very discouragingly of the expedition and said the Indians would secrete our horses and our efforts would be unavailing. Whether he was sincere in his counsel and advice or whether he was afraid of injuring his influence and trade with the Sioux, or whether he was leagued with them in their robberies, is more than I can determine.
Sept. 23, 1847
By Thursday they had caught up and brought news that while at the fort, a Sioux Indian arrived with horses that had been stolen from Brigham Young’s company at Pacific Springs. The brethren at the fort recognized the horses and demanded that they be turned over to them. The Indian admitted that he was part of a company of nine who had stolen the horses. Seventeen horses had been taken, but eight were lost in the Black Hills. Four of the brethren (Luke Johnson, Jesse C. Little, Norman Taylor, and John Buchanan) took the remaining horses and headed west to take them back to Brigham Young.
Sept. 25, 1847
By Saturday, William Clayton and the rest of the company reached Crab Creek, about 410 miles from Winter Quarters. William Clayton wrote: Most of the camp now begin to feel that it is necessary for us to make our way home as fast as possible to save our teams and escape the cold rain and snowstorms. Some hard feelings arose in the company because John Pack was taking all the best buffalo meat and tallow, and not sharing with the rest of the brethren.
As Johnson, Little, N. Taylor, and Buchanan were taking the horses to Brigham Young, they traveled a different road and missed them. These four men continued west, and became surrounded by Sioux Indians near Big Timber Creek. Fortunately, as they were contending with the Indians, a company of forty men from California came up and rescued them. This company was led by Commodore Robert Stockton, who was returning to the States to testify at John C. Fremont’s court-martial. The company informed the men that Brigham Young’s company was not ahead, so the four pioneers joined in with the men from California on their journey east toward Fort Laramie.
Sept. 26, 1847
On Sunday, Norman Taylor, and the other men arrived at Fort Laramie with Commodore Robert Stockton and his company of forty men. The four brethren were united once more with the Ox Team Company. Brigham Young was delighted to see that they brought with them ten horses that had been stolen by the Sioux. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and others dined with Commodore Stockton at the fort.
Sept. 27, 1847
On Monday, the returning company resumed their journey. After leaving Fort Laramie the journey down the Platte was slow and monotonous. The teams were constantly growing weaker, and food in the camp was often exhausted, and only intermittently replenished by the killing of game en route. Thomas Bullock wrote: Many brethren gather prickly pears, which are a very pleasant fruit to eat, after they are disrobed of their coat of pricks. They are troublesome to get; as my hands were stuck pretty full with their needles and getting many in my lips, tongue, mouth etc. is a drawback to eating this fruit, but still I gathered sufficient to satisfy my hungers, as did also other brethren.
Sept. 28, 1847
On Tuesday, they camped five miles from Scotts Bluff and saw about 40 Indians across the river.
Sept. 29, 1847
On Wednesday, they came into contact with a skunk. Thomas Bullock recorded: The dogs killed a skunk, a small black animal which stunk in a dreadful manner. The dog then leaped into two other wagons, which it did not belong and kicked up a bad stink by rubbing itself against the clothes. On being put out, it went into the river to wash itself.
Sept. 30, 1847
On Thursday, the pioneers passed Chimney Rock. By Friday, the company was almost out of bread and meat. They sent out hunters but could not find buffalo. Commodore Stockton caught up with them and said he would like to travel with the pioneers on the north side of the Platte. But the next morning he changed his mind and crossed back over the river with his troops to travel on the Oregon Trail.
Oct. 1, 1847
On Saturday morning, a Sioux Indian, Calf Skin, came into camp. He was the father of the Indians who had stolen the company’s horses. Brigham Young warned him that next season he would be returning with 3,000 people. The stolen horses must be returned. Calf Skin burst out crying and pledged that every one of them would be returned. The men were successful hunting. Wilford Woodruff wrote about the buffalo: I was quite surprised to see with what expertness the buffalo would climb the mountains & rocks. They would go in places where horned cattle would never think of going. The returning pioneers ended out the week near Ancient Bluff Ruins, about 420 miles from Winter Quarters. They had traveled one hundred miles during the week.
Oct. 18, 1847
A company of sixteen men with three wagons from Winter Quarters, led by Hosea Stout, Geo. D. Grant and James W. Cummings, met President Young’s camp. They had come to render such assistance as might be necessary to enable the Pioneers to reach Winter Quarters. A second company of about twenty wagons, led by Bishop Newel K. Whitney and others, met the returning camp at the Elkhorn, bringing with them food and grain in abundance. A mile from Winter Quarters the Pioneer camp was drawn up in regular marching order, addressed by President Young, and dismissed to go to their homes on arriving in the city. As they drove into the city, the streets were lined with the people who welcomed them with handshaking, exclamations of thanksgiving for their safe return, and with smiles through tears. The journey of the returning Pioneers was completed. Thus, Norman Taylor played a key roll in two momentous events in Church history: the location and foundation of Salt Lake City in late July 1847, and the triumphal reunion with the main body of the Saints in Winter Quarters that October. Norman reunited with the Taylor’s and Forbush’s and was married to Lurana Forbush in Council Bluffs the following spring on April 2nd.
[Extracted, compiled and adapted by Rob Taylor from many sources, although chiefly from: Comprehensive History of the Church, Introduction and Notes by B. H. Roberts, Published for the Church by Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah]
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