05/29/1847 - CrockettLocation: Henry, Nebraska - Location: 41:59:55N 104:02:49W
Date: May 29, 1847
On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
The morning was cold and rainy. At 10 a.m., the horn sounded, signaling the men to gather up the horses and cattle. At about noon, the camp was gathered together at the center of the circle of wagons. Roll was taken and Brigham Young spoke, standing in the boat wagon.
President Young was very direct and launched into a powerful, one hour discourse. "I am resolved not to go any further with the Camp unless you will covenant to humble yourselves before the Lord & serve him & quick your folley and wickedness. For a week past nearly the whole camp has been card playing, checkers and dominoes have occupied the attention of the brethren." Dancing and foolishness was participated in every night. "Now it is quite time to quit it." The mock trials must cease before fights broke out. He had even heard reports of men playing cards on Sunday before the Sabbath meeting. He added that civil recreation was of no harm if not done in excess. Dancing would be proper if done moderately and if afterwards they would retire to their wagons, thank the Lord for the privilege of dancing, and would ask him to pour out his Spirit on the camp. But this was not being done.
He spoke out against card playing. "I have played cards once in my life since I became a Mormon to see what kind of spirit would attend it, and I was so well satisfied, that I would rather see in your hands the dirtiest thing you could find on the earth, than a pack of cards. You never read of gambling, playing cards, checkers, dominoes, etc., in the scriptures."
Regarding some contention in the camp, he said: "When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I hear is some of the brethren jawing each other and quarreling because a horse had got loose in the night."
He said that those who persisted in taking their Maker's name in vain should be cursed and dwindle away in unbelief, would deny their Heavenly Father, and would serve the devil. He spoke about prayer: "Here is an opportunity for every man to prove himself, to know whether he will pray and remember his God without being asked to do it every day; to know whether he will have confidence enough to ask of God that he may receive without my telling him to do it." He said that if this camp was composed of newly baptized members of the Church he would be more gentle in his approach, but he had to be direct because the camp was made of up Elders with many years of experience holding the priesthood.
President Young reminded them that they were on a mission from God to seek out a resting place for the Saints in the mountains. Afterwards, they would be called to preach the gospel to the nations. "How would you look if they would know your conduct and you what did you do when you went to seek out Zion, and find a resting place for the Saints where the Standard of the Kingdom of God could be reared & her banners unfurled for the nations to gather unto?"
After speaking further on this topic, priesthood roll was taken. There were 8 of the Twelve, 18 High Priests, 80 Seventies, and 8 Elders. To each of the quorums, one at a time, he put them under this covenant: "If you are willing to humble yourselves before the Lord & covenant to do right & walk humble before him, to repent of all your follies, to cease from all your evils, and serve God according to His laws, make it manifest by raising your hand." He then put the rest of the members under the same covenant. To the non-members in the camp, he told them that they were not at liberty to introduce anything corrupt or to disturb the peace of the camp. They could withdraw at this time, but if they didn't, they must conform to the rules of the camp. He proposed that the following day, Sunday would be a day of fasting and prayer. A sustaining vote was shown.
At this point, he again referred to the standard and ensign that would be raised in Zion. On the standard would be a flag of every nation under heaven so there would be an invitation to all nations to come unto Zion. The Saints in Zion would have to live a Celestial law during the millennia time. All would have to bow knee and acknowledge the Jesus was the Christ. All the nations and religions would not be required to be baptized, but they would be required to acknowledge the reign of Christ. They would still have their agency to reject the gospel but could not be persecuted by the Saints. "And upon this principle all men or religions may dwell with us in peace, if they will keep the outward laws of the kingdom of God so as to acknowledge his name and his right to reign and let us keep the law of the gospel and obey his commandments undisturbed."
Elder Heber C. Kimball arose and testified that what President Young had said was the word of the Lord, "and was just as much binding upon him as though it was written revelation and it was just as much binding upon the whole camp as it was upon him and urged the Saints to give heed to the teachings that were given." He added, "What has passed this morning will make it an everlasting blessing to the brethren, if they will repent and be faithful and keep their covenant."
