04/23/1847 - Crockett
Date: April 23, 1847
On the Loup Fork, Nebraska:
The morning was cold, thirty four degrees. The pioneers stayed in camp during the morning while Brigham Young, and others went to Loup Fork to try to find a place where the wagons could cross. They understood there was a good place about four miles up the river that had been used by George Miller the previous summer, but it was near another band of Pawnees, so they hoped to use a different crossing point. In the mean time, the rest of the men spent time fixing wagons and washing. Others filled their bed ticks with fresh hay.
The scouting team consisted of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, Ezra T. Benson, Amasa M. Lyman, Luke S. Johnson, Albert P. Rockwood, James Case, Jackson Redden, Orrin Porter Rockwell, and Joseph Matthews. Wilford Woodruff reported that the scouts "went down the stream some distance & several men waded across the stream & found the water so deep & so much quick sand we concluded to drive higher up to the old Pawnee Village."
Brigham Young and his company of scouts returned at 11 a.m. and informed the camp about the new plans. He felt that James Case was justified in taking much of the plows and iron at the missionary settlement as compensation for the pay that the government owed him. A large quantify of iron was loaded into various wagons. All spare hands went to work with shovels to grade the hill down to the creek.
Thomas Bullock went to see the deserted Pawnee Mission. "It consists of two double log houses and six single smaller houses with pig pens & ashes cribs to each set, also two ricks of good hay, & a yard to enclose corn fodder, several yards to enclose horses & cattle, two fields fenced in with posts & rails where corn had grown last year. Also fruit trees & a beautiful little creek of Soft Water running behind the same, the whole making a very pleasand retired spot for a farm."
The pioneer company crossed Plumb Creek at 12:10 p.m. and after passing by beautiful plowed fields, they soon came to Cedar creek which was difficult to ford because of the sand. Soon they came to the proposed crossing at Loup Fork. It looked like it would be difficult because of the sandbars and the rapid current. There were two channels of water with a sand bar in the middle. The water was only three to four feet deep in the deepest spots, but there were many places full of quicksand.
Luke Johnson was the first to try crossing. He unloaded "Revenue Cutter" (the boat) and tried to pull across only the running gear of the wagon. He made it with great difficulty. Orson Pratt tried to cross with a small load. He had only gone a few yards when his horses began to sink in the sand. William Clayton wrote: "A number of brethren jumped in and lifted at the wheels, etc., till they go him to the bar in the middle. He then started for the other bar and about half way across his horses sank in the quicksand so badly that one of them fell down." The horses were taken off the wagon and led across to the sand bar. Heber C. Kimball recorded: "When I jumped into the river I was astonished at the strength of the current." Wilford Woodruff also struggled to get across, as his cattle and wagon sank into the sand. "The horses were taken from the waggons the load taken out & carried to shore by hand & the waggon drawn out by the help of me."
Brigham Young tried to get his carriage across by having men pull in with a long rope. After awhile, Brigham Young realized that this crossing point would not work and ordered that no more wagons should be taken over. Instead, they would move up the river about a quarter mile and camp for the night. This plan left six men, including Wilford Woodruff and Orson Pratt, stranded over on the other side of the river, without men to guard them from the Pawnee. They organized themselves into two groups of three to stand guard during the night. Wilford Woodruff wrote, "I stood guard in my wet clothing one half the night and slept in them the other half."
There rest of the pioneer company camped very close to the old destroyed Pawnee village, forming a semi-circle on a bluff by a stream. In the evening the captains of tens were called together to vote on building two light rafts, sixteen feet long. Tarlton Lewis would superintend the building of one, and Thomas Woolsey the other. The leather boat would be used to carry over as many loads as possible and teams would pull over empty wagons. It was believed that after several wagons were taken across that the sand would become firm.
Some of the men went to explore the ruins of the Pawnee Village. Charles Harper wrote, "I went to the ruins together with many of the brethren to get wood to cook our suppers. We surveyed the ground where the city once stood. The houses or wigwams were nearly all burnt. They had the appearance of having been large and commodious." Brigham Young wrote: "Dr. Richards reported that he had rode through the Pawnee town about half a mile west of us and had seen the ruins of 175 houses or lodges averaging from twenty to sixty feet in diameter, all of which had been burnt to the ground. . . . The town had been partially fortified by an embankment of earth and sod about four feet high, having a ditch on the outside."
The only lodge that wasn't burned belonged to the Pawnee Chief. Levi Jackman described: "The one remaining was about 45 feet on the inside and about 15 feet high in the center. They were built round with a row of posts about seven feet high, standing nearly straight up and down. On the top of these posts were plates to support the upper part. The timbers were put on those plates running quite steep to the top, leaving a hole in the center for the smoke to go out. The fire being in the center of the lodge, from the east side an entry was made running out about 20 feet and of good width."
Brigham Young sent five men across the river in the boat to help protect Wilford Woodruff's small group. The river was about a quarter mile across at this point.
Winter Quarters, Nebraska:
A meeting was held at Brother Leonard's home, presided over by Brother Sessions. Many sisters including Eliza R. Snow attended.
Hosea Stout weighed his baby. She was 19 pounds. One year ago he had weighed all of his children, included his two little boys who later died on the trek across Iowa. On this day he wrote, "I weighed all my children this day one year ago, she weighed then 8 pounds and the others O! where are they now!! hush."
Summer Quarters, Nebraska:
The men were busy clearing land, hauling logs, and building cabins. Brothers Potter and Dalton came from Winter Quarters and reported that a treaty had been made with the Omahas. The terms called for the Saints to pay them five hundred bushes of corn as soon as it could be hauled from Missouri. If this was done, the Saints could use their land and the Omahas would stop killing their cattle.
Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:
The detachment led by James Pace started out for Cajon Pass, to relieve Company C. Nathaniel V. Jones recorded: "They had bought themselves some horses and Col. Cooke came out just at the time they were starting, and ordered them all back, took all their horses from them, sent them off on foot and ordered their horses sold to the highest bidder, which was done accordingly." After they left, Colonel Cooke sent word to the rest of the battalion that they would be moving to another camping location for their safety. The Missouri Volunteers had threatened to harm the Mormon Battalion. The men moved to a green about one half mile below the Pueblo.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 551
- William Clayton's Journal, 91-94.
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal 3:156-58
- "Excerpts from the hitherto unpublished Journal of Horace K. Whitney," Improvement Era, 50:204
- Charles Harper Diary, 17
- Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 14:819
- Heber C. Kimball Diary, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, 30:78-9
- Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 128-30
- Levi Jackman Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.28
- Leonard J. Arrington, BYU Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, p.45
- Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza R. Snow, 166
- Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1:251
- Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-1847 and 1859, 155
- The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones, The Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:15
- Journal of Henry Standage in Frank Alfred Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 218