Sunday August 6 - Saturday, August 12, 1848
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.'"
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."
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
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
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.
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
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.
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