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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The Pioneer Trek of 1847 - Preparation

Description: Line drawing by Melinda, a ninth grader from Central Davis Junior High.
Image courtesy of: Heritage Gateway Project Images, These images have been gathered to support the Sesquicentennial celebration of the immigration to Utah.

Location: Winter Quarters - 1014 miles left, Nebraska - Location: 41:21:41N 95:56:45W Currently the site of Florence, Nebraska, Winter Quarters was settled in September, 1846 as a temporary resting place for the pioneers. It is located just west of the Missouri river in Nebraska.

In early January 1847, the pioneer company began in earnest to prepare to leave for the Rocky Mountains that spring. The traditional time, the "window," to head west from the Missouri River was sometime between April 15th and May 30th. This vanguard differed from other westering Americans in that they were not interested in just getting themselves west, but in improving the trail for the benefit of the many thousands of their co-religionists, who would soon be following them to their new Zion. Among the improvements the pioneers made were cutting down the banks of deep stream beds so that wagons could cross them easier, bridging small creeks, marking the trail with signs, locating good fords, and establishing ferries.

Some idea of the staggering logistics of preparation for such a venture can be gained from the following inventory, detailed to the last half-cent, of what Heber C. Kimball assembled and transported in his six wagons:

Teams belonging to H.C. Kimball: Horses 5, mules 7, oxen 6, cows 2, dogs 2, wagons 6.

List of provisions:

  • flour 1,228 lbs.
  • meat 865 lbs.
  • sea biscuits 125 lbs.
  • beans 296 lbs.
  • bacon 241 lbs.
  • corn for teams 2,869 lbs.
  • buckwheat 300 lbs.
  • dried beef 25 lbs.
  • groceries 2903/4 lbs.
  • sole leather 15 lbs.
  • oats 10 bus.
  • rap 40 lbs.
  • seeds 71 lbs.
  • cross-cut saw 1
  • axes 6
  • scythe 1
  • hoes 3
  • log chains 5
  • spade 1
  • crowbar 1
  • tent 1
  • keg of powder 25 lbs.
  • lead 20 lbs.
  • codfish 40 lbs.
  • garden seeds 50 lbs.
  • plows 2
  • bran 31/2 bus.
  • 1 side of harness leather
  • whip saw 1
  • iron 16 lbs.
  • nails 16 lbs.
  • 1 sack of salt 200 lbs.
  • saddles 2
  • 1 tool chest
  • 6 pairs of double harness.
  • Total $1,592.87 1/2.
Source: Historic Resource Study - Mormon Pioneer National By Stanley B. Kimball, Ph.D., May 1991. (The study focuses on the history of the trail from its official beginning in Nauvoo, Illinois, to its terminus in Salt Lake City, Utah, during the period 1846-1869. During that time, thousands of Mormon emigrants used many trails and trail variants to reach Utah. This study emphasizes the "Pioneer Route" or "Brigham Young Route" of 1846-1847. The sections on Mormon beliefs and motivations for going west have been omitted. Interested persons can find ample sources for that information. The footnotes, bibliography, maps, pictures, pioneer companies by name and dates for the 22-year period, and historic sites - about 2/3 of the book - have also been left out for space considerations. Thanks to Dr. Kimball and the National Park Service for the availability of this information.)