Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Pioneer Date Summary

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07/23/1847 - Crockett

Date: July 23, 1997

Salt Lake Valley, Utah:
John Pack and Joseph Matthews left in the morning give a report to Brigham Young regarding the arrival of the pioneers in the valley. Thomas Bullock included a chart of distances that estimated Winter Quarters as 1073 miles from Salt Lake Valley.

At the same time, the main camp moved on to "the final location" on the banks of City Creek. The soil was good by the creek and the grass was about four feet high and thick. [Erastus Snow explained: "The creek divided just below this Temple Block, one branch running west and the other south. It was on the south branch of the creek we formed our camp on the noon of the 23rd.]

As soon as the camp was formed, the camp was called together for a special meeting. Orson Pratt stated that they had been striving for two years to reach this place. He said that they had been greatly blessed in their journey and he proposed that they return their thanks to their Heavenly Father. They all united in a prayer. Orson Pratt thanked the Lord for their preservation and prosperity. He then asked the Lord to bless their labors and to send rain on the land for the crops they would be planting. Elder Pratt consecrated and dedicated themselves and the land to the Lord.

Willard Richards spoke about the need to work faithfully and diligently to get the potatoes, corn, beans, peas, buckwheat, turnips, and other crops in the ground. He mentioned that in times past there had been a spirit of selfishness among the camp that must now be thrown aside. All must go to work to put in seeds, taking no thought as to who would be the ones to eat the fruits of the labor. If they disputed as to who should eat the crops, their labors would not be blessed. He made reference to the Donner-Reed party, who quarrelled among themselves and ended up starving. It would be worse for the pioneers unless they worked together for those who would follow after them. Other speakers at this historic meeting included Shadrach Roundy, Seth Taft, Stephen Markham, Robert Crow, and Albert Carrington.

The meeting ended and the men went to work. Committees were appointed to do the various work. Shadrach Roundy, Seth Taft, Stephen Markham, Robert Crow, and Albert Carrington were appointed to find a place to plant the crops. Charles Harper, Charles Shumway, and Elijah Newman were put on a committee to stock plows and drags and enlist men to assist them. Henson Walker, William Wadsworth and John Brown were to be in charge of moving and rigging up the scythes. Stephen Markham was appointed to attend to the teams and make sure a fresh set were hitched up every four hours. Almon Williams was asked to oversee the making of a coal pit. George A. Smith asked the men to only use dead timber for their cooking, to leave the live trees alone.

William Clayton wrote: "The brethren immediately rigged three plows and went to plowing a little northeast of the camp [between 200 and 300 South and State Street and 200 East]; another party went with spades, etc., to make a dam on one of the creeks so as to throw the water at pleasure on the field, designing to irrigate the land in case rain should not come sufficiently. This land is beautifully situated for irrigation, many nice streams descending from the mountains which can be turned in every direction so as to water any portion of the lands at pleasure."

The first furrow was turned at noon. William Carter was credited with plowing the first ground. At 2 p.m., work was started on the dam. At 4 p.m. grass was mowed for a turnip patch. At 6 p.m., their prayers were quickly answers as heavy clouds collected and it rained for two hours. Some of their plows broke in the hard ground during the day, but they usually had three plows going at all times. The afternoon temperature was ninety-six degrees. By nightfall, they had plowed three acres.

In the evening, the camp was called together again. Willard Richards spoke again. They made arrangements to rotate the teams during the next day from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. John Pack and Joseph Matthews returned and reported that Brigham Young's company was within ten miles and all the sick were doing better.

Brigham Young Company in East Canyon, Utah:
Brigham Young and the rest of the pioneers started their journey at 6:45. Brigham Young recorded this historic journal entry: "July 23rd: I ascended and crossed over the Big Mountain, when on its summit I directed Elder Woodruff, who kindly tendered me the use of his carriage, to turn the same half way round, so that I could have a view of a portion of Salt Lake valley. The Spirit of Light rested upon me, and hovered over the valley, and I felt that there the saints would find protection and safety. We descended and encamped at the foot of the Little Mountain."

[So it appears that Brigham Young uttered his historic words of approval on Big Mountain, on July 23rd. Thirty-three years later, in 1880, after Brigham Young's death, Wilford Woodruff told a similar account, but said it occurred on the 24th at a different place: "When we came out of the canon into full view of the valley, I turned the side of my carriage around, open to the west, and President Young arose from his bed and took a survey of the country. While gazing on the scene before us, he was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the valley before in vision, and upon this occasion he saw the future glory of Zion and of Israel, as they would be, planted in the valleys of these mountains. When the vision had passed, he said: "It is enough. This is the right place, drive on." (Utah Pioneers, p. 23).

On July 24, 1888, Wilford Woodruff again told a slightly different version: "When we came upon the bench, where we had a fair view of the valley before us, I turned the side of the vehicle to the west, so that he could obtain a fair view of the valley. President Young arose from his bed and took a survey of the country before him for several minutes. He then said to me, 'Drive on down into the valley; this is our abiding place. I have seen it before in vision. In this valley will be built the City of the Saints and the Temple of our God.'"]

