06/21/1847 - Crockett
Date: June 21, 1847
Independence Rock, Wyoming:
Wilford Woodruff and John Brown arose early, ate breakfast with the Missouri company, and then rode all the way around Independence Rock which was about 3/4 mile. Elder Woodruff wrote: "We examined the many names & lists of names of trappers, traders, travellers, & emigrants which are painted upon these rocks. Nearly all the names were put on with red, black & yellow paint. Some had washed out & defaced. The greatest number was put on within a few years. Some of them were quite plain of about 30 years standing." The brethren staked down their horses and climbed the rock. About halfway up, they found an opening or cavern that could fit about 30 or 40 people.
A rock sat on the highest point that probably weighted about three tons. The brethren got on top of this rock and offered prayers. They prayed for President Young, the Twelve, all the pioneer camp, and the whole camp of Israel. The also prayed for their wives and children, the families of the Mormon Battalion, and all the churches abroad. They asked the Lord to hasten the building up of Zion. Elder Woodruff wrote: "while offering up our prayers, the spirit of the Lord descended upon us and we truly felt to rejoice." While they were praying, the Missourians were burying a woman by the name of Rachel Morgan who they believed had been poisoned by cooking in new copper pans. Two other family members had died earlier.
As the brethren descended, Elder Woodruff had the historical thought that he was the first Latter-day Saints to climb the rock and offer prayers. They could see the pioneer camp heading toward Independence rock, and expected that they would spend the noon rest there. They mounted their horses and rode to the top of a high bluff and could see the pioneer camp in motion. They rode all the way to Devils gate and then hurried back to Independence Rock to greet the pioneers.
On the Oregon Trail, Wyoming:
Porter Rockwell left in the morning to go hunt for the missing brethren. After the pioneers traveled about three miles, they came to a swampy area with several salty ponds with unpleasant odor. They gathered up bushels of saleratus [sodium bicarbonate -- baking soda]. William Clayton explained: "The beds of saleratus smell like lime, but the saleratus itself is said to raise bread equal to the best bought eastern markets. Lorenzo Young gathered a pail full in a short time with a view to test its qualities. Large quantities may be gathered in a short time and when pulverized it looks clean and nice."
At noon, the Sweetwater was reached. The river was about 120 feet across and three feet deep at a place that used to be used as a place to ford the river. The stopped about a mile from Independence rock. William Clayton wrote: "After we halted, Sister Harriet Young made some bread using the lake saleratus and when baked was pronounced to raise the bread and taste equal to the best she had ever used and it requires less of this than the common saleratus. A number of the brethren went back during the halt and filled their pails with it calculating to make use of it during our future journey."
To the relief of the camp, they met up again with Wilford Woodruff and John Brown. Brigham Young met them a half a mile from the rock. Wilford Woodruff explained why they had not returned the previous night. Brigham Young invited Elder Woodruff to go with him to the rock.
A few of the brethren went ahead to climb Independence rock during the noon rest. Howard Egan described: "It is a barren mass of bare granite, more so than any others in the region, and is probably 400 yards long and 80 yards wide, and about 100 yard perpendicular height. The ascent is very difficult all around, but the southwest corner appears to be the easiest to ascend. There are hundreds of person who have visited it and painted their names there with different colored paint, both male and female." [The Oregon-California Trails Association located "Norton Jacob 47" among 1,300 names. Norton Jacob was a member of the pioneer company].
Albert P. Rockwood described it as being shaped like an "oblong loaf of bread." William Clayton observed: "It is more difficult descending from the rock than to ascend it on account of its being hard and slippery and nothing to hang on, and a visitor has to be careful or he will arrive on the ground with bruised limbs."
At 3 p.m., it was time to resume the journey. William Clayton put up a guide board that read: "To Fort John 175 3/4 miles. Pioneers, July 21st, 1847, W.R." [The "W.R." was Willard Richard's brand]. After they traveled one mile beyond Independence Rock, they crossed the Sweetwater without difficulty. They continued on and in four and a half miles were across from Devil's Gate which was a little west of the road. Erastus Snow described Devil's Gate as "an aperture in the mountains or chasm through which the river forces itself: It is about one hundred feet wide with perpendicular rocks on either side." The road passed between two high ridges of granite rocks. After crossing a difficult muddy creek, they found the next encampment by the river [present-day Sun Ranch.]