Orson Pratt stated that if the Saints had leisure hours, they could easily find better things to do with their time than playing cards. "There was a world of knowledge to be obtained and every leisure moment should be improved in storing the mind with some science or learning, some good principle and acknowledge the teaching received to be of the Lord."
Wilford Woodruff next spoke and said that "a burned child dreaded the fire." He said that he had not forgotten the experience marching with Zion's Camp in 1834. He would never forget the hour when Joseph Smith stood upon a wagon wheel, rebuked the camp, and said they would be visited by the destroying angels. Death came upon the camp. Elder Woodruff hoped that they would not see a repeat of this curse on their camp. "I would advise all the brethren who have got cards to burn them up, also checkers and dominoes. For if you keep your covenants you have made you will have no time to use them & they will be useless lumber on your hands. If you keep them for your children, they will only prove a curse to them."
Stephen Markham arose and confessed that he had sinned by playing cards on Sunday before he went to preach. He asked for forgiveness. William Clayton recorded: "While he was speaking he was very much affected indeed and wept like a child. Many of the brethren felt much affected and all seemed to realize for the first time, the excess to which they had yielded and the awful consequence of such things if persisted in. Many were in tears and felt humbled." Brigham Young said that he was willing to forgive Brother Markham, that he knew he would be faithful.
The meeting ended and the men went to their wagons to start the day's journey. William Clayton wrote: "We again pursued our journey in peace, all reflecting on what has passed today, and many expressing their gratitude for what has transpired. It seemed as though we were just commencing on this important mission, and all realizing the responsibility resting upon us to conduct ourselves in such a manner that the journey may be an everlasting blessing to us, instead of an everlasting disgrace. No loud laughter was heard, no swearing, no quarreling, no profane language, no hard speeches to man or beast, and it truly seemed as though the cloud had burst and we had emerged into a new element, a new atmosphere, and a new society." Erastus Snow agreed: "The fruits of our morning's lecture were clearly seen. A very different spirit brooded over the camp."
George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff led the way by choosing the road. Wilford Woodruff wrote about the bluffs: "One large rock resembled the hull of a steamboat loaded with freight, so I named it Stone Steamboat Bluff." It started to rain before they stopped for the night. They traveled eight and a half miles. [They camped at Prayer Circle Bluffs, near the Nebraska-Wyoming state line, not far from present-day Henry, Nebraska.]
Winter Quarters, Nebraska:
Phinehas Richards kindly delivered a wagon load of fish for the guard and police. Hosea Stout spent the evening delivering them to all the families.
John D. Lee arrived from Summer Quarters to deliver some clothing and provisions to Sister Pace, a wife of James Pace away in the Mormon Battalion. At about 9 p.m., the rain came down in torrents.
St. Louis, Missouri:
Lyman Littlefield departed from St. Louis on a steamboat. He wrote: "We left the wharf at St. Louis. The morning was a lovely one. Brother Fox and myself were seated on the hurricane deck to enjoy the pleasure of a 'goodbye' sight of the city. The view presented to us was splendid. The distant city with its towers and bright domes--the many steamers at the wharf, motionless and still, while others passed and repassed on the bosom of the broad Mississippi--presented a scene of business and wealth."
Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:
Henry Standage wrote: "Today being off duty, I cut up a raw hide for lariates or long halters and to rig up my new saddle. Brethren very busy every day buying horses and preparing to start home."
Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:
Several of the men started to put up a brick kiln to burn several thousand bricks for a Mexican named Don Juan Bandini.
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, email@example.com.
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:186-190
- Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 15:54
- Autobiography of John Brown, 74-5
- Charles Harper Diary, 24
- Luke S. Johnson Journal, typescript, BYU, 10
- Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 24-5
- William Clayton's Journal, 184-201
- Lyman Littlefield Reminiscences (1888), p.190 - p.191
- Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1:258
- Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-1847 and 1859, 172
- Journal of Henry Standage in Frank Alfred Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 223
- Journal Extracts of Henry W. Bigler, Utah Historical Quarterly, 5:61