07/24/1847 - Crockett
Date: July 24, 1847
Emigration Canyon, Utah:
As Brigham Young and the remaining pioneers in Emigration Canyon arose, they discovered that some of the horses were missing, belonging to Horace K. Whitney, William Smoot, Howard Egan, and Frank Dewey. Howard Egan returned three miles and found them. This group started their journey about two hours after Brigham Young and the others.
Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal: "July 24, 1847: This is an important day in the history of my life and the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On this important day, after traveling from our encampment six miles through the deep ravine-valley ending with the canyon through the Last Creek, we came in full view of the great valley or basin [of the] Salt Lake and the land of promise held in reserve by the hand of God for a resting place for the saints upon which a portion of the Zion of God will be built. We gazed with wonder and admiration upon the vast, rich, fertile valley which lay for about twenty-five miles in length and 16 miles in width, clothed with the heaviest garb of green vegetation in the midst of which lay a large lake of salt water. . . . Our hearts were surely made glad after a hard journey--from Winter Quarters--of 1200 miles through flats of Platte river and steeps of the Black Hills and the Rocky Mountains, and burning sands of the eternal sage region, and willow swales and rocky canons and stumps and stones--to gaze upon a valley of such vast extent entirely surrounded with a perfect chain of everlasting hills and mountains, covered with eternal snows, with their innumerable peaks like pyramids towering towards heaven, presenting at one view the grandest and most sublime scenery that could be obtained on the globe. Thoughts of pleasing meditation ran in rapid succession through our minds while we contemplated that not many years hence and that the House of God would stand upon the top of the mountains, while the valleys would be converted into orchards, vineyards, gardens and fields by the inhabitants of Zion, the standard be unfurled for the nations to gather thereto. President Young expressed his full satisfaction in the appearance of the valley as a resting place for the saints, and was amply repaid for his journey."
Brigham Young's journal entry read: "I started early this morning and after crossing Emigration Kanyon Creek eighteen times emerged from the kanyon."
Howard Egan recorded: "We then left the ravine and turned to the right and ascended a very steep pitch, where we beheld the great valley of the Salt Lake spreading out before us. My heart felt truly glad, and I rejoiced at having the privilege of beholding his extensive and beautiful valley, that may yet become a home for the Saints. From this point we could see the blue waters of the Salt Lake." Brother Egan climbed a ridge at the mouth of the canyon to get a better view. "The whole surface of the valley appears, from here, to be level and beautiful. The distance from here to the lake is judged to be forty to fifty miles. Throughout the whole extent of the valley can be seen very many green patches of rich looking grass, which no doubt lays on the banks of creeks and streams. There is some little timber also on the streams, and in the direction of the great lake many small lakes appear upon the surface."
Albert P. Rockwood recorded that they shouted "hallelujah" when they came within full view of the valley. Horace K. Whitney wrote: "We passed over a level shelf or bottom for some distance & then descended to the 2nd shelf or bottom below, from whence we had a plain view of the camp of the Saints ahead. After going 7 1/4 miles, we came to it & encamped with the remainder of the brethren." [Brother Whitney and those who got a late start, arrived about 1 p.m.]
Salt Lake Valley, Utah:
Plowing and planting continued in the morning. Potatoes were put into the ground. [This five-acre potato patch was near present-day Main Street from about First South to Third South.] Work continued on damming city creek for irrigation. During the morning the ditches were filled with water and the newly planted ground was soaked. Corn was also planted. John Pack and Joseph Matthews returned to Emigration Canyon to fix two bridges near the mouth of the canyon.
At 11:45 a.m., Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and the rest of the wagons arrived at the City Creek camp. The pioneers rejoiced to see President Young feeling much better. They further discussed the valley. William Clayton wrote: "There appears to be a unanimous agreement in regard to the richness of the soil and there are good prospects of sustaining and fattening stock with little trouble. The only objection is a lack of timber and rain. The latter God will send in its season if the Saints are faithful and I think yesterday was a proof that He listens to and answers the prayers of the Saints. We can easily irrigate the land at all events which will be an unfailing and certain source of water, for the springs are numerous and the water appears good."
Wilford Woodruff wrote: "As soon as we were located in the encampment, before I took my dinner, having one-half bushels of potatoes I repaired to the plowed field and planted my potatoes, hoping with the blessings of God at least to save the seed for another year. The brethren had dammed up one of the creeks and dug a trench, and by night nearly the whole ground was irrigated with water. We found the ground very dry. Towards evening, in company with Brothers Kimball, Smith and Benson, I rode several miles up the creek into the mountains to look for timber and see the country, etc. There was a thunder shower and it extended nearly over the whole valley, also it rained some the forepart of the night, we felt thankful for this as it was the general opinion that it did not rain in the valley during the summer time."
