Sunday December 5 ‑ Saturday, December 11, 1847

Great Salt Lake City, Utah:

The High Council met with a Captain Grant from Fort Hall.  [Fort Hall was located near present‑day Pocatello, Idaho, on the Oregon Trail.] They discussed with Captain Grant the possibility of doing trade with the Hudson Bay Company.  A letter was written by the council for Captain Grant to take back to the management of the company.

On Tuesday it was stormy, and the weather was snowy and cold the rest of the week in the valley.


Hyde Park, Iowa:

On Sunday, a historic meeting was held at Orson Hyde's farm.  After a wonderful feast, the members of the Quorum of the Twelve met together.  Brigham Young expressed his feelings on the organization of the Church and whether a First Presidency should be organized.  All the Quorum members present expressed their feelings on the subject from oldest to youngest.

Wilford Woodruff wrote:  “Orson Hyde moved that Brigham Young be the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints & that he nominate his two counselors & they form the three first Presidency.  Seconded by W. Woodruff & carried unanimously.”

President Young nominated Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards to be his counselors.  After the meeting the went into Elder Hyde's house and feasted on pie.

On Monday, the Twelve met again to discuss spiritual subjects and to conduct some business.  They discussed posterity in this world and offspring in the world to come.  Brigham Young taught that offspring of immortal beings were spiritual bodies.  As for the business, John Smith (Joseph Smith's uncle) was appointed formally as the patriarch over the whole Church.  They discussed building the temple in Great Salt Lake City.  The Twelve discussed the right to publish Church periodicals.  The Twelve was granted liberty to publish papers in any part of the world where they served.  As the Twelve would go among the nations, they should ordain elders among the new members to assist them in their preaching.  In this way, the Twelve could spread out in different fields of labor.  Orson Hyde and Ezra T. Benson were appointed to go to the East to raise funds.  Amasa Lyman was appointed to go to the southern states to raise help.  Luke S. Johnson (former apostle) was approved to be ordained an elder.

Work started on the new tabernacle in Miller's settlement.  On Tuesday the Twelve returned to Winter Quarters.  They rode through a cold hail storm to the ferry.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

On Thursday, John D. Lee was tried before the Council.  Over the months at Summer Quarters, there had been much division and problems among Brother Lee's adoptive family.  They also experienced periods of terrible sickness and death.  Brother Lee was brought to trial on charges of improper conduct with his family.  Brigham Young reproved him for trying to cover up his faults and justify his errors.  President Young granted that any of Brother Lee's wives and adopted children could be free of him.  Two wives were granted divorces and several adopted sons accepted their freedom immediately.

Another case was formally held.  W.W.  Phelps was again cut off from the Church.  This time the reason was because he had married three wives without authorization during his recent mission to the east.

On Saturday, Philemon C. Merrill, William Pace, and fourteen other members of the Mormon Battalion arrived at Winter Quarters.  They had left Great Salt Lake City on October 18.

Mary Richards wrote:  “The weather cold.  Jane [Richards] washing again today.  I helped her again about the work & went see Olive.  Attended a meeting at Bro [Jonathan C. Wright's home] where Brother [Ezra T.] Benson preached us a good sermon, advising the Saints to be faithful in observing the Sacred Covenants and gave us much good instruction.  Uncle Levi [Richards] spoke in an interesting manner for a short time.  After which the meeting was dismissed.  This evening Jane was taken very sick with the face ache.”



Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.98; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:294‑96; Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1847‑1850, 79‑80; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:290; Ward, Winter Quarters, 183; William Pace Autobiography


                                                                  Sunday December 12 ‑ Saturday, December 18, 1847

Great Salt Lake City, Utah:

On Tuesday, a young Indian girl came to live with members of Brigham Young's family.  John R. Young recalled how this came to be.  There was a disturbance at an Indian camp nearby.  “It was Wanship's band.  Some of his braves had just returned from the war path.  In a fight with Little Wolf's band, they lost two men, but had succeeded in taking two girl prisoners.  One of these they had killed and were torturing the other.  To save her life, Charley Decker bought her and took her to our house to be washed and clothed.  She was the saddest looking piece of humanity I have ever seen.  They had shingled her head with butcher knives and fire brands.  All the fleshy parts of her body, legs, and arms had been hacked with knives then firebrands had been stuck into the wounds.  She was gaunt with hunger and smeared from head to foot with blood and ashes.”  She was cleaned up and clothed, then taken into Lorenzo Dow Young family.[1]

