Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Pioneer Date Summary

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05/23/1847 - Crockett

Date: May 23, 1847

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
During the morning, the men spent their time washing, baking and exploring. Brigham Young, other members of the Twelve, and some others in the pioneer company climbed to the top of two of the highest "bluff ruins" that were across from the camp. Appleton Harmon described his hike to the top: "As I came near the foot of the bluff, I gradually ascended until I came to the foot of a pyramid. By going around it, I found that I could ascend it. Fragments of rocks had broken off from near the top and laying a confused mass, half-way down the side. I succeeded in ascending to its summit. . . . I was here joined by three or four of the brethren who came to visit the same scenery." Wilford Woodruff wrote: "We had a fair view of chimney rock from where we were. I carried a bleached buffalo bull's head on to the top & wrote upon it with a pencil our names & distances from several places for the benefit of the next camp." Erastus Snow added: "The scenery is picturesque and romantic in the extreme. At a distance of two or three miles they greatly resemble the ruins of ancient towers and castles and pleasure grounds of noblemen." Using a barometer, Orson Pratt estimated that the bluffs were 235 feet above the river. They amused themselves by rolling down some large rocks from the top of the bluffs. They also carved their names in the bark of a lone cedar.

While Nathaniel Fairbanks was exploring some bluffs, he was bit by a rattlesnake and became sick before he returned to camp. Howard Egan reported: "He had been up on the bluffs, and he said he felt the effects of it all over his body. Three minutes after he was bit he felt a pricking in his lungs." The brethren did their best to treat him and administer to him. He soon improved. [Brother Fairbanks and some other men had been teasing a snake, making it mad. Within a half hour, he received his bite from another snake.]

The bugle sounded at 11:30 a.m., calling the camp together for a Sabbath meeting. After singing and prayer, Eratus Snow spoke followed by Brigham Young. He stated that he was satisfied that the Lord was with them and leading them. He had never seen a company of people more united that this camp so far. He had never felt better in his life than he did on this journey and he felt impressed to bless the company in the name of the Lord. He encouraged them all to go forth in their work, that they may increase in knowledge and understanding. He wished to teach them many things, including how to administer sealing ordinances, but felt constrained to only teach certain things in the house of the Lord in a stake of Zion.

He said that if all the knowledge in this camp were put together and Joseph Smith were in their midst, he could gather the whole amount of this knowledge and wind it around his little finger. It they then considered the knowledge of angels, and above that, the knowledge of the Lord, they would realize that here was much for them to learn.

"We are forming a character for eternity and have been, ever since we received the gospel and knew the right from the wrong way, hence how careful we should be in all our acts. . . . If the Saints had obeyed counsel last year and let the authorities go ahead of the main camp, there could have been two hundred men here one year ago as easy as now, and the brethren would not have gone in the army." He commended the men for always following his counsel while on the road. He felt that the spirit of peace rested upon the while camp. Several other men spoke including Amasa Lyman and George A. Smith. Brigham Young announced that the four bishops in the camp (Tarlton Lewis, Shadrach Roundy, John Higbee, and Addison Everett) would administer the sacrament on the following Sunday. He asked the brethren not to "ramble off" and tire themselves, but to use the Sabbath as a day of rest. The meeting was then closed.

William Clayton recorded: "Awhile after meeting I walked out with Elder Kimball a piece from the camp. We sat down and I read to him, my journal of the last four days with which he seemed well pleased. We then knelt down together and poured out our souls to God for ourselves, the camp and our dear families in Winter Quarters. While we were engaged in prayer the wind rose suddenly from the northwest, a heavy cloud having been gathering from the west all the afternoon. A sudden gust struck Elder Kimball's hat and carried it off. After we got through, his hat was nowhere in sight, but following the direction of the wind we soon saw it at a distance on the bottom of the prairie still flying swiftly. We both ran and chased it about three quarters of a mile and caught it a little from the river."

