Sunday August 6 - Saturday, August 12, 1848

Great Salt Lake City, Utah:

On Tuesday, the leaders in the Valley wrote a letter to Brigham Young. It included: "There are 450 buildings in the Fort, besides quite a number of temporary farm buildings, three saw mills in operation, and one partly finished, one temporary grist mill, and an excellent one nearly finished by Brother Neff. Brother Leffingwell put up a threshing machine and fanning mill on City Creek, propelled by water; it will thresh and clean in good order two hundred bushels per day. Our population is not far from 1,800, enjoying excellent health. . . . Our wheat harvest is over, the grain is splendid and clean, but being mostly in shock and stack, we cannot state the number of bushels; however, we are all agreed that the wheat crop has done wonderfully well, considering all the circumstances, and that we can raise more and better wheat to the acre in this valley than in any place any of us ever saw; and the same with all other grains, vegetables, etc., that we have tried."

On Thursday a harvest celebration feast was held under a bowery in the center of the fort. This was the first "Thanksgiving" celebrated by the Saints in the Valley. Every family in the city was invited. A liberty pole was raised with a white flag and a cannon fired. Elders Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor addressed the large gathering. Elder Taylor offered a prayer of Thanksgiving. One of the Saints recorded: "A splendid dinner was spread under the bowery prepared for the occasion and several hundred sat down to rich repast to which all contributed."

Parley P. Pratt wrote: "We partook freely of a rich variety of bread, beef, butter, cheese, cakes, pastry, green corn, melons, and almost every variety of vegetable. Large sheaves of wheat, rye, barley, oats and other productions were hoisted on poles for public exhibition, and there was prayer and thanksgiving, congratulations, songs, speeches, music, dancing, smiling faces and merry hearts. In short, it was a great day with the people of these valleys, and long to be remembered by those who had suffered and waited anxiously for the results of a first effort to redeem the interior deserts of America, and to make her hitherto unknown solitudes 'blossom as the rose.'"

Near the Mormon Ferry, Wyoming:

Part of the 1848 pioneer camp traveled on the Sabbath but ran into difficulty. The road was poor and wagons started to break down. Brother Major's child fell out of a wagon and his leg was run over, but not broken. The feed they found was poor. Thomas Bullock commented: "So much for traveling on the Sabbath day, to which I am opposed."

On Monday wagons were crossed over the Platte River by fording the river and doubling the teams. After traveling a mile on the north side, they observed a forest fire on a mountain across the river. Brother Bullock wrote: "The Pineries on the South side of the River [and] on the Mountains burning very fiercely, forming a dense White & Black Cloud, interspersed with livid glare, refracted from the fire. It was set on fire [in] part by the Indians & [in] part by our brethren who had been killing Game on the Mountain. This accounts for the hazy atmosphere of the past week." The following day, it could still be seen. The fire has travelled to this side of the Mountain, the flame & livid glare contrast greatly with the dull heavy smoke; a fine sight in the night."

During the week many of the cattle would drink very poor water in poison springs and several were lost. Others became sick but later recovered.

On Friday they reached Independence Rock. Many of the pioneers climbed the massive rock. Isaac Morley and Thomas Bullock gathered gooseberries that were growing near the top. On Saturday they continued their journey along the Sweetwater and passed around Devil's Gate, where the river flows through cliffs about 400 feet high. Hosea Stout recorded: "The Sweet Water Valley is now a most beautiful looking meadow and excellent grazing place and camps are now to be seen all along as we travel."

Twelve-year-old Rachel Simmons later recalled: "We heard so much of Independence Rock long before we got there. They said we should have a dance on top of it, as we had many a dance while on the plains. We thought it would be so nice, but when we got there, the company was so small it was given up. We nooned at this place, but Father stayed long enough for us children to go all over it. I went with the boys and with Catherine. It is an immense rock with holes and crevices where the water is dripping cool and sparkling. We saw a great many names of persons that had been cut in the rock, but we were so disappointed in not having a dance. Our company was so small, and we had not a note of music or a musician."

Young Rachel feared the wolves that came around during the night: "The wolves were as thick as sheep. It seemed as though they had gathered for miles around. There wasn't a wink of sleep that night for any of us. I was staying with Aunt Catherine that night for company as Uncle Sammy was out on guard with the rest of the men to keep the wolves from attacking the animals or stampeding them. They were so bold they would come right into camp and some of them would put their feet on the wagon tongues and sniff in at the end of the wagon."

