04/20/1847 - CrockettLocation: Monroe, Nebraska - Location: 41:28:27N 97:35:57W
Date: April 20, 1847
On the Platte River, Nebraska:
The pioneers arose at 5:30 a.m., ate breakfast, and were on the trail at 7:30 a.m. The wind kicked up sand and dust on the wagons as they traveled. Wilfood Woodruff recorded: "There are many water fowls about the Platte such as ducks, geese, brant, but the most numerous of all are the sand hill cranes which fly in large flocks on every side of us." They passed by numerous islands in the river. One of them was about ten acres, covered with timber.
At 9:15 a.m., after traveling about five miles, they arrived at Shell Creek, which was about eight feet wide. They found a poor bridge that had been built over it. They managed to get all the wagons safely across using the bridge. After passing through a small grove of trees, they came out on a wide, open prairie. They were fascinated by a large prairie dog village that covered about six acres.
At 11:30, after traveling another five miles, the company rested near a muddy lake. While there, three deer were spotted. Orrin Porter Rockwell and Thomas Brown tried to chase after them on their horses, but did not succeed in catching them. John S. Higbee, Luke S. Johnson, and Stephen Markham left while the company was still resting, to go ahead with the boat wagon, hoping to catch fish ahead. Orson Pratt and Wilford Woodruff went forward to scout the road.
At 1:00 p.m., they pioneers continued their journey. The road was dry and level with an occasional gopher hole to bump the wagon wheels. Some of the holes were six feet across with three-inch ridges. Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball went on ahead to choose the next camping site. After about ten more miles, making twenty total, the night's encampment was established at 5:30 p.m near a cottonwood grove on the banks of the Platte River. The wagons were arranged in a semi-circle next to a small island near the bank of the river. The teams were turned loose to feed on the island for the night. Cottonwood trees were cut down for the horses to browse on. Additionally, each horse was given about three quarts of corn. [This encampment was south of present-day Monroe, Nebraska].
The men who had gone ahead with the boat wagon soon returned with about 213 nice fish which had been caught with a net. The fish were distributed around the camp, about two to each wagon. Many enjoyed cooking fish for supper. In the evening, Thomas Tanner set up his portable forge and set several wagon tires.
William Clayton wrote: "I went to the river and washed my feet which were very dusty and sore. I also washed my socks as well as I could in cold water without soap. After Brother Luke Johnson had got through distributing fish, I went and asked him to draw my tooth. He willingly agreed and getting his instruments, I sat down in a chair, he lanced the gum, then took his nippers and jerked it out. The whole operation did not take more than one minute. He only got half the original tooth, the balance being left in the jaw. After this, my head and face pained me much more than before. I ate but little supper and then lay down, but could not sleep for pain till near morning."
Because the camp was only about eight miles from the Pawnee Village, it was thought wise to raise a patrol guard for the night. Many of the men took time during the late evening to write letters to their wives. They planned to send these letters back with the traders at the Pawnee Village.
Brigham Young wrote a letter to his wife Mary Ann Angell, back at Winter Quarters. "The camp is in good health and first rate spirits. They have never felt better in their lives. I think my health has very much improved yesterday and today. You mentioned in you letter that you heard I lay on the ground the night I left home. I did but do not think it hurt me, but when I arrived in camp I found my self completly tired out. I thank you a thousand times for your kind letters to me, more especially for your kind acts and still more for your kind heart." He added a note to his sons Jospeph (age 12) and Brigham Jr. (age 10). "My son Joseph you must not go away from home and Brigham also must stay at home. How do you suppose I would feel when I come home and find one of my children destroyed by the Indians? I pray this may not be the case."