On Wednesday, thirteen‑year‑old Mary Eveline Stewart, daughter of George and Ruthinda Stewart, died.  She was the first in the valley to die because of sickness.[2]

Also on Wednesday, Jesse W. Crosby wrote:  “Weather cold.  Many men complaining of frost bitten feet, though the weather thus far has changed after cold a few days, pleasant again.”  Robert S. Bliss observed that the ground was frozen 6‑8 inches deep.  On Saturday he crossed the Jordan River and other streams frozen solid.

On Saturday, the High Council met together.  It was decided that all the hay should be moved out of the fort during the coming week, probably because of fire safety.  Elder John Taylor was granted a site for a tanning works near Brother Gardner's sawmill, near the warm spring.  The Council looking into the matter of Albert Carrington's dead cow.  It had been found by the hay stacks and it was evident that it had been purposely killed.  The men who found the cow testified that they did not know how it died.  After remarks by the brethren, President John Smith “sealed a curse upon the person or persons who killed Carrington's cow, until they came forward and made restitution.”  The curse was sanctioned unanimously by the Council.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

On Thursday the Twelve met together and discussed the difference between tithing and taxes.  Wilford Woodruff wrote:  “President Young remarked that there was a great difference between the tithing & taxes, for tithing was a standing law of God for one tenth was required of every man & woman who was the head of the family & that would probably be the law of the Church until the coming of Christ.  But taxes was levied according to circumstances.”

On Friday, another group of about 20‑25 arrived from the valley.  They were mostly Mormon Battalion soldiers, but also included was the family of Joseph Thorn.  He had become dissatisfied with the valley and left on October 6, 1847.  The brethren delivered 144 letters from the valley.  Included was an epistle from the High Council at Great Salt Lake City.

On Saturday, the Twelve met with Elder Lorenzo Snow, who was the presiding Church authority over the Mount Pisgah, Iowa settlement.  He had come in from Mount Pisgah for counsel.



News was spreading among the thousands of Saints across the ocean that the pioneers had arrived at the valley.  For months it had been rumored that the Mormon pioneers had met disaster and were eating each other in the mountains.[3]  But the Saints in England, Wales, and other parts were rejoicing in hearing the news of their safe arrival to the Salt Lake Valley.

The Church publication in Wales, Prophet of the Jubilee commented: 


This is very sweet news to the children of Zion throughout the world, and to the Welsh also.  We give thanks to their sustainer for his great tenderness toward them. . . . Neither let the Welsh think that they have arrived beyond the need for assistance. . . . Consider how advantageous and lovely it will be to arrive in a country where everything necessary is available, different from going as they did to a place where there is nothing of the kind except what they themselves established.  Let this cause us to be sympathetic with them, until we will all 'long pull a strong pull, and a pull altogether,' now, for their sakes.



Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.99; Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 214, 294; History and Journal of Jesse W. Crosby, BYU, 46; The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:127; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:297; Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1847‑1850, 80; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:290; Dennis, Prophet of the Jubilee, 190


                                                                  Sunday December 19 ‑ Saturday, December 25, 1847

Great Salt Lake City, Utah:

On the dawn of the first Christmas in the Salt Lake Valley, guns were fired to bring in this special day.  Six guns were fired:  One to the east, one to the north, one to the west, and three to the south.  James Smithies recorded:  “And they shaked the earth and broke several squares of glass in the windows.  This afternoon we cast in our mites and had a good supper and we had a time of rejoicing afterwards.”

Eliza R. Snow attended a party at Lorenzo Young's new home.  “After a splendid dinner at which we freely & sociably partook of the good things of the earth, father John Smith blessed the babe [Lorenzo] of Sister [Clara] Young.  I served as scribe.  Brother [Jedediah M.] Grant prayed and dedicated the house to the Lord.”  Lorenzo Young added in his journal that the day was spent in singing.  Thoughts were on loved‑ones and leaders back in Winter Quarters.

