05/22/1847 - Crockett
Date: May 22, 1847
On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
The morning were getting warmer. At 5 a.m. the temperature was forty-eight degrees. There were a few thin clouds in the sky and a light breeze. Some of the men partially buried the mammoth bone and put an inscription about it, written on a board for the next company. It read, "Mammoth Bone Encampment 21 & 22 May 1847 Pioneers" and on the back, "All well, Sioux Indians seen here."
A large dog came near the camp and followed the pioneers during their travels. He appeared to be wild and appeared to be part wolf. They left meat out for him.
After five and a half miles they crossed a stream about twenty feet wide which they named Crab Creek, and soon they halted for the noon rest. Porter Rockwell came into camp and reported that he had seen Chimney Rock in the distance from a high bluff. Orson Pratt wrote: "With our glasses, Chimney Rock can now be seen at a distance of 42 miles up the river. At this distance it appears like a short tower placed upon an elevated mound or hill."
William Clayton recorded: "In order to satisfy myself, although my feet were blistered and very sore, I determined to take my telescope and go on the bluff to ascertain for myself whether the noted rock could be seen or not. At half past twelve I started out alone. . . . I found the ascent very steep and lengthy in comparison to its appearance from camp. When I arrived on the top I found a nice slightly arched surface of about a quarter of an acre in extent, but barren and very little grass on it. Huge comparatively smooth rocks peeped through the surface on one of which I wrote with red chalk: 'Wm. Clayton, May 22, 1847.' On the highest point I sat down and took a view of the surrounding country which is magnificent indeed. On the south at the distance of two miles from the river, there is a range of cedar trees on the bluffs which very much resemble some of the parks and seats of gentry in England. East I could see where we camped last night, the high grass still burning. . . . West . . . I should judge of about twenty miles, I could see Chimney Rock very plainly with the naked eye, which from here very much resembles the large factory chimneys in England, although I could not see the form of its base. The rock lay about due west from here. After gratifying my curiosity, and seeing the men collecting their teams for a march, I descended on the west side of the bluff."
During the afternoon, their road took them up over some bluffs and back down to the prairie bottoms. They crossed over several dry stream bead. Many petrified bones were noticed as they traveled. After traveling a total of fifteen and a half miles, the next camp was established about 150 yards from the river. Orson Pratt described: The wind and rains have worked the bluffs at this place into many curious forms, some of which resemble cones or pyramids, others exhibiting perpendicular and shelving sides. . . . I ascended several of these curiously shaped bluffs. Now and then a straggling cedar crowned their tops, standing solitary and alone. . . . On the top of one of these bluffs, in the branches of a small cedar, a bald eagle's nest was discovered, having one lyoung in it." George R. Grant and Orson K. Whitney carried it back to camp and planned to raise it. William Clayton described: "Although it is very young and its feathers have scarcely commenced growing, it measures from the tips of its wings when stretched, forty-six inches. Its head is nearly the size of my fist and looks very ferocious." The nest was sad to be three feet in diameter. The mouth of a cavern was also discovered in one of the bluffs. The men did not have torches so they only went into it for a few feet.
Willard Richards named the bluffs "Ancient Ruins Bluffs" because they appeared to be the ruins of an ancient city. Heber C. Kimball recorded: "The whole scenery around is one of romantic beauty which cannot be fully described with pen or tongue."
Wilford Woodruff wrote: "A spring of Cold water was found in the top of one of these peaks apparently in a small basin of stone. There are considerable number of rattle snakes come out of these bluffs. I saw near a dozen to day." Several of the men killed some rattlesnakes and started to collect rattles.
A thunder storm passed by. Lorenzo Young wrote "It thundered and lightninged for 2 hours and then blew hard, and it looked dismall but to our surprise and joy the clouds seemed to part and the rain and wind went on both side of us and did not disturb us."
William Clayton described some evening activities in the camp of the pioneers. "The evening was spent very joyfully by most of the brethren . . . A number danced till the bugle sounded for bed time at nine o'clock. A mock trial was also prosecuted in the case of the camp vs. James Davenport for blockading the highway and turning ladies out of their course. Jackson Redding acted as the presiding judge. Elder [Edson] Whipple attorney for defendant and Luke Johnson attorney for the people. We have many such trials in the camp which are amusing enough and tend among other things to pass away the time cheerfully during leisure moments. It was remarked this evening that we have one man in camp who is entitled to the credit of being more even tempered than any of the others, and that is Father [Solomon] Chamberlain. He is invariably cross and quarrelsome, but the brethren all take it as a joke and he makes considerable amusement for the camp."
Summer Quarters, Nebraska:
John D. Lee and about twenty others worked hard during the morning planting corn, beans, peas, melons, and squash. In the afternoon, Brother Lee and others traveled to Winter Quarters. He spent the night at John Berry's home.
Kearny Mormon Battalion detachment, California:
The detachment arrived at the Mission of San Miguel.
Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:
A ship was seen coming into the harbor. Robert S. Bliss wrote: "The winds are almost constantly from the North West which makes it cool & healthy, much cooler here than in Illinois at this time of Year."
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., The Orson Pratt Journals, 402-04
- Howard Egan's Diary, Pioneering the West, 46-7
- Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 21
- Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young, Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:159
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:180-81
- Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 162-63
- William Clayton's Journal, 169-76
- Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-1847 and 1859, 170
- The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:17
- The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:93