Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1847 Companies

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1847: Sunday, April 25 - These Sunday rests actually gained time

Date: April 25, 1847

As was their custom, the pioneers didn't travel on Sunday, but this wasn't really costing them time. A periodic day of rest kept the cattle in good condition.

A non-Mormon guide who crossed the plains with gold seekers many times in later years once remarked that resting every seventh day "would get you to California 20 days sooner."

That morning the cattle were taken some distance away from camp to graze where grass was better. Several men were left to guard the animals.

In the afternoon, Elijah Newman, 53, who had been suffering what the pioneers called "black scurvy in his legs" and couldn't walk without a stick, was baptised in a small lake "for benefit of his health." After this rite and having hands laid on him for a blessing, "he returned to his wagon without any kind of help, seemingly much better," William Clayton

Newman later became one of the first settlers in Parowan and helped explore the area for coal, iron ore and salt. He served several years in Parowan as justice of the peace.

Brigham Young called the company together about 5 p.m. and spoke about the need to be alert while on guard duty and warned against conforming to "gentile customs" on an expedition of this sort.

In a subsequent meeting of the apostles, it was decided that because the company had eight horses not attached to teams, eight men would be chosen to ride them and be hunters. Another 11 were named to hunt on foot. The rest of the men in the company were to stay with the wagons and not go chasing buffalo when those animals were encountered.

During their travel before the weekend, the company had passed the place where the town of Genoa would be founded in the spring of 1857 by other Mormons.

In the fall of 1856 Brigham obtained a government contract for carrying the mail between Salt Lake City and the Missouri River. He ordered a number of way stations established to serve as rest and supply stops, Genoa being one of them.

Mormons from St. Louis, Florence, Neb., and Alton, Ill., were called to settle the community and within a year 100 families had built rough homes and planted crops. They also erected a steam mill and started a brickyard.

In 1858 many of the people were called back to Utah because of the Utah War. The life of the little community ended in 1859 when the area became part of a new Pawnee Indian reservation.

What was left of Genoa served as headquarters of the Indian agency until 1876 when the Pawnee were removed and the Indian lands offered for sale.

Non-Mormon settlers moved in, named the town Genoa again and took up farming. Today it is a quiet little community of 1,170 persons, many of them retired farmers. The nearly empty main street has a few unhurried shops. No Mormons live in the town.

A city museum, open a few hours a week, stands on one corner. Allen Atkins, a retired amateur historian, serves as curator. Inside are a few artifacts and some old newspaper clippings about the early Mormon days, along with many Indian items and pictures of the town around the turn of the century.

"None of the people who live here know much about the town's past or early Mormon history," Atkins said.

The only trace left of the Mormon settlement is where a ditch and dirt wall used to be, about a mile west of town. The ditch was created when the pioneers built a dirt embankment four or five feet high to keep Livestock penned inside. The openings were filled with sagebrush instead of having gates.

The dirt wall is long gone and so is the ditch, but when farmers plow that land "you can see the different colored dirt where the ditch once was," Atkins said.

A historical marker giving some of the Mormon history stands in a small park near the edge of town.

Source: 111 Days to Zion © Copyright 1997 Big Moon Traders and Hal Knight. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. This includes educational uses.