Willard Richards company on the Platte River, Nebraska:

About three hundred miles to the east, the Willard Richards company met 2,000 Sioux Indians. Elder Richards made a short speech to them and they traded meal and clothing for buffalo robes and buckskins. It was a very peaceful meeting.

Lake Erie:

Wilford Woodruff and his family continued their journey on a steamer toward Buffalo, New York. Their young son, Wilford became very ill, but received a blessing and started to recover. They arrived at Buffalo on Monday, boarded a boat, and traveled up the Erie Canal. They arrived in Albany, New York on Friday. Next, they boarded a train for Boston and arrived there in eleven hours. They found a room at the Western Exchange Hotel. Elder Woodruff walked over to Cambridge and found Elders Nathaniel H. Felt and Lewis Robins. Elder Woodruff wrote: "I was truly glad to meet with them all, & to get to the end of my journey which had been a long & tedious one with my family of 2,595 miles journey from Council Bluff to Boston by land & waggons, rivers, lakes, canals, rail roads, etc."


 Parley Pratt Autobiography(1985), p.335 Ronald Esplin, "Utah's 1st Thanksgiving," Ensign, Oct 1982 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.254 Smart, Mormon Midwife, 117 Rachel Simmons, Journal in Heart Throbs 11:161 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:322 Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 113 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:361-62 
Sunday August 13 - Saturday, August 19, 1848

On the Weber River, Utah

Eliza R. Snow was camping in the mountains with several families. On Monday, they were greeted by brothers Edmund Ellsworth and Levi Hancock who had been sent as messengers from the valley to meet the 1848 pioneer company. They had found the pioneers on the Platte River. These returning brethren stayed with Sister Snow's group for a couple days. On Wednesday they started to head back to the Salt Lake Valley and arrived home on Friday.

On the Sweetwater River, Wyoming:

On Sunday, the large 1848 pioneer company was scattered in camps along the Sweetwater River, not far from the location where the Martin Hancart company would suffer so much, eight years later. Some of the companies had been camped there for three or four days because conditions were so pleasant. Brigham Young held a meeting and ordered these companies to prepare to vacate the camps and move on. They moved out on Monday. During the week the pioneers crossed the Sweetwater several times. Many cattle died as they traveled. Thomas Bullock wrote: "It appears that the way to the Valley of Life for the Saints, is thro' the Valley of Death to our Cattle, & it appears as if we are to get to our journey's end by a miracle, or very narrowly indeed." Traveling during the week was very tiring up high hills and through heavy sand. Brother Bullock recorded: "We continued our journey, ascending a very very long hill & then over a level plain, which was an uncommon wearisome journey to us. The Cattle were very tired, & hungry [and] we were almost worn out, having to walk nearly the whole distance. . . . [We] crossed the Sweetwater again & were glad to halt in the night in a place of safety after the most tiresome journey, & [I was] the most fatigued [that I had been] on the entire route." On Thursday, the pioneers rejoiced when they were met by an express from the Valley with news that a large number of teams and wagons were on the way to assist the pioneers. Because of the loss of many cattle, some families had to be left behind, camped on the Sweetwater. Louisa Pratt wrote on Saturday: "Still traveling through canyons, deep mudholes, willow brush, big rocks, steep hills, objects that seem almost unsurmountable, still nothing impedes our progress! Slowly we move along, gaining a little every day. We find an opening every night for camping, clean and pleasant. Frances, our second daughter, makes her fire the first of anyone in the morning. It is her greatest pride to have people come to her to borrow fire and praise her for being the lark of the company." The pioneer company ended the week camped near Rocky Ridge, near the location where the Willie Handcart Company would be rescued eight years later. They were still about 260 miles from the Valley.

Willard Richards at Fort Laramie, Wyoming:

The Willard Richards company reached Fort Laramie. They were about 250 miles behind the main companies.

