This is another in a weekly series of day-by-day summaries of what transpired 150 years ago during the Saints' 1846-47 trek from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Salt Lake Valley. The compiler, Alexander L. Baugh, is an assistant professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University.
Sunday, March 21, 1847:
The weather at Winter Quarters was warm enough to hold an outdoor Sabbath day meeting for the entire community. At 11 a.m., the Nauvoo Temple bell was rung and the Saints assembled at the public square. President Brigham Young was the only speaker and addressed the congregation from the stand where he spoke on a variety of subjects.
Monday, March 22:
At 1 p.m. the captains of one hundred and the presidents of the pioneer companies met at the Council House for an organizational meeting. Two major topics were discussed. First, a decision was made concerning how the homes in Winter Quarters could best be moved so as to form a stockade around the community. More significantly however, was Brigham Young's announcement that after locating the main settlement of the Saints in the West, he would return to Winter Quarters. Hosea Stout reported, "President Young gave notice that it was his intention & also that of the 12 to proceed on
toT the Great Basin without stoping . . . with only two pioneers to a wagon and that he intended to locate a Stake of Zion and this fall come back after his family." In making this statement, President Young still intended that additional companies be outfitted and be prepared to follow during the later spring and summer. However, he recommended these companies be made up of small families who could arrange to take a sufficient amount of provisions so that they could remain in the new settlement.
Tuesday, March 23:
Under the direction of Heber C. Kimball, several members of the Twelve held a meeting to advise David Lewis, a Church member living in the Ponca settlement, concerning what the members there should do.
After some deliberation, it was decided that the Ponca community be abandoned and that the Saints there should move to Winter Quarters as quickly as possible so they could put in spring crops.
Companies A, C, D, and E of the Mormon Battalion arrived at the Pueblo de Los Angeles following a four-day journey from the San Luis Rey Mission.
Wednesday, March 24:
Chief Big Elk of the Omaha tribe, along with his interpreter, visited with Brigham Young. The two leaders probably discussed some ongoing problems between the Mormons and the Indians. It had been reported to President Young that the Omahas had shot a number of cattle belonging to the Mormons. In addition, John Barrows, who was living at Cutler's Park, had also been accosted by several Indians who had stripped him of his coat, and shot his dog. Following their conversation, President Young entertained them with dinner, gave them some provisions, then allowed the chief and his band to spend the night in the Council House. The presence of the Indians in the settlement caused the police chief, Hosea Stout, some concern.
"Council House full of Omaha's," he noted in his journal. "Hard to keep up the guard."
Thursday, March 25:
President Brigham Young held another meeting with Chief Big Elk where once again the two leaders discussed the problems associated with the Indians stealing and killing some of the animals belonging to the Mormons. The chief indicated that the Pawnee and Ponca tribes were also in the region and that they may have been the ones who might actually be responsible, but he agreed to turn back any horses that might be found among his people.
President Young also dictated two letters. The first was addressed to Mr. R. M. Estill, a merchant who was desirous to establish a mercantile business in the settlement. He informed the entrepreneur that a body of the Saints would likely remain in the area for at least another year and he was welcome to move into the settlement and establish his store on the condition that he market articles of good quality and sell them on reasonable terms and upon the common principles of trade. He also indicated what would not be allowed. "We shall object to your bringing any spiritous liquors to this place to sell or give away," he wrote. "We must also object to your trading with the Indians," he wrote, and "to your having or harboring in or about your premises, persons of any description, engaged in gambling or conniving in any form."
President Young concluded by making it clear to Mr. Estill that if he chose to come, he must not hold the Mormon leader responsible for the success or failure of the business.
President Young's second letter was addressed to the Church members living in the Ponca settlement, which letter was subsequently delivered by David Lewis.
Friday, March 26:
Brigham Young took advantage of a warm, clear day to address the Saints in the public square concerning important matters relative to Winter Quarters after the departure of the Twelve. He encouraged those who remained to re-position the cabins to construct a stockade around the settlement. He also instructed everyone to cover their cabins with split logs or slabs, and advised those living in dugouts to move into more permanent structures.
Furthermore, he counseled the members to be tolerant of the Indians in regards to their stealing and killing. "It [is] wrong to indulge in feelings of hostility and bloodshed toward the Indian, the descendants of Israel, who might kill a cow, an ox or even a horse," he said. "To them the deer, the buffalo, the cherry and plum tree or strawberry bed were free. It was their mode of living to kill and eat."
The Saints reassembled in the afternoon. Once again, President Young was the main speaker. He cautioned them against following would-be leaders. Hosea Stout wrote, "Brigham spoke particular in relation to what would follow when the Twelve were gone, that men would rise up and complain that the Twelve were not right & that they themselves we
reT the ones to lead and govern the people."
In the evening, President Young and the Twelve held a private meeting in the Council House. After conducting their business, they were entertained by William McCarey. "He played on his thirty-six cent flute, being a natural musician," wrote President Young, "and gave several illustrations of his ability as a mimic."
Saturday, March 27:
On this date, Wilford Woodruff noted that he attended the funeral of a Sister Burnham, whose family he drove in his wagon to the grave and burial. Although the death invoked a spirit of solemnity, Elder Woodruff enjoyed a pleasurable evening. "During the evening I took a ride out with my family & friends around the City & down the river Bank," wrote the young apostle. "I wet my feet & returned home."
Sources: The Diary of Hosea Stout, pp. 242-44; Journal History of the Church; Journals of John D. Lee, pp. 127-36; Manuscript History of Brigham Young, pp. 538-42; The March of the Mormon Battalion, p. 214; Wilford Woodruff's Journal 3:142-43.