BETA

Pioneers arrive at Ft. Laramie

Sunday, May 30, 1847:

After the pioneers were reproved the previous day by President Brigham Young for their recent inappropriate conduct and neglect of their spiritual duties, a somber mood prevailed over the camp. As it was the Sabbath, a morning prayer meeting was held, and for the first time on the overland journey, the sacrament was administered. Following this, the members of the Twelve (eight in number), and nine other men ascended a bluff above the encampment. Here, they offered sacred prayers unto God. The rest of the company members spent most of the day in quiet contemplation.Monday, May 31:

The pioneers traveled nearly 17 miles and struck the main road leading to Fort Laramie. That evening they camped a few miles inside the present-day Wyoming border. William Clayton summarized his feelings concerning the travels and activities of the camp during the month. He wrote: "The month of May has passed over, and we have been permitted to proceed so far on our journey, being 5311/4 miles from our families in Winter Quarters, the Camp generally enjoying good health and in good spirits; and although some things have passed which have merited chastisement we have the privilege at the closing of the month of seeing a better feeling, a more noble spirit, and a more general desire to do right than we have before witnessed.

Tuesday, June 1:

After traveling 12 miles for the day, the pioneers camped opposite Fort Platte, an unfinished and abandoned post situated on the south side of the North Platte River about two miles south of Fort Laramie. Soon after stopping, several men rode out from Fort Laramie to meet them and it was soon learned that they were Latter-day Saints who were part of the Mississippi company. The Mississippi Mormons had started overland in 1846, expecting to meet up with the main body of Saints. However, upon learning that Church leaders had chosen to winter on the Missouri at Winter Quarters, they traveled some 250 miles where they spent the winter at Pueblo, Colo. Later they were joined by a number of Mormon Battalion members who had been sent to Pueblo on account of illness. A group from Pueblo, 17 in number, led by Robert Crow of Illinois, had been at Fort Laramie for about two weeks, awaiting the arrival of Brigham Young and the vanguard company. From them, it was learned that some battalion members who were part of the sick detachment had died.

Wednesday, June 2:

During the early morning hours, Brigham Young and several other brethren crossed over to the south side of the North Platte, examined the remains of Fort Platte, and then traveled two miles to Fort Laramie. The fort was the first permanent post erected in Wyoming. It was built by William Sublette and Robert Campbell 13 years earlier (1834) with the intent of capitalizing on the fur trade, and also to trade with the Arapaho, Cheyenne and Sioux Indian tribes. At the time the Mormons arrived, it was occupied by 38 people, mostly Frenchmen and Sioux Indians. The fort measured 168 by 116 feet.

Upon arriving at the post, Brigham Young was introduced to James Bordeaux, superintendent at the fort. The two men entered into a cheerful conversation and an agreement was reached to use Bordeaux's flat boat at a cost of $15 to ferry the Mormon company across the river. In addition, arrangements were made to use the blacksmith shops to do necessary repairs. Bordeaux also opened his store. However, at the time, the fort was low on food items. This was due to the fact that spring supplies had not arrived. Merchandise items were more plentiful.

Following dinner, a council was held where it was decided that Amasa Lyman, along with three others, would be sent to Pueblo to meet the battalion detachment and the remainder of the Mississippi Mormons and bring them to Fort Laramie, then follow the track of the main company.

Thursday, June 3:

Much of the day was spent ferrying the wagons and carriages across the North Platte River and setting up camp just outside the fort. It took two days to get the entire company across. From Fort Laramie, the pioneer company would travel on the south side of the North Platte until reaching its northernmost point near present-day Casper, Wyo.

After establishing camp, the men set about making necessary equipment repairs in the blacksmith shops. Other chores were also attended to. Wilford Woodruff noted, "Br Burnham

didT my washing to day the first time I have washed my clothes since I left Winter Quarters. Br Frost

madeT 6 shoes for me to day & 2 for Br Smoot."

Amasa Lyman, Thomas Woolsey, John H. Tippetts, and Roswell Stevens started on horseback and mules for Pueblo.

Friday, June 4:

By 8 a.m., the last Mormon wagons had been ferried across the North Platte. Before resuming their journey, a number of Saints wrote letters to their family members back at Winter Quarters, which letters would be delivered by