Howard Egan recorded: "I went to view the Devil's Gate, and while ascending the rocks, I fell in with some brethren, and we went up in company. Where we arrived at the top of the east rock we found it perpendicular. The river runs between two high rocky ridges, which were measured by Brother Pratt and found to be 399 feet 6 1/2 inches high and about 200 yards long. . . . It has truly a romantic appearance, and the view over the surrounding country appear spotted with snow." Erastus Snow added, "I followed a foot path on the brink of the river, about half a mile until I was directly under the highest point of rocks where the river, roaring furiously among the huge rocks, filled its narrow channel, and compelled me to retreat by the way I came." William Clayton observed: "The river has a channel of about three rods in width through this pass which increases its swiftness and, dashing furiously against the huge fragments of rock which have fallen from the mountain, makes a roar which can be heard plainly in the camp. One of the brethren fired off his rifle at the foot of the rock and the report resembled much like that of a cannon. Others tumbled fragments of rocks from a projection at the entrance about 150 feet high, which made a very loud rumbling sound caused by the echoes."
The Mormon Ferry, Nebraska:
The men decided to move the location of the ferry downriver. They loaded their things into the ferry boat and a leather skiff and started floating down the North Platte River. Luke Johnson and Edmond Ellsworth remained behind with two wagons. The ferry became stuck on two sand bars, but they freed it without difficulty. First, they approached some men working at the lower ferry location to see if they minded working side-by-side with the Mormon company, but they preferred to work alone. So the brethren continued to float downriver. After two miles, they landed on the south side in a grove of cottonwoods, close to the road which looked like a good location for the new ferry site. They unanimously agreed that this spot should be used. James Davenport set up his blacksmith shop and Eric Glines drove the cattle to the new location. They set up boards to break the wind and made their beds on the ground.
On the Platte River, Nebraska:
The huge pioneer company did not move out. They were waiting for Charles C. Rich to arrive with the artillery. Jesse W. Crosby wrote: "While in camp on the Platte our organization was completed; we keep up a guard by night and by day; our cattle are herded in campacts; the cattle of each 50 by themselves. We are numbered, me and boys from 12 years and upwards. The whole body being organized into hundreds, fifties, and tens." The George Wallace fifty mourned the death of Jacob Weatherby.
Elkhorn River, Nebraska:
At sunrise, Charles C. Rich had the cannon fired, put the raft on the Winter Quarters side of the river, and moved his company toward the west at 9 a.m. The reached the Platte River camp by 4 p.m. There, final preparations were being made in all the company for the long trek to the west. Drivers were obtained to help Brother Rich with the cannon, the skiff mounted on wheels, and the Nauvoo Bell. The Charles C. Rich company consisted of 126 people. The captains of tens were: Ebenezer G. Cherry, James S. Holman, and Edward Stevenson.
[Included in the first ten led by Ebenezer G. Cherry were: Aaron Benjamin Cherry, Aaron Benjamin Cherry, Amelia Mariah Cherry, Caroline S. Cherry, Ebenezer Griffin Cherry, Ebenezer Griffin Cherry Jr., Edward Rittenhouse Cherry, John James Cherry, Lesa Y. Cherry, Margaret Mary Yelton Cherry, Mary Margarett Cherry, Mary Rebecca Cherry, Nancy Ann Cherry, Rebecca Ann Cherry, Sarah Jane Cherry, Susannah Evertson Cherry, Thomas Rittenhouse Cherry, Harvey Clark, Nancy Minerva Earl, Christopher Jacobs, Mary Jane Judson, Timothy Judson, Thomas Mibs, John President Porter, Joseph Rich Porter, Nancy Rich Porter, Sanford Colton Porter, Charles Coulson Rich, Charles Coulson Rich, Eliza Ann Graves Rich, Emaline Grover Rich, Harriet Sargent Rich, Hyrum S. Rich, John Thomas Rich, Joseph Rich, Joseph Coulson Rich, Mary Ann Phelps Rich, Mary Bratten Rich, Nancy O'Neal Rich, Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich, Sarah Jan Rich, Sarah Jane Peck Rich, Alexander Morain Shoemaker, Ezra Shoemaker, Jeptha Shoemaker, Jerusha Shoemaker, Jessenell Shoemaker, Lucinda J. Shoemaker, Margaret Taylor Shoemaker, Marion Shoemaker, Nancy Golden Shoemaker, Sarah Shoemaker, Theo. Shoemaker, and James R. Young].