Howard Egan added: "This valley is bounded by high mountains, some of them covered with snow, and from what knowledge we have of it at present, this is the most safe and secure place the Saints could possibly locate themselves in. Nature has fortified this place on all sides, with only a few narrow passes, which could be made impregnable without much difficulty. The scarcity of timber has probably been the reason that this beautiful valley has not been settled long since by the Gentiles. But I think we can find sufficient timber up the creeks for present purposes, and also coal in the mountains. The saints have reason to rejoice, and thank the Lord for this goodly land unpopulated by the Gentiles."
Not everyone was pleased with the valley. Harriet Young, tired and recovering from illness wrote: "We arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. My feelings were such as I cannot describe. Every thing looked gloomy and I felt heart sick." [In 1947, the First Presidency issued this statement: "That little band of weary-worn travelers gazed upon a barren landscape so uninviting and desolate that one of the three women in the company out of sheer disappointment and hopelessness broke down and wept. Truly to her, and to others of the company, it must have seemed impossible that in such a desert place could be fulfilled the prophecy of their great leader, Joseph Smith, that the Saints "would become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains."]
Joseph Hancock had been sent up City Creek Canyon to hunt. Norton Jacob recorded: "Brother Hancock returned at evening from up the creek and reported abundance of bear signs and a large quantity of valuable timber on the mountain and in the valley of the creek, rock maple, white oak, fir and norway pine, all of which suitable for sawing into lumber. Killed nothing but a prairie chicken." Lewis B. Myers and one of Brother Crow's sons left taking pack horses to hunt for food for the Mississippi families. They planned to be gone a month, getting their supply of meat for the winter.
Heber C. Kimball announced plans to send an exploring party on Monday to travel north to Bear River and Cache Valleys. Another expedition would be sent south to Utah Lake.
South Pass, Wyoming:
The Kearny detachment including members of the Mormon Battalion passed through South Pass and camped on the Sweetwater.
Mormon Ferry, Wyoming:
Four men from California with twelve mules and a horse arrived at the river crossing. They told the brethren that they had met the pioneers on July 10, only four days travel [by horse] from the Salt Lake. [This was the group that was traveling with Miles Goodyear.] They also said that they had met the Mormon Battalion soldiers at Green River. A company of sixteen wagons heading to Oregon soon arrived. They said that they believed they were the last company on the road and that they had had a terrible problem losing their horses among the thick herds of buffalo. They had lost 17 horses and 40 head of cattle.
On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
About 677 miles behind, the second company of pioneer, unaware that their new home had been found, left their camp at Cedar Bluffs and passed the Indian lodges which were on the other side of the river. Jesse W. Crosby recorded: "Some of our men went over to their lodges and were kindly received and invited to dine, which invitation they accepted. Their meal consisted of dried meal pounded. Our men bought some oxen of them which they had found with Buffalo. All the dishes which the Indians has were earth shells; skins of beasts were used to carry water, corn, etc. . . . This body of which we speak is merely a hunting party -- 2 or 3 hundred strong, with considerable number of horses, for pack horses. Eliza R. Snow wrote: "I took a view of their town thro' a spy-glass -- their tents or lodges are small of skins gaily painted." Many of the Indians followed the companies as they traveled, still trying to make bargains with the pioneers.
Winter Quarters, Nebraska:
Mary Richards wrote: "Weather quite hot, churned. Cleaned the house, baked and braided 1 yard."
North of Los Angeles, California:
Robert S. Bliss and the advance company arrived at Francisco Ranch where they bought cattle and more provisions for their journey over the Sierra Nevadas. He wrote: "We are in a delightful Valley surrounded by the Everlasting hills of California; we are now about 180 miles north of San Diego still the sun at noon is almost vertical or overhead but we have the trade winds from the Ocean which makes the atmosphere delightful.
Others, a day behind, traveled on the rugged, steep ridge. Daniel Tyler recorded: "Two pack-animals lost their footing and rolled twenty or thirty feet before they could regain it."
Cohose, New York:
Elder Lyman Little field reached Cohose, a little town on the Mohawk River near present-day Albany, New York. He wrote: Standing on the Erie Canal, one half mile west of the village, a magnificent scene spread before the beholder. There is a long succession of canal locks. The Cohose Falls, down which the clear waters pour, send upwards a mist of spray to dance in wreaths of playful fantasy in the glancing sunbeams, while the waters of the "old canal" rested in their basins, a few feet below. . . . Night soon hovered over the scene, and Dr. Daniel Olts, of Cortland County, (that state), and myself returned to our boat and passed the evening with our books."
- William Clayton's Journal, 314
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:233-35
- Autobiography of John Brown, 78
- Albert P. Rockwood Journal, typescript, 63
- Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 458
- Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 564
- Howard Egan Diary, Pioneering the West, 103-05
- Norton Jacob Journal, typescript, 109-10
- James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.6, p.265
- Lyman Littlefield Reminiscences (1888), p.196 - p.197
- Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, 93
- Ward, Winter Quarters, 152
- Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 186
- Excerpts from Journal of Horace K. Whitney, Improvement Era, July 1947, 447
- The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:21
- The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:111
- Jesse W. Crosby Journal, typescript, BYU, 38
- Journal of William Empey, Annals of Wyoming, 21:143
- Tyler, A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion, 306
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.