Along the Truckee River, Nevada

The returning group of Mormon Battalion veterans continued their journey toward the Salt Lake Valley. On Tuesday they met sixteen wagons headed for California. Included was Hazen Kimball and his family. Hazen Kimball had arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 but become disaffected from the Church and was moving to California. He reported that 8,000 acres of grain had been sowed in the valley. The little company learned from the soldiers about the discovery of gold in California. An old man jumped up and said: "Glory Hallelujah, thank God, I shall die a rich man yet!" As the company of men continued on along the Humboldt River, Indians would hid behind willows and shoot horses with poisoned arrows. Several horses died.

Boston, Massachusetts:

Wilford Woodruff met with the eastern Saints. On Sunday a meeting was held at which Elder Woodruff and other elders spoke. "All spoke in the Spirit of the Lord and was edified." Elder Woodruff met Elder Joseph Russell of a branch of the Church in New Brunswick, Canada. He found him to be a "good spirited man."

Manchester, England:

A large general conference of the Church for Great Britain was held in the music hall in Manchester. Elder Orson Pratt presided. There were 137 priesthood holders in attendance. Membership records indicated that there were 17,902 members in 350 branches in Great Britain. There were about 8,500 more members than reported on May 31, 1846. The Church was growing rapidly in Great Britain.


 Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 225 Hugh Moon, autobiography, typescript, BYU, Pg. 6 Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 113-14 Louisa Pratt, auto in Heart Throbs 8:246 Bagley, 1848 Trail Journal of Thomas Bullock Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:323 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:362 Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West, 214-25 
Sunday August 20 - Saturday, August 26, 1848

Near Rocky Ridge, Wyoming:

On Sunday the camp rested. Many of the brethren when out hunting. On Monday the companies of pioneers continue crossing back and forth across the Sweetwater. Thomas Bullock wrote about their journey up Rocky Ridge. "[We] leave the river and ascend a long steep hill, then descend & pass over 3 sets of rough ragged rocks which required very great care to preserve the wagons from accident. We got over in safety, but Snow's Company broke a Wagon Wheel off."

Twelve-year-old Rachel Simmons recalled: "The next I remember was crossing what was called Rocky Ridge. . . . I was driving as usual, and to make matters worse we had an old pig that was in trouble that day and she had to ride in the buggy, as Father was very anxious to save the little pigs, but they all died in consequence of the rough road. I remember I was so glad when we camped that night, because I was so completely tired out with the road and the frisky horse."

On Wednesday, they camped near South Pass and had views for the first time of the country across the continental divide. On Thursday morning, the pioneers found their water buckets frozen with almost an ince of ice. Camp leaders met with Bringham Young. Doctor Sprague reported that there were fifteen cases of the mysterious mountain fever in the camp, but they were recovering well. Ira E. West had been thrown from his horse and had brokem his arm. Letters from the valley had arrived and were read to the Saints.

Thomas Bullock wrote about his camp near South Pass: "[I] drove my Wagons near a lot of fine willows, near the river, the prettiest Camping [spot] we have ever had on this journey. President Young, Squire Wells & many of the brethren come & visit me in "Bullock's Settlement." [We] sit, chat, sing & enjoy ourselves through the evening."

The camp halted on Friday as news arrived that Heber C. Kimball's company was having difficulty and was traveling slowly. They had lost many oxen. Wagons were sent back to help them catch up. As Brigham Young's company rested, about ten head of cattle died each day as a result of the difficult journey. Thomas Bullock wrote a letter to Levi Richards, who was traveling many miles behind in the Willard Richards company. "Remember me kindly to all the Elders who left Winter Quarters about the same time as you did; I pray that their health, as well as yours, may be good; that you may all be blessed with His Spirit from on high, be prospered on your missions, and return to Zion with songs of everlasting joy." He reported the news that Sister Patty Sessions had delivered 248 children so far in the Salt Lake Valley. There had even been eight births in one week.

Along the Humboldt River, Nevada

The company of returning Mormon Battalion soldiers continued their journey from California to the Salt Lake Valley. They traveled along the Humboldt River. On Saturday they met a group of emigrants traveling to California. Traveling with this group was Brother Livi Riter, who was going to claim some of his goods that had been shipped to California on the "Brooklyn." [When he arrived, he would discover that Samuel Brannan had taken his goods as his own. With difficulty, he was able to claim a few of them back.] Brother Riter reported that grain, corn, and garden plants were doing well in the Salt Lake Valley.