[Included in the second ten led by James S. Holman were: Aaron Emeline Rebecca Adair, George Washington Adair, Joseph Adair, Lucinda Jane Adair, Miriam Billingsley Adair, Rebecca Mangum Adair, Aaron H. Conover, Adelia Belinda Cox, Almer Bingley Cox, Elvira Pamela Mills Cox, Orville Southerland Cox, Orlando Herrin, James Sawyer Holman, Amy R. Jackman, Eliza Jane Mangum, James Mitchel Mangum, Matthew Mansfield, Morgan A. Mansfield, Charles Edward Robison, Clarissa Minerva Duzette Robison, Lewis Seth Robison, Solon W. Robison, Lucinda Wilson, Catherine Wingate, Cyrus Wingate, Zenos Wingate, Alphonzo Winget, Malvina Winget, and Cornelius Workman.
[Included in the third ten led by Edward Stevenson were: Hannah E. McCullouch Baird, John Baird, Adaline B. Benson, Samuel G. Benson, Amos C. Dewel, Eliza A. Dewell, Mary Dewell, Mercy Ann Dewell, Minerva Dewell, Osman M. Dewell, William H. Dewell, James Dickens, Adaline Grover, Caroline Grover, Eliza Ann Grover, Hannah Grover, Hannah Tupper Grover, Lodoska Grover, Mary Elizabeth Grover, Thomas Grover, Thomas Grover Jr., Mary E. Hoffheins, Vienna Jacques, Abiah Johnson, Ira S. Miles, Mary Kilburn Bent Miles, Charles R. Oakey, Edward Oakey, Heber B. Oakey, John Oakey, Elizabeth Melissa Perry, Grace Ann Williams Perry, John Perry, Lyman Wight Porter, Nancy Arrita Porter, Nathan Tanner Porter, Sanford Porter, Jane Sherwood, Joseph Sidwell, Edward Stevenson, Nancy Areta Porter Stevenson, Nephi Porter Stevenson, Albert Leonard Stoddard, and Arvin M. Stoddard.]
Kearny detachment of battalion in Sierra Nevadas, California:
The detachment arrived at the headwaters of the Truckee River and found a small lake (Donner Lake) three miles long. They camped near the west end of the lake.
Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:
Colonel Jonathan Stevenson and Lieutenant Stoneman arrived from Los Angeles. Robert S. Bliss visited the merchant ship, "Barnstable" and bought things for his journey home.
Elder Lyman O. Littlefield preached to a full house of interested listeners. He, along with Brothers Fox, Heath, and Wilcox, attended a conference of William M'Lellin's followers, held at the Kirtland Temple. Elder Littlefield recorded: "I counted seventeen of his followers, all apostates from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The speakers indulged in a tirade of abuse against the authorities of the Church."
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.
- Howard Egan Diary, Pioneering the West, 80-82
- Arrington, Charles C. Rich, 114
- Journal of Albert P. Rockwood, typescript, BYU, 56-7
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:211-13
- Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 15:168
- Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 36-7
- The History and Journal of Jesse W. Crosby, typescript, BYU
- Cook, Joseph C. Kingsbury, 117
- William Clayton's Journal, 250-56
- Lyman Littlefield Reminiscences (1888), p.193
- Private Journal of Thomas Dunn, typescript, 26
- The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:96
- Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 198-99