Former battalion member, Robert S. Bliss, was among the Saints who wondered how his family was on this Christmas Day, back in Winter Quarters.  He recorded:  “The snow is now nearly gone & the weather fine.  Today we were waked by the firing of cannon & the day was spent in work by some & amusement by others & at night dances & plays by the young people; I visited one of my old neighbors who was driven out of Illinois with me & partook of a fine Christmas Dinner; but my joys are damped by the consideration of my family; They are more than a thousand miles from me & no possible chance to go to them till Spring; their trials, privation, and afflictions is unknown to me & were they known I could not relieve them; but the same being who has preserved me in all my travels I trust will be their support in every situation they may be placed in.

A young girl in the valley later recalled:  “I remember our first Christmas in the valley.  We all worked as usual.  The men gathered sagebrush, and some even plowed, for though it had snowed, the ground was still soft, and the plows were used nearly the entire day.”


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

On Tuesday, the council dealt with a case of wife abuse.  Heber C. Kimball spoke out strongly that such iniquity could not be harbored in the Church.  Brigham Young said:  “In the first place, a husband should be a righteous man ‑‑ a man of God and rule his household in righteousness and govern his wife with kindness and love and not with a rod, club, or his fist.  His conduct to his wife should be such that she will love him with all of her heart.  And he should pray to God that his wife and children which are jewels given him might be saved and not taken from him that not any thing need be lost which the father hath given him.”

During the week, the Twelve worked on writing an epistle to Saints.  On Thursday the epistle was prepared for the printing press.  It would be printed the following month in St.  Louis.  The epistle was a call to the Saints who had been scattered and driven from Nauvoo to gather immediately to the east bank of the Missouri River, in Iowa.  Saints in Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and other countries were asked to emigrate as soon as possible to Council Bluffs.  “For the time has come for the Saints to go up to the mountains of the Lord's house, and help to establish it upon the tops of the mountains.”

On Wednesday, police chief Hosea Stout discovered that a number of Saints were planning on attending a nonmember military ball to be held at Trader's Point on Christmas Eve.  He spent that day “putting a stop” to these plans.  Brigham Young said:  “I council the people not to go to the dance tomorrow at the Point that is getting up by the soldiers there.”  He instead encouraged the Saints to hold their own dance.

On Christmas Eve, Hosea Stout and others were sent by the Twelve to Trader's Point “to watch the moves of the officers” and others at the military ball.  Brother Stout wrote: 


We were well received by all who knew us.  Were taken in, had our suppers in the best of style.  It was soon whispered around amongst the whole company who we were and our business was naturally known by some.  All seemed to pay due regard to us.  We were invited to partake in all their dancing & drinking always giving us the opportunity to dance oftener than any one else.  We passed off the night very agreeably.  . . . Before the ladies, the officers were very civil as long as they were sober enough; but in the barroom, they were exceeding vulgar.


Mary Richards wrote on Christmas Day:  “The weather cold, spent Christmas at home.  Was sewing, reading, etc.”


Miller's Hollow, Iowa:

On Friday, December 24, 1847, A historic multi‑day conference was convened in the new log tabernacle across the Missouri River in what would later be known as Kanesville.  The tabernacle was forty by sixty feet, capable of seating hundreds of people.  Orson Pratt opened the meeting by dedicating the building.  Several members of the Twelve addressed the congregation.  Orson Pratt explained that since the death of Joseph Smith, the Lord had wanted the Church to be governed by the Quorum of the Twelve.  However, the Lord had revealed through his Spirit that it was time to again appoint a First Presidency.  This would allow the Quorum of the Twelve to again take the gospel to the nations.

On Saturday, Christmas Day, the conference continued in the new tabernacle.  A new high council was organized for the east side of the river including:  James Allred, William G. Perkins, William Snow, Evan M. Greene, Benjamin F. Bird, Noah S. Bulkley, George Coulson, Andrew H. Perkins, Lyman Stoddard, Henry W. Miller, Herman Hoyde, and Ira Oviatt.  Plans were discussed regarding emigration to the valley in the spring.  The brethren on the east side of the river were asked to assist those on the west side with teams and wagons.