Boston, Massachusetts:

The Saints were addressed on Sunday by Albert P. Rockwood, Jesse C. Little, and Elder Wilford Woodruff. A large crowd gathered including some outspoken apostates. On Saturday Elder Woodruff read in a newspaper a report about the condition of the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley during the month of May. It reported that they were suffering and in need of bread. Crickets were eating up all the wheat. Elder Woodruff was concerned about the news, but was not certain that it was true.


 Bagley, 1848 Trail Journal of Thomas Bullock Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.254 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:363-64 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:323-24 Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West, 217 Bagley, A Road From El Dorado, 31 Rachel Simmons, Journal in Heart Throbs 11:163 
Sunday August 27 - Saturday, September 2, 1848

Great Salt Lake City, Utah

On Tuesday, the first wagon of the season arrived from Winter Quarters. It was driven by Seth Dodge, who had been sent on ahead. Some others arrived throughout the week. The Saints in the valley were very excited to learn that hundreds of Saints would soon be arriving. On Friday snow fell on the tops of mountains.

Near South Pass, Wyoming:

The large pioneer company led by Brigham Young rested in various camps near South Pass and along the upper portion of the Sweetwater River. Arrangements were made to send a company back to Winter Quarters with wagons, oxen and letters, led by Allen Taylor. It was intended that this company of men and boys would help next year's pioneer company travel to the valley.

Brigham Young decided to journey back several miles to visit Heber C. Kimball's company. This company had fallen behind because of the loss of many cattle. He traveled in his carriage with others, passing numerous camps and seeing many stray cattle. They rode down Rocky Ridge and soon arrived in Heber C. Kimball's camp. Heber C. Kimball's wife, Sarah Ann, had recently given birth to a boy. On Sunday evening, the brethren met together to make plans for next season's pioneer trek, and to figure out how to help the camp continue forward toward the valley.

On Monday, Brigham Young dictated a letter to be sent forward to South Pass instructing his company to send back wagons and oxen to aid Heber C. Kimball's company and to be sent to Winter Quarters. Soon, certainly as an answer to prayer, Lorenzo Young and Abraham O. Smoot arrived from the Salt Lake Valley. They reported that in just two days, 50 wagons and 150 yoke of oxen would arrive at South Pass. These teams had been sent from the valley to aid the pioneers who desperately need help.

On Tuesday the Allen Taylor company was organized to return to Winter Quarters. Brother Taylor would lead 48 men and boys, 59 wagons, 121 yoke of cattle, and 44 mules and horses back to Winter Quarters. Plans were drawn up to meet next season's pioneers half-way, at Fort Laramie, with teams to take them the rest of the way to the valley. On Wednesday Brigham Young returned to his camp. When he arrived, he had to retire to bed because he was quite ill. The smell from all the dead cattle had become overpowering. Men worked during the day to bury the dead animals.

On Friday the pioneer company was again on the move and journeyed on to Pacific Springs. Hosea Stout wrote: "Just about the time we had fairly ascended to the summit we were met by a violent wind & snow storm soon turning into a still rain as it grew dark. We just had time to see the first ravine which conveyed the waters to the west before dark set in so that we had to descend to the Pacific Springs after dark, traveling in a mild rain. We turned our cattle out in the dark not knowing where the range was. We had a disagreeable time of it for the wind arose from the North and blew cold all night."

After a rainy night and miserable morning, the sun came out. Thomas Bullock commented on a rainbow. "A beautiful rainbow seen, very near the Earth & spans only over 10 waggons & apparently three times the height of the wagons, the lowest I ever saw & very beautiful." The rain continued on and off, making travel difficult and it caused many of the cattle to stray and wander.

Along the Humboldt River, Nevada

The returning Mormon Battalion soldiers continued their journey toward the valley. At Gravelly Ford, near present-day Beowawe, Nevada, they met an emigrant company traveling toward California. The emigrants became very excited when they heard details about the discovery of gold.

Boston, Massachusetts:

Elder Wilford Woodruff addressed a gathering of Saints at the home of Samuel B. Hardy of East Bradford. During the week he visited with the Saints and met with some who were struggling in the faith.


 Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p.255 Bagley, 1848 Trail Journal of Thomas Bullock Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 121 Smart, Mormon Midwife, 118 Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:324 Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:364 Bagley, A Road From El Dorado, 32