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Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1868: Emigration and Other Events

Twenty-one years had passed since the first group of Mormon pioneers entered the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Constant expansion had strengthened Church and community, and by 1868, with a population of nearly 100,000, the once barren territory was a fruitful land with gardens and farms, granaries and factories dotting the horizon.

In January an act of the legislature deleted the "Great" from both Salt Lake City and County. During the year, Marysvale came into existence as a mining town, and eight communities were incorporated: Kaysville, Ephraim, Morgan, Richmond, Smithfield, Mt. Pleasant, Deseret and Franklin, Idaho. The first shipment of ore from Utah was sent to Uintah by the Walker brothers, and thence to the railroad terminal and on to Baltimore.

A few incidents with the Indians created momentary alarm in the territory, but the chiefs were beginning to accept peace terms and indicate a willingness to settle down to a quieter life. Perhaps the most calamitous occurrence of the year was the grasshopper scourge. Swarms of the pests invaded village after village, sometimes becoming so thick as to blot out the sun. Men, women and children alike were forced to fight them with every possible means. Fortunately, their efforts were successful and enough wheat was harvested that some could be sold for other needed items.

The year witnessed great strides in transportation. The faithful old sailship was being replaced by the much faster steamship, and lumbering oxteams were giving way to railroad travel. As each new group entered the Valley and described the ever closer approach of the Iron Horse, excitement mounted. By the end of July the shifting terminal was at Laramie City, Wyoming, and by September had reached Benton. Aside from the excitement and the improved travel conditions, a timely benefit was also realized by the Saints in the way of jobs on the railroad and markets for their produce.

Immigration From Europe
The year opened with the Saints making preparations for a large immigration. At the general conference in October 1867, President Young had urged that every effort be made to bring more souls to Zion. After instructing the people in the laws of life and the means by which existence could be prolonged in happiness, he added that he would send to every ward in the territory and ask men of wealth how many of the poor Saints yet in the old world they would help to emigrate the next year. The president's efforts succeeded beyond all expectations. Seventy thousand dollars were raised, and later, Church agents Hiram B. Clawson and William C. Staines were sent with $27,000 to assist the emigrants.

By year's end, several thousand converts had crossed the waters in five chartered plus several miscellaneous vessels and nearly 5,000 were transported to Utah in 470 Church wagons. For several of the drivers it was a time of rejoicing, for they met families from whom they had long been parted. Sending the teams east provided another advantage, as well; they could bring back much needed machinery and merchandise. Included in the returning caravan were home furnishings purchased through sale of surplus farm products with which the teamsters had filled their wagons on their way east.

As in years past, a president directed the Saints in the old world, and these men, with their assistants, made arrangements for the sailing vessels which were to carry the converts to America. When the sailing date had been set, the travelers were organized into companies, with returning elders generally acting as overseers both in preparation and on the vessel.

Letter From Brigham Young Regarding Immigration
In March of 1868, Bishop Edward Hunter, presiding bishop of the Church and president of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, received a letter from President Brigham Young, who asked that additional care be taken of the pioneers arriving in 1868. Following is the letter:

Dear Brother:

"In consideration of the great number who anticipate immigrating to this Territory from Europe and the United States during the ensuing season, it is deemed necessary to send 500 teams to the terminus of the U. P. R. R., each team to consist of one wagon and four yoke of oxen, or their equivalent in strength in either mules or horses. They should start from this city about the 15th of June.

"It is well known that the Union Pacific Railroad is now prepared to convey passengers and freight upwards of five hundred miles west of Omaha, on the Missouri River. With these great facilities for transportation, there are some inconveniences which must be provided for; viz: A depot should be formed at a spot deemed most suitable near the terminus of the Railroad, where provisions may be stored, and which will afford good camping facilities for our immigrants. We do not anticipate purchasing provisions and other supplies for the people in the Eastern market, but propose sending means of subsistence with the teams which will meet them at the terminus of the U. P. R. R., hence it will be necessary for the inhabitants of the Territory to make donations of the bounties with which they have been so liberally provided.

"We hope not less than 5,000 Adults will cross the Plains this season, en route for this Territory. To feed this vast number of people will require large quantities of Flour and Beef, which may be apportioned among the trains, and be easily driven to the outfitting point. We would recommend that dried fruit, bacon, cheese, vinegar, beans, pickles, peas and dried corn be gathered up and sent with our teams, which articles will prove very beneficial to the people, and no doubt cause a decided improvement in their health and comfort.

"The people of this Territory have an abundance of these articles, and if their attention be called to the fact that they will prove conducive to the health of the immigrant, they will take pleasure in supplying the wants of their brethren who are journeying hitherward.