And a third version given in 1892: "I brought President Young in my carriage into the valley of Salt Lake. He was sick, and he asked me to turn my carriage so that he could get sight of the valley. I did so. He cast his eyes over the valley and looked for some little time. When he got through he said, "Brother Woodruff, drive on. Here is our home. This is the place God has pointed out for us to plant our feet. I have seen this place before." He began to recover right from that time."

Finally, a forth version given in 1897: "JULY 24, 1847 -- I brought President Young in my carriage into the valley of Salt Lake. He was sick, and he asked me to turn my carriage so that he could get sight of the valley. I did so. He cast his eyes over the valley and looked for some little time. When he got through, he said, "Brother Woodruff, drive on. Here is our home. This is the place God has pointed out for us to plant our feet. I have seen this place before." He began to recover right from that time."]

Howard Egan wrote of the view on Big Mountain: "Here we had a fine view of the snowy mountains and the open country in the distance." While coming down Big Mountain, the company was kept very busy dodging all the stumps from trees cleared out by the advance companies. Lorenzo Young's wagon with children was turned over and smashed on a rock. The children were not hurt although part of the wagon load had been dumped on them. They were freed by cutting a hole in the wagon cover.

The rear company spent the noon rest at the base of Little Mountain. While three, John Pack and Joseph Matthews arrived from the valley. Wilford Woodruff recorded: "They brought a letter to us & informed us it was only 10 miles to the valley of the Salt Lake or great basin & 14 to their camp. They had explored the country as far as possible & had made choice of a spot to put in seeds. They considered it the greatest grazing country in the world but was destitute of timber as far as they had been. Several fine streams of fresh water cutting through the valley."

After the noon rest, they climbed Little Mountains and descended into Emigration canyon where they made their camp. Howard Egan wrote: "A short time after our arrival at this place, the sky became overcast with clouds, and a strong wind, setting in from the southwest, gives the appearance of a very heavy storm. The grass here is rather tall and rank, though in places is pretty good. The sick are gaining strength as fast as could be expected, considering the fatigue of the journey. The day has been the hottest we have experienced since we left Winter Quarters. There was not a breath of air in the ravine, and the dust was almost suffocating."

Wilford Woodruff climbed the top of a very high mountain. "Was in a high state of perspiration when I reached the top of it."

Mormon Ferry, Wyoming:
James Davenport left the ferry site to return to Winter Quarters. He left dissatisfied and said he would tell the Saints that they had robbed him. An emigration company arrived, heading for Oregon. They had lost oxen and horses, run off by buffalo. In their company was a Mormon widow who was going to Oregon with her brother. She intended to rejoin the main body of the church at an early opportunity. She was acquainted with John Higbee.

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
It rained during the night and into the morning. The pioneer companies remained in their camps while they waited for the Jedediah Grant hundred to catch up. The Indians again visited the camp in even larger numbers, including women and children. Trading took place for moccasins, buffalo robes, and other items. In the evening a feast and dance was held. The Indians would dance for the Saints and then the Saints would return the compliment by playing violins, fifes, and drums. Cheers were hear throughout the camp. The pioneers fired two cannons and soon all the Indians returned to their lodges in peace. The Grant company pulled within three miles of the other companies. They had heard the cannons in the distance. As they traveled, they noticed initials inscribed on the sides of a bluff.

Summer Quarters, Nebraska:
A terrible sickness continued to take hold of Summer Quarters. Isaac Morley called the brethren together and asked them to settle all their differences that unity would prevail in the community. Some had said that they would wait for Brigham Young to return. Brother Morley told them that this a wrong spirit and if he had to, he would cut some of them off the Summer Quarters branch of the Church. They received the message well and agreed to drop their differences. John D. Lee and his family were suddenly struck down by the illness. [This disease would claim the lives of seventeen more members of the Summer Quarters settlement.]

Near Los Angeles, California:
Robert S. Bliss and the advance company passed over a mule path on a ridge. He wrote: "On either side of us was an awful gulf. My head grew dizzy & I dare not look into the chasms below; We passed in safety down the other side of the Mts to a spring & encamped 8 or 10 miles from our last encampment." Behind them, the rest of Levi Hancock's company left the camp north of Los Angeles. They traveled in a scattered state toward General Pico's ranch of the "arcaldres" which had two large gardens and a vineyard covering two hundred acres. They saw grapes, figs, pears, apricots, cherries, plums, peaches, apples, olives, and dates.


  • William Clayton's Journal, p.312
  • Norton Jacob Journal, typescript, 108-09
  • Charles Harper Journal, 31
  • Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 456-57
  • Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 233-34
  • Erastus Snow in Utah Pioneers, p. 46
  • Collected Discourses, Vol.1, Wilford Woodruff, July 24, 1888
  • Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:232-33
  • Journal of William Empey, Annals of Wyoming, 21:143
  • Jesse W. Crosby Journal, typescript, BYU, 38
  • William Scearce Journal, typescript, 2
  • The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:111
  • Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-1847 and 1859, 196-97
  • Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 186
  • Hoshide & Bagley, eds., The 1847 Donner Camp Diary of Levi Hancock
  • Howard Egan Diary, Pioneering the West, 101-02
  • The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p.317
  • Collected Discourses, Vol.3, President Wilford Woodruff, June 12th and 13th, 1892
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.