In the evening, the Twelve met in a private session to discuss formally announcing and sustaining the recent reorganization of the First Presidency during this conference.  They discussed whether or not other brethren should be called to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of Twelve caused by this reorganization.  They discussed candidates, but did not move to fill up the quorum.[4]


Carthage, Illinois:

On December 23, on what would have been Joseph Smith's 42nd birthday, his widow, Emma Smith married again to Lewis C. Bidamon.  They were married at the courthouse in Carthage by a methodist minister.  Lewis Bidamon, a widower, was a respected new resident of Nauvoo and friend of the Saints.[5]



Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 215; Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young, Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:164; Bennett, We'll Find The Place, 294‑5, 321‑22, 344; Christensen, Christmas Is For You, pp. 151‑152; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:297‑300; Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1847‑1850, 80‑1; Ward, Winter Quarters, 184; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 291‑92; Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:308‑15; Newell and Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 246‑48


                                                                   Sun. December 26 1847 ‑ Saturday, January 1, 1848

Great Salt Lake City, Utah:

On Sunday, the High Council met together.  Elder Parley P. Pratt spoke for some time about those in the valley who were becoming dissatisfied.  and desired to go to California with Miles Goodyear.  The Council decided to have the city marshal stop those who were planning to leave.

Levi Jackman explained:  “A spirit of dissatisfaction began to show itself as to the country and against our leaders.  Some wanted to go to California and were determined they would go at all hazards.  The council took the subject into consideration.  Not knowing what influence they might use in that place and for other reasons, we passed a law that none would be permitted to go until the Presidency should return next season.  Yet some did start and we sent the martial and brought them back.”

A new committee was appointed to draft city laws.  Those on the committee included Parley P. Pratt, Daniel Spencer, John Taylor, Charles C. Rich, Henry G. Sherwood, and Albert Carrington.

On Tuesday, several laws were enacted.  If anyone was convicted of idleness, trustees would be appointed to take charge of the person's property.  The person was to be put into employment by the trustees and paid for the labor.  If anyone was convicted of violence to person or property, they would receive a certain number of lashes on their bare back, to not exceed 39, or be fined up to five hundred dollars.  If any person was convicted of adultery or fornication, they would also receive the same punishment.  The fine could be up to one thousand dollars.  If any person was convicted of drunkenness, cursing, firing guns within the fort, or disturbing the peace, they would be fined up to twenty‑five dollars.

Parley P. Pratt wrote:  “The opening of the year found us and the community generally in good, comfortable, temporary log or adobe cabins, which were built in a way to enclose the square commenced by the pioneers, and a portion of two other blocks of the city plot.  Here life was as sweet and the holidays as merry as in the Christian palaces and mansions of those who had driven us to the mountains.”

On New Year's Day, a group of Saints gathered at Brother Miller's house.  Patty Sessions wrote:  “It was the best new years I ever spent.  We feasted, then blessed and was blessed.”  Levi Jackman said it was the best meeting he had ever attended.  He was very impressed by sisters in attendance and remarked that there was more intelligence in the hearts of the sisters during the meeting than in the hearts “of all the crowned heads of Europe.”

Miller's Hollow, Iowa:

On Sunday, the Church conference reconvened at 10 a.m.  Elder William I. Appleby addressed the Saints on the political state of the world, the gathering of Israel, and the signs of the times.  Elder Appleby had recently returned from a mission to the east and the Saints were eager to here his words.  Hosea Stout commented:  “His discourse was lengthy and very interesting to all present for our means of information at this time was very limited.  He is a beautiful and easy speaker.”

Other speakers included members of the Twelve.  Heber C. Kimball spoke out against attending “Gentile” dances.  An evening session was held at which Orson Pratt and Wilford Woodruff spoke.  Eight hundred people packed into the log tabernacle that evening to hear the brethren.  Brigham Young requested that all of the priesthood be assembled for the conference session on the next day.

On Monday, December 27, about one thousand Saints packed themselves into the tabernacle for the conference.  Historian Richard Bennett wrote:  “The marshal kept calling for people to clear the aisles, crowd the benches, free the seats at the front on the raised platform for the High Council and the Twelve, and not to crowd the fireplaces and stoves.  Many kept their coats on, and several spread buffalo robes down the rows and across their laps to keep warm.

