Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Pioneer Date Summary

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07/28/1847 - Crockett

Date: July 28, 1847

Near the Oquirrh mountains:
Wilford Woodruff realized that he lost his carriage whip during the previous evening's return to the campsite. He started out on horseback to look for it. "As I got near the place I discovered two objects appear on a ridge before me, about 1/2 a mile distant. I at first took them to be bears but after approaching a little nearer, I discovered about 20 objects appearing over the Hill. I soon saw that they were Indians and as I was unarmed & over 3 miles from camp, I did not consider it prudent to go among them. I wheeled my horse & started on my return in a slow trot." They soon called after him and one mounted his horse and rode at top speed toward him. He discovered that they were Ute Indians who just wanted to trade. Elder Woodruff let him know that his camp was near and invited him to come to the camp. After arriving in camp, they smoked the pipe of peace and the pioneers left.

They traveled about ten miles to the south along the base of the Oquirrh Mountains. Orson Pratt went up on a rise of ground and could see Utah Lake about twenty miles to the south. He counted nine streams flowing into the lake. He concluded that Utah Valley would also be a fine place for irrigation. The pioneers then turned and headed back to the City Creek camp. They stopped to drink at the Jordan River and soon arrived to their home after a weary ride.

Salt Lake Valley, Utah:
The temperature was 80 degrees at 8 a.m. The men started work on a saw pit to saw lumber for the boat. Joseph Hancock and Lewis Barney returned from a two day hunting trip to the mountains. They found plenty of good timber for building, but it would be difficult to haul out of the canyons. Howard Egan wrote: "Brother Redden and myself harnessed up a mule that never had been worked, in order to brake him in so he could be used to plow. He worked very well, and we hauled some poles to make a bowery, over our wagons."

At 3:30 p.m., Brigham Young and the exploration company returned and shared the exiting tale of their journey to the Great Salt Lake. They reported seeing up to one hundred mountain goats, in addition to many sheep and antelope in the hills and valley.

Brigham Young wrote: "Some of the brethren talked about exploring the country further for a site for a settlement; I replied that I was willing that the country should be explored until all were satisfied, but every time a party went out and returned, I believed firmly they would agree that this is the spot for us to locate."

Erastus Snow later said that Brigham Young proclaimed: "'This is the place where I, in vision, saw the ark of the Lord resting; this is the place whereon we will plant the soles of our feet, and where the Lord will place his name amongst his people." And he said to that band of pioneers--"Organize your exploring parties, one to go south, another north, and another to go to the west, and search out the land, in the length and the breadth thereof, learn the facilities for settlement, for grazing, water, timber, soil and climate, that we may be able to report to our brethren when we return;" and when the parties were organized, said he unto them--"You will find many excellent places for settlement. On every hand in these mountains are locations where the people of God may dwell, but when you return from the south, west and north to this place, you will say with me, "this is the place which the Lord has chosen for us to commence our settlements, and from this place we shall spread abroad and possess the land."'

Wilford Woodruff stated that President Young said: "Now, brethren, go where you please; go north, go south, go to any part of the country, and when you come back you will say this is the place."

At some point, Samuel Brannan tried to talk Brigham Young out of the idea of stopping in the Salt Lake Valley. Brother Brannan was convinced that California was the promised land for the Church. Wilford Woodruff later said: "I heard President Young give his answer to Samuel Brannan in the following language, striking his cane into the soil: 'No, sir; I am going to stop right here. I am going to build a city here. I am going to build a temple here, and I am going to build up a country here.'"

At 5 p.m., Brigham Young called for a meeting of the Council of Twelve Apostles. Eight were present in the valley at that time. Wilford Woodruff recorded this historic meeting: "We walked from the north camp to about the centre between the two creeks when Prest. Young waved his hands & said, "Here is the forty acres for the Temple." (We had conversed upon the subject of the location for the temple previous to this) & the city can be laid out perfectly square north & south, east & west. It was then moved & carried that the Temple lot contain 40 acres on the ground where we stood."

It was also decided that the city would be laid out into blocks of ten acres. Each block would and consist of eight lots. Each street would be 8 rods (128) feet wide and there should be a side walk on each side 20 feet wide. Each house was to be built on the center of the lot, 20 feet from the front line. President Young remarked that he did not want the houses close together for fear of fire danger. There would be four public squares of ten acres each.

At 8 p.m., all the brethren in the camp were called together on the Temple Square site and addressed by Brigham Young. He asked some of the brethren to express their feelings if this location should be the place for them to build their city. The brethren were in favor of settling at this spot. President Young then shared the plan to divide the city into blocks. He stated other rules for the city: "No house will be permitted to be built on the corners of the streets, neither petty shops. Each house will have to be built so many feet back from the street and all the houses parallel with each other. The fronts are to be beautified with fruit trees, etc. No filth will be allowed to stand in the city but the water will be conducted through in such a manner as to carry all the filth off to the River Jordan. No man will be suffered to cut up his lot and sell a part to speculate out of his brethren. Each man must keep his lot whole, for the Lord has given it to us without price. The temple lot will be forty acres and adorned with trees, ponds, etc." A committee was appointed to survey the city. All the proposals were unanimously sustained.