"Immediate steps should be taken to provide the above supplies and we shall expect you and your council to superintend these matters in accordance with former instructions on similar occasions." - Brigham Young

In May 1868 Brigham Young sent the following letter of instructions to Elder Franklin D. Richards in England:

Salt Lake City, May 23, 1868
Elder Franklin D. Richards.

Dear Brother,-I have contracted for the grading and masonry on the Union Pacific Railroad from near the head of Echo canon to the lake shore, or to this city, depending upon which end of the lake the road passes. To complete this work by the time agreed upon, will require a large number of laborers, perhaps some thousands more than we can well spare from farming and other necessary home operations. To help us in this work, as our trains will leave here so as to reach the terminus by the middle of July, I wish you to close with the steamers upon the best terms you can, in time to have our emigration reach New York in season to be forwarded to the terminus by the middle of July....

All men physically able to work on the road will be passed FREE from Omaha to the terminus, and can at the same time travel with their families and friends on the cars, and so on with the trains to this place, where they can be distributed on the work required. The number of FREE passages from Omaha, of which I have also advised brother Hiram, and which is in the cash part of the route, will probably enable you to emigrate more than you anticipated with the money at your command for emigration purposes, and will by so much the farther aid me in fulfilling my contract....

Brigham Young

Alert, now, to any advantages that might be forthcoming under the new contract, Pres. Young sent Hiram Clawson to New York City as Church agent to enlist laborers as they disembarked from the ships. By doing this he would not only raise a working force without taking Utah men from their farms, but the emigrants would receive free transportation on part of their journey, as well. Several of the histories of that year relate that as the men reached New York and Castle Garden they were interviewed by Clawson.

Soon after the contract was signed, men and some women were rushed to the job, which subsequently gave employment to nearly 600.

Deseret News - News from the Immigration
In a letter to President B. Young, under date of the 6th inst., President F. D. Richards writes... that he has succeeded in chartering two sailing vessels the Emerald Isle and the Resolute-for passengers, the first to sail on the 20th inst., and the latter on the 24th inst. The Emerald Isle will be filled with passengers from Scandinavia. The price of passages on steam vessels was very high-too high to admit of many of the people coming who were anxious to immigrate, and who could come on sailing vessels. Owners of steam vessels have entered into a combination, and have made it severely penal to depart from its rigid rules, one of which is that they will not carry passengers at any time of the year for less than the sum they have agreed upon, even though their vessels have to sail without passengers.

At the present time everything connected with the immigration of the people from Europe is interesting. It is not the long, tedious and difficult journey it was once to travel from England to this point. Letters reach here now from that country in less than twenty days, and there is a prospect, ere long, of even this being considerably lessened. It will be much easier for the teams sent from here this year to bring up the people than it was in previous years, the distance being lessened more than one-half.

Another letter, of June 24th, states that the ship Constitution was cleared on that day with 457 of the Saints on board, under the presidency of Elders Harvey H. Cluff, Joseph S. Horne and C. P. Liston. Brother Horne has charge of about 40 persons from the Swiss and German mission, which number includes some from Munich, the capital of Bavaria, and also some from the kingdom of Wurttemberg.

Brother W. C. Thomas, of Brigham City, who left here as a missionary on the evening of June 3d, arrived at Liverpool on the 24th of June.

President Young has received a telegram from General H. B. Clawson, stating that 500 immigrants, by the Minnesota left New York yesterday morning; 700 by the John Bright, leave for the terminus to-day. The John Bright, it seems, has arrived at New York with her passengers.

By letter to President Brigham Young from President F. D. Richards, dated Liverpool, July 1st, we glean the following items:

"The steamship Minnesota was cleared yesterday morning and steamed down the river in the afternoon. She had on board 534 souls of our people. ...I have engaged passages on the steamship Colorado, which will sail on the 14th instant, for the last company of through passengers the present season, which will be about 600 souls."

Immigration From Denmark Marked by Death
(published in the Scandinavian Star:)
Saturday, June 13, 1868, 630 emigrants left Copenhagen with the steamship Hansia, and arrived in Hull, England, Tuesday the 16th. The same evening they took passage on the railroad for Liverpool. Upon arriving there, they were housed in seven hotels where they were poorly treated. On the 19th they went on board the sailship, the Emerald Isle. There were 627 Scandinavians and 250 English emigrants under the direction of Elder Hans Jensen Hals as president, and counsellors J. Smith and John Forsberg, with Elder Peter Hansen acting as provision dealer. Arriving at Queenstown, they remained three days, which proved anything but pleasant, as the emigrants were roughly treated by the ship's crew. Seldom have Latter-day Saints suffered as much as did those who were the last to cross the Atlantic with sailships.