Thomas Bullock wrote a letter to his wife which included: "Driving a 2 yoke ox-team is a different kind of work than I am used to and having to tend to the cattle myself, leaves me little time to read. I was glad to hear from you the second time, but sorry to hear by G. A. Smith that my little Charles is worse. Get into your new house and be happy and contented until I come for you next fall. I have just washed my shirt and sox in the wilderness fashion. I have taken a bath also. President Young says I did right in making 2 copies of the route and leaving them behind. He has just been instructing me of God's works in the eternity of space. He has ordered me to ride as much as possible. I have just been in his carriage and a very comfortable place he has got and I am glad for it. Take care of the waterbottle and find the other one if possible. Be a good girl and take care of yourself and my children."
Howard Egan wrote to his wife Tamson: "I never in my life had such feelings while away from home as I have on this trip. I cannot say that I feel sorrowful because I am where I delight to be in the society of my Father Heber [C. Kimball] where I can receive instruction and counsel from his lips. My health has been very good since I left home and we are all getting along first rate, we are about 100 hundred miles from Winter Quarters tonight. We travel at the rate of 20 miles per day; the roads are very very good and it is a beautiful country. Tamson I feel sorrowful when I reflect on your situation for I know your feeling when I am away from you, but I feel easy when I realize that you have a kind and generous hearted mother who will do all that she can for the comfort of those around her."
Winter Quarters, Nebraska:
An early morning meeting was held by Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor to discuss the best way to protect the herds from the Omahas. It was decided that each bishop would establish a herd for his ward. Armed guards would be appointed to defend the cattle against the Indians. The bishops were also asked to number the cattle that had been killed, so a report could be sent to Omaha Chief, Big Elk. Hosea Stout was ordered to take ten men on horseback to travel around the country to search for any Omahas. They were to whip any that they found hiding in wait to steal cattle. Brother Stout did as he was asked, armed with horse whips, but returned in the afternoon without finding any Indians.
The High Council wrote to Daniel Spencer and Daniel Russell across the river, asking them to haul corn for the Omaha Indians from Waldo's ferry on the Nishnabotna River to Bellevue, at Council Bluffs.
Mary Richards received word that Joseph Cain had a chest brought from England for Mary and Jane Richards, from the husbands, Samuel and Franklin Richards. Mary quickly went to Jane's home but was very disappointed to learn that the key to the chest was still on the other side of the river. She did enjoy hearing Brother Cain talk about her missionary husband. Samuel and Franklin Richards were loved by the British Saints. After a two-hour visit, Joseph Cain left. In the evening, the key arrived and Mary had a wonderful time reading three letters from her husband and looking at the gifts that he had seen back for her.
During the night, Hosea Stout was awakened by Thomas Clark, who reported that a large number of Indians were in the city. The police guard was immediately gathered. They patrolled the town for several hours but did not find the reported group of Indians.
Summer Quarters, Nebraska:
John D. Lee and others worked to put a roof on one of the cabins. They also finished the chimney, and plowed a garden. In the evening, the brethren me at John D. Lee's house to discuss building a lot to secure the cattle. A place was chosen. A heated discussion began about the policy of dividing up the land. Some of the men were dissatisfied about the fairness of the division. Brother Lee spoke firmly that the men should sustain the decision of the leaders. "Unless we are united we cannot prosper and that [I] would sooner undertake to fortify against the Indians with 20 families well united than to risk 100 that are not." Soon good feelings again were established.
Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:
Lydia Hunter, wife of Jesse Hunter, gave birth to a son who they named Diego. He was believed to be the first child born to American parents in San Diego. Another ship arrived in the harbor.
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.
- Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 540
- Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-1847 and 1859, 152-53
- Luke S. Johnson, Pioneers Journal of 1847, typescript, BYU, 2
- Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 14:818
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:152-53
- Howard Egan's Diary, Pioneering the West, 26-7
- "Brigham Young's Family: The WIlderness Years," The Exodus and Beyond, 40
- Ward, ed., Winter Quarters, The 1846-1848 Life Writings of Mary Haskin Parker Richards, 119
- Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1:251
- Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.238
- Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 14, p.505
- Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion, U.S. Army of the West, 1846-1848, 135
- The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:91