[B.H. Roberts later explained: "From time to time modifications were made of this general plan; as, for example, before the survey of the city was completed it was decided that it would be "more convenient" to have the temple block ten rather than forty acres, in area, and it was reduced accordingly. Also as the city extended into the sharp hills on both sides of City Creek, it was found that the ten acre blocks, with their one and one quarter acre lots, were inconvenient because of the broken nature of the land in that part of the city; and the blocks were reduced to two and a half acres. Also in the matter of having but four houses built on one side of a block, and these on alternating sides was in time given up; but very generally the first plan was adhered to in the early decades of the city's history, and even now gives a uniqueness to the city that distinguishes it from other American cities, and very much contributes to that air of spaciousness and breadth of conception in the ground plan of it that prophesies its coming greatness, and is at the same time a testimony of the largeness of the ideas of those who were its founders.']

President Young then launched into a forceful sermon condemning the past actions by the States and the U.S. Government. The Saints had been driven from Illinois and even though the raising of the Mormon Battalion brought temporal salvation, President Polk would be cursed for his desire to waste away the Saints. He blamed the government for the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum. If the government ever tried to send troops to interfere with the Saints, they would be very sorry for trying. He pledged to the Lord to prepare to avenge the blood of the prophets and the Saints. He stated that the Saints would embrace the Indians. They would teach them the gospel "and not many generations hence they will become a white & delightsome people and in no other way will it be done."

President Young lectured the men to be faithful and do their duty. To the women, if they were there, he would want to remind them of their primary duty, "to take care of her children, keep herself clean and house and keep clothes clean." He said that he planned to establish a school for his family and hire tutors to watch his children. He spoke of the important need to care for a woman carrying a child. Her husband needs to be considerate and kind. He felt that the spirit enters the embryo when life is first felt and that from that time the infant partakes of the mind and nature of the mother. She should be very careful giving into temptations while in this state because it would also affect the child. She should be calm and composed, and should exercise her mind. The meeting concluded at 10:10 p.m.

Emigration Canyon, Utah:
The Pueblo company of the Mormon Battalion and Mississippi Saints were camped in Emigration Canyon. They spent the day working on the road. Abner Blackburn recorded: "Three of us soldiers undertook to climb a high mountain in sight of the camp to take a view of the surrounding country. We went up until nearly exhausted and kept going until the top was reached. We would not have undertaken the job if we had known the difficulties to be surmounted. Passed the timber line far enough and landed on the summit of the highest peak in sight. It was the grandest view that ever mortal beheld. The air was clear and perfect for a good view -- the Great Salt Lake glittering under the suns rays, range after range of mountains in every direction, the great desert to the west and Utah Lake to the south east and the mountains beyond. A more sublime view was seldom seen from a mountain top."

"There were some very large granite boulders on top which would weigh several tons. We dug and pried them loose. Started them down the mountain. They sped through the air. Some split to pieces and some held together and crashed down the mountain until they reached the timber line. They would strike the fir trees nearly to the top and go right through them and start other rocks and make an awful avalanche. The grouse and wild animals scattered in all directions. Rolling rocks paid us for the feterge of climbing up."

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
The pioneers reached Ancient Bluff Ruins, about 612 miles from Salt Lake Valley. A violent thunder storm blew in. Sand came down from the hills covering the Saints, animals, and wagons with dust. Patty Session wrote: "In the afternoon came up a dreadful wind thunder lightning a very little rain where we were. On the other side of the river the ground was all aflood. We passed over sand bluffs in the wind. The sand and gravel flew in our eyes so we could not see. At times we had to hold our waggon cover to keep them from blowing off." After the storm cleared out, Brother Haight climbed one of the bluffs shaped in a form of a pyramid.

Winter Quarters, Nebraska:
The High Council heard a case where some young men were accused of stealing a canoe from Brother Lyman, a fisherman. They had hid it down the river two or three miles and intended to go off with it at night. The council decided to wait for more evidence. [When the trial came up again two days later, the your men had already fled.]

Garden Grove, Iowa:
The presidency of Garden Grove received a harsh letter from Orson Hyde. He stated that there were wicked men and women in Garden Grove and if they did not rid themselves of them, they would be considered partakers in their crimes. They immediately took action and cut off eight of the members of the settlement who had been involved in stealing, gambling, and other evils.

Oliver Cowdery wrote to his fellow Book of Mormon witness, David Whitmer: "Let the Lord vindicate our characters, and cause our testimony to shine, and then will men be saved in his kingdom"

Levi Hancock's company left the Francisco Ranch and ascended another mountain pass. Robert S. Bliss wrote: "Started for home. We ascended one of the most difficult mountains I ever passed. We lost above half our cattle in crossing the Mt & heated some others so they probably die & be of no use to us; we came to the top of the mountain & encamped in a small valley where we got water in the holes of the Rocks for our animals."


  • William Clayton's Journal, 324-25
  • Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:238-42
  • Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 459-60
  • Autobiography of John Brown, 80-1
  • Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 566-67
  • Journal of Discourses, Vol.16, p.208, Erastus Snow, September 14, 1873
  • The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p.317 - p.318
  • Howard Egan Diary, Pioneering the West, 110-11
  • Bagley, ed., Frontiersman, 62
  • Oliver Cowdery to David Whitmer, Ensign of Liberty, 1:92
  • Collected Discourses, Vol.1, Wilford Woodruff, July 24, 1888
  • Collected Discourses, Vol.5, Wilford Woodruff, June 22nd, 1897
  • The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:112
  • Isaac C. Haight Journal, typescript, 45
  • Cook, Joseph C. Kingsbury, 120
  • Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, 93
  • Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1:267
  • Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 240-44
  • Luman Shurtliff Journal, typescript, BYU, 75
  • B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol.3, Ch.82, p.282

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.