It was not only the rough handling of the Saints that made it so unpleasant and hard to bear, but the water became so rank that it caused many of the emigrants to sicken and die. In all, thirty-seven died, most of them children, from measles and bad water.

The ship anchored in New York Harbor, August 11th, and was quarantined for three days, where they were inspected, and thirty of the sick were taken to Staten Island for treatment, and the rest were taken to Castle Garden, Aug. 14th. On the same day, the company sailed on a steamboat for the Hudson River, where they were stationed for two days while the baggage was weighed. While there a boy died. On the 17th, the railroad journey began from New York to Niagara Falls, Detroit, Chicago and Council Bluffs. They journeyed on the Union Pacific to Benton, 700 miles west of Omaha, arriving on the morning of the 25th. Here they were met by the Church wagons that took them to the Platte River, two miles from Benton. There they stayed until August 31.

The travel-weary Saints were still besieged with sickness, and thirty more gave up their lives between New York and Salt Lake City. The remainder of the emigrants arrived in Salt Lake City September 25, 1868.

This company concluded the emigration from Europe by sailship and oxteam. The hard journey to Zion, which so many of Norden's sons and daughters had passed through, was now a thing of the past. It was not any too soon that a change took place, for hundreds and hundreds of the 19th century's best men and women who had left their fatherland, relatives and friends for the Gospel's sake, according to the counsel of God, to go to Zion, offered up their lives through hardships. Many of them became so weak they despaired reaching their destination, fearing they would either be sunk in the sea or go to sleep on the big prairie, their lonely graves watched by howling wolves instead of their dear ones. How often had fond parents closed their eyes on their loved ones when at last given up to die, and how many gray-haired veterans, whose fond hopes and longing for Zion had to be given up.

Those who survived will never forget those sorrowful days, when without coffins they had to bury their loved ones in the wilderness; while they through weakness were hardly able to fulfill the last rites. While hovering between life and death, they did not know who would be the next victim. (End of quote.)

Starting of Wagon Trains.-The following trains started from Laramie City, at the dates named, with immigrants: Captains Rawlins" and Loveland's trains left July 25th; Captain Murdock's on the 27th, and Captain Haight's on the 28th, with the passengers that came by the Minnesota and John Bright, 1,250 in number. Captain Seeley's train left August 1st, with the Williamsburg passengers, and freight. The first of the trains may reach this city by Saturday or Sunday, though it is difficult to say exactly, since no information has reached yet of their striking the road where a telegraph station is; and the first they would come to, on the road they will most likely travel, would be at Bear River.

Since writing the above, the following telegram has been received from Captain Murdock:

Fort Bridger, Aug. 13, 1868.

President Brigham Young:-My train is on the way in good condition. Be at Salt Lake the 20th. J. R. Murdock

We are indebted to President Young for the following telegram: New York, Sept. 28, 1868. President B. Young:-I arrived this morning. The company start October 3d, and will reach the terminus in ten days. H. B. Clawson.

The company alluded to are those who had to be left in hospital at New York, sick. There are nearly sixty of them, in charge of Elder Frederick G. Anderson. -Deseret News

Home Manufacture
There wasn't a time after the colonists settled in Utah that Brigham Young did not exhort them to cultivate home industry. In the beginning years it was a matter of urgent necessity if the settlements were to survive. As he preached the familiar sermon in 1868, however, there were additional reasons. Gentile merchants were tempting the Latter-day Saint sisters with a variety of long absent States" goods. Determined that they would not be led astray by the follies of a vain world, the Church's president doubled his efforts in behalf of home manufacture. In the interest of the silk industry, which had been tried successfully in preceding years but which was waning in favor of the more easily acquired imported product, Elder George Watts was sent to the various wards to lecture on the manufacture of silk. In a report to the Deseret News, dated Nov. 23, 1868, Elder Watts noted the following:

"Last Sunday, 22d, I delivered my eighth lecture in the Mill Creek Ward Assembly Room, and in the evening my ninth lecture, in the 17th Ward meeting house, in this city. The lectures were listened to with great interest at both places."

"...Shall we all plant mulberry trees? Yes, all. Our increasing thousands of children demand it of us, to make for them a school of industry wherein to teach them lessons of self-sustenance and material independence, and to ease off the immense demand that is now made upon the toiling few, and that will continue to be made, unless some such industry shall be introduced to supply labor for our youths. The universal introduction of silk culture need not interfere with other industrial pursuits, but will rather foster and encourage them."

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.