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04/26/1847 - Crockett

Description: Crayon drawing by Kellee a 5th grader at Barnett Elementary.
Image courtesy of: Heritage Gateway Project Images, These images have been gathered to support the Sesquicentennial celebration of the immigration to Utah.

Location: Palmer, Nebraska - Location: 41:13:20N 98:15:25W Elevation: 1798 feet

Date: April 26, 1847

On the Loup Fork, Nebraska:
At about 3 a.m. an alarm was sounded, indicating that Indians were attacking the camp. Luke S. Johnson recorded: "About 3 O clock the guards perceived 6 Indians making for the camp as fast as possible. The guards stept out of the way untill they crept up close to camp. The guards then fired twice, snapt a pistol once, but did not hit them. They retreated back. Suddenly the bugle gave the alarm. Every man in camp was soon up with his rifle. Col Markum then ordered a strong guard to be placed around the camp. It was done so daylight afeard no more Indians seen." After examining the tracks, it was determined that the Indians were Sioux.

Thomas Bullock recorded this version of the incident: "John Eldredge says he thought he saw a couple of Wolves coming to the Camp within four rods & determined to have some fun, run as if to chase them, when they rose up on their feet & turned out to be two Indians. He levelled his pistol but it did not go off. He then called to Kendall & Kelsey who fired their Guns, four other Indians having jumped up & run. A general alarm being raised nearly all men were found to be at their posts, under their commanders of Tens who continued on Guard till Sunrise."

At 8 a.m., the camp was on the move. There was no road to travel on, so Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, Amasa Lyman and others scouted ahead for the best route to follow along the south banks of the Loup Fork. The horse teams traveled first to break the strong grass so that it would not hurt the oxen's feet. Wilford Woodruff and others went off hunting, saw eight deer and four antelope, but could not catch anything. The country was beginning to change. The large trees had disappeared and instead they saw small scrubby trees and willows near the river. The pioneers had to cross many mud sloughs and small ridges. The company went seven miles and then stopped at 11:30 a.m. near some ponds to feed the teams. About one hundred Indians trails were crossed during the day. They could see "an old dilapidated Pawnee Indian village" across the river.

Ezra T. Benson discovered that one of his iron axles was broken. He shifted the load in the wagon so that very little weight would be but on the broken portion, and traveled this way the rest of the day.

At 1:45 p.m., they continued the journey. After a few miles they saw another deserted village across river. At 6:15, they established the night's camp a half mile from the Loup Fork, near a small gravel creek named Elk Sand Creek. Some signs of buffalo were found for the first time. William Clayton recorded: "About a mile back from this place situated on a high bench of land on the banks of the river is the remains of an Indian village, the houses or lodges being all down and no appearance of timber left. The entrances to these lodges all face to the southeast, the same as those back at the other village. There has evidently been a garden around the village as the land has been broken and bears marks of cultivation."

In the evening, Ezra T. Benson unloaded his broken wagon, the axle was taken off, and Thomas Tanner's forge set up. William Clayton reported: "The axle was welded and fixed ready to put on the wagon again. This work was done in the short space of one hour after the encampment had been formed, the welding being done by Burr Frost."

Wilford Woodruff wrote: "Just at dusk, a tremendious alarm was given through the camp that Indians had cralled up & taken Porter Rockwell & his horse & made off with him. Many men mounted their horses & made off after him with all speed but it was soon discovered that Rockwell was in the camp but two horses were gone." These horses belonged to Willard Richards and Jesse C. Little. Because they ran off at full speed, it was thought that they were stolen by Indians. Men sent out to find them. They searched long and hard, aided by a bright half moon, but returned at 11 p.m. without finding them.

Howard Egan wrote: "About 3 o'clock Brother [Joseph] Matthews was out hunting his horses and saw a horse at a distance, supposing it to be Brother Little's, went toward him. Before he got near him the horse put off at full speed toward the river. He then supposed there was an Indian on him. He returned to the camp and gave the alarm, when five or six men jumped on their horses and followed in the direction, but could not see or hear anything of the Indian."

William Clayton summarized: "The brethren have been repeatedly warned not to let their horses go far from their wagons, but every time we stop they can be seen around for more than two miles. These are two good horses and the owners feel bad enough, but it will be a warning to others to be more careful."

Winter Quarters, Nebraska:
Hosea Stout and Horace Eldredge rode to Bellevue to take a letter to the Indian Agent, John Miller. They arrived at noon, but Miller was not at home, so they left it with his clerk who seemed pleased at the proposal to haul corn for the Indians. Hosea Stout recorded some alarming news: "While there, we were informed that four Omaha womens went out near to the big spring where we first camped after crossing the river [Cold Spring Camp] to get some corn and while there were attacked by some Sioux . . . who killed two and wounded one more of the women. They fled to the village and gave the alarm whereupon 150 Omahas & Otoes started after them on horse back and over took & killed seven, who they found in a deep ravine. There were two Omahas killed in the conflict, one by an Otoe through mistake." While returning to Winter Quarters, Hosea Stout saw the war party on the prairie returning to Bellevue.

Summer Quarters, Nebraska:
At 11 a.m., Isaac Morley and Charles Bird arrived from Winter Quarters. They reported that the chief of the Otoes had met with the leaders. The Otoes had emphasized they they owned the land, not the Omahas. The Otoes requested the Saints to help them haul corn.

Keokuk, Iowa:
Luman Shurtliff left the Mississippi River with Brother Tidwell and two yoke of oxen, taking the provisions collected, and headed for Garden Grove.

Sutter's Mill, California:
Samuel Brannan, Charles Smith and another man left Sutter's Mill with mules and horses loaded with provisions, hoping to locate the pioneers heading for California. They also carried copies of the California Star. "At first they were somewhat fearful they might meet the same fate as the Donner party in the high Sierras, but they made the forty-mile crossing of the Truckee Pass in about 26 hours -- the same pass that had trapped the ill-fated Donner party. Sam in his writings, gave credit to his Heavenly Father who, he said, 'led them on their way.'"

Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:
Companies D and E received six month's pay of $42. The two companies joined Company A on the hill where they were building the fort. The pony express returned after delivering the dispatch to the companies at Cajon Pass, ordering them to return. The express traveled 120 miles in just sixteen hours.

Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:
Lydia Hunter, wife of Captain Jesse C. Hunter died at 10 p.m.. She had given birth to a son six days earlier. Juanita Wrightington, a local lady, agreed to take care of the infant.


  • Luke S. Johnson Journal, typescript, BYU, 4
  • Howard Egan's Diary, Pioneering the West, 29-30
  • Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 14:820
  • Luman Shurtliff Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.74
  • Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:160
  • Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-1847 and 1859, 156-57
  • Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 133-34
  • Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1: 252
  • Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 3, p.480
  • Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 2, p.516
  • William Clayton's Journal, p.105
  • Journal of Henry Standage in Frank Alfred Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 219
  • The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:17
  • Private Journal of Thomas Dunn, typescript, 24
  • Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion, U.S. Army of the West, 1846-1848, 136
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.