Heber C. Kimball spoke in the morning calling on sinners to repent.  The names of the ordained Seventies were read.  President Brigham Young explained that the Seventies would not be reorganized into Quorums until they arrived at the valley.

In the afternoon, John Kay sang, with violin accompaniment what may have been the first public singing of William Clayton's hymn “All is Well” (or “Come, Come Ye Saints.”).  Orson Pratt discussed again the subject of reorganizing the First Presidency of the Church.  Others shared their feelings.  Wilford Woodruff recorded:  “It was then moved, seconded, and carried universally that Brigham Young be the President over the whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑Day Saints.  President Young then nominated Heber C. Kimball to be his first counselor which was seconded and carried unanimously.  President Young then nominated Willard Richards as his second counselor which was seconded and carried universally.  It was then moved, seconded, and carried universally that President John Smith be the Patriarch over the whole church.”

President Brigham Young then spoke and instructed the Saints on various subjects.  He preached about the resurrection.  He said that only a person with a resurrected body could hold keys of the resurrection.  Father Adam held the keys of resurrection.  President Young testified that the communion of the Holy Spirit had been felt in abundance during the conference.  He said, “This is one of the happiest days of my life.”

The conference was concluded and the next General Conference scheduled for April 6, 1848.  The congregation sang, “This Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning” ending with the “Hosannah Shout” three times.

During the evening the Saints enjoyed listening, dancing, and singing to the music of the band in the log tabernacle.  The Twelve returned to Winter Quarters on Tuesday, crossing over the frozen Missouri River.


Winter Quarters, Nebraska:

During the week Ezra T. Benson, Amasa Lyman, Erastus Snow, William I. Appleby, and others started a journey to the east in an attempt to solicit aid for the needy.

One of General Kearney's officers arrived during the week to try to persuade ladies to attend a nonmember ball at Trader's Point on New Year's Eve.

The Twelve met together on Wednesday to hear a mission report of Alpheus Cutler.  He had been to the South and reported that the Lord was opening the doors for missionary work, especially among the Lamanites.

The Richard's family held a party on New Year's Eve.  Mary Richards recorded:  “There was a very agreeable company assembled, Uncle Willard among the rest.  The bishop presided over the party and all things was done in order, had a good supper past around.  The dance went off pleasantly.  I danced 4 or 5 times.  Danced the Old Year out and New Year in with Henry.”

At the year drew to a close, Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal:  “The blessing of the Lord has been great upon us as a people during the past year in all the various portions of the camp of Israel.  We have now found a place to build a stake of Zion, where the people can gather together and build up Zion.  . . . What 1848 will bring to pass in the history of the Church and Kingdom of God, time must determine.”

On New Years Day, in the evening, a party was held at the Council house with the Twelve, the police, and their wives.


St. Louis, Missouri:

Elder Orson Hyde met with the Saints in St.  Louis.  There were nearly 2,000 Saints gathered in the city at that time.  They donated $705.84 to help the brethren move the Saints to the west.



Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 17, p.99; Levi Jackman Autobiography, typescript, BYU‑S, p.44; Parley Pratt Autobiography(1985), p.334; Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 5, p.76; Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 6, p.307; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:300‑303; Harwell, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1847‑1850, 81‑2; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 292‑94; Smart, Mormon Midwife, 105; Beecher, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 216; Ward, Winter Quarters, 185; Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 213‑14; Bennett, We'll Find The Place, 292



[1]They would name the girl Sally.  After reaching adulthood, she would marry Chief Kanosh and live with the Pahvant tribe.

[2]The first death among the Saints in the valley was three‑year‑old Milton Howard Therlkill, who on Aug 11, 1847, drowned in City Creek.

[3]Most likely a confused report with the Donner/Reed tragedy.

[4]These appointments would not be made until more than a year later.  On February 12, 1849 the following brethren were ordained apostles:  Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, and Franklin D. Richards.

[5]This marriage to a nonmember would cause quite a stir among the Saints.  Many felt that this showed that Emma had forsaken the faith.  This certainly ended any speculation that she might join the Saints in the west.  Bidamon would soon start legal action to block any further sales of Church property in Nauvoo.