During this time, Thomas Bullock and Luke Johnson hiked up to the top of the bluff that others had ascended during the morning. Brother Bullock recorded: "While I was on the very top of the bluff, a rattle snake challenged for battle. His rattles startled me. I sprung over him, calling to Luke, he turned round, and said, 'If that's the way you fight my friend, I take his [the snake's] part in the battle.' On the way down they found a mammoth bone partially buried in the ground.

A storm gathered and the wind continued to blow hard. They quickly did all they could do to protect the wagon bows and covers from the furious force. The wind continued for and our and then in rained for another hour with occasional hail. Then the temperature dropped. Wilford Woodruff recalled tales of abrupt temperature shifts from traders who had been in this area. He covered his horses with blankets. During the night he got up several time to check on them. They shivered with cold, but were fine. The wind continued to blow all night and many of the men could not sleep at all.

Winter Quarters, Nebraska:
A meeting was held at the Winter Quarter's stand. The Saints were instructed by Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, John D. Lee, Isaac Morley and John Smith. They pled to the Saints to care for the poor. Elder Pratt questioned why Brothers David Boss and Sessions had withheld their cattle from being used to plow the Big Field. Brother Boss explained that his cattle were poor and wanted them to regain their strength for the journey to the mountains. Elder Pratt stated that no person should leave for the mountains without first obtaining a certificate showing that they had done their duty in plowing the Big Field. John Taylor asked the congregation why it was that the brethren had to continually remind them of their previous covenants. "Why don't you do it and act honorable like men. What need is there of so much talk day after day and Sabbath after Sabbath. Go to work . . . work together in unity as brethren, for in unity there is strength."

John D. Lee said that he, with two men, two boys, and women had cleared, plowed, harrowed, and planted about seventy-five acres of land at Summer Quarters. Brother Lee also said that Brigham Young wanted his brother, John Young, to be in the next company that starts for the mountains. Brother Lee donated ten dollars and a yoke of oxen toward this cause.

Kearny Mormon Battalion detachment, California:
The detachment arrived at the Mission of San Obispo.

Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:
An inspection was held in the morning. Later, two cannons and some balls were brought from the deserted marine quarters.

News continued to reach the men stationed at San Diego. They heard from a sailor that Brother Samuel Brannan had sent fourteen loads of provisions to the brethren. The battalion also learned discouraging news that the families of the battalion would not be going over the mountains during the summer. The men hoped to soon learn what the new plans were. If their families were not to arrive soon, they wanted to be discharged to go after their loved ones.

Azariah Smith wrote a poem that included:

Oh my home when shall I see thee,
And the friends I love so well,
I do not like this barren country
But glad would bit it long farewell.
Let me hasten to the home I love so well,
On the Pacific Ocean some thousand miles from home,
Across the rocky mountains I had a cause to roam,
Enlisting for a soldier and leave my native land,
And with friends and kindred I took the parting hand.
Far from my dear Mother and Sisters I am
But by the grace of God I will see them again,
And live in Zion's city most glorious to behold,
Whose walls are made of jasper and streets of purest Gold.


  • Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:181-82
  • Autobiography of John Brown, 74
  • Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 14:1100-01
  • Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young, Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:159
  • Diary of Charles Harper, 22
  • Journal of Luke S. Johnson, typescript, BYU, 8
  • Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 21-2
  • Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 404-05
  • William Clayton's Journal, 176-80
  • Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 163-64
  • Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-1847 and 1859, 170-71
  • Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, The 1846-1848 Life Writings of Mary Haskin Parker Richards, 143
  • The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:17
  • The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:94
  • Bigler, The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith, 84
Source: 150 Years Ago Today ©These materials have been created by David R. Crockett. Copies of these materials may be reproduced for teacher and classroom use. When distributing these materials, credit must be given to David R. Crockett. These materials may not be published, in whole or part, or in any other format, without the written permission of Mr. Crockett, Tucson Az, crockett@goodnet.com.