Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Mississippi Saints, 1846-1847 (General Information)

In the great Mormon migration to western United States there seems to have been three distinct plans, whereby those people who had accepted wholeheartedly the principles of the newly-found religion would begin the long journey to find a haven in the Rocky Mountains in which to establish their homes free from religious persecutions. The vast majority of these converts were to come by land under the able leadership of Brigham Young, upon whom the mantle of the Church had fallen after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Samuel Brannan was called to take charge of the Saints, some from the Eastern States, sailing on a chartered ship (Brooklyn) which would carry them around the Horn, then on to the present site of San Francisco, California. John Brown was to go into the Southern States and gather those Saints who were ready to leave their all and make the westward journey. He was given instructions to meet President Young in the Indian country. Both Brannan and Brown carried out their part of the master plan and started for the Rocky Mountains in the year 1846; but Brigham Young and the main body of the Saints were detained on the banks of the Missouri River, chiefly because of the call made by the government for five hundred of their young men to be organized into what is known in history as the Mormon Battalion.

This chapter has to deal with the southern company who started west in 1846, and failing to meet President Young, journeyed to the old Spanish Fort on the Arkansas River at Pueblo, Colorado where they stayed the winter of 1846?1847. As Mr. Brown and others returned to the South to bring their families we include those people known as Mississippi Saints who came into the Valley in 1847 as well as those who came in 1848.

On the 14th of March, 1845 John Brown and seven able-bodied men left their homes in the south and went to Nauvoo to help build the temple and defend the city from its enemies. Later he brought his family to Nauvoo, hoping to make his home, but continued persecutions by the mobs made this impossible. On the 1st day of January, 1846, Mr. Brown, accompanied by William Mathews, returned to his home having received instructions from Brigham Young to leave his family and take those who were ready to go west with him through the state of Missouri into the Indian territory.

Acting according to these instructions on the 8th day of April some fourteen families started west. Failing to meet the pioneer group they continued on until they neared old Fort Laramie in Wyoming, where they met a Mr. Reshaw (some also claim they met Clyman, the trapper) who advised them to go to the site of the present city of Pueblo, Colorado. They arrived there the 7th day of August, several months before the arrival of the sick detachments of the Mormon Battalion.

The Mississippi Saints were received kindly by the mountain men who gave them corn in return for certain labors. They cut the cottonwood trees along the Arkansas River and built their cabins about a half mile from the old Spanish fort. They also built a log church 20 x 30 feet in which they held their meetings and social affairs. During the winter of 1846?7 there were several births, deaths, and marriages; but it would seem from the many records left by the Mississippi Saints and the men and women of the Mormon Battalion who lived there, that they did not suffer much from hunger and within easy reach there was plenty of fuel. Generally speaking, the winter passed without much privation.

It is estimated that the total Mormon population of Pueblo was two hundred and seventy-five, the first white settlement in what is now the state of Colorado. Franklin D. Richards went to Pueblo in 1880 to try to find, with the aid of a map, the grave of his brother, J. W. Richards, but during the intervening years the Arkansas River had overflowed its banks several times and each time the channel was changed. No trace was ever found of the grave or the settlement.

When Apostle Amasa M. Lyman arrived in Great Salt Lake Valley in October, 1848, he located a number of families from Mississippi and other southern states, at a point between the two Cottonwood creeks, about ten miles southeast from the Great Salt Lake City fort. A tract of country, consisting of about one square mile, was surveyed and divided into 10-acre lots for the convenience of the settlers, among whom were William Crosby, Daniel M. Thomas, John Brown, John H. Bankhead, William H. Lay and others with their respective families. The place of their location was subsequently known as the "Amasa Survey."

During the fall and winter of 1848 a few houses were built of logs, which the brethren hauled from near the mouth of Big Cottonwood and Mill Creek canyons, but most of the people lived in their tents and wagons until spring when a number of other houses were built. In the meantime water had been taken out of the two Cottonwood creeks and other improvements made. The number of settlers was also increased by several families locating at various points along the creeks. A Ward organization, known originally as the Cottonwood Ward, was effected with William Crosby as bishop. James M. Flake was one of his counselors. During the winter of 1849 a small crop of wheat was raised, but it grew so scattered and short that when harvest time came, most of it had to be pulled by hand. The little colony was composed of industrious people, and they eked out a meager living from the soil.

When Apostle Lyman was called to San Bernardino, California a great number of these Mississippi Saints accompanied him. In 1858 most of them returned to Utah because of the coming of government troops into the Valley. Nearly all of these people established permanent homes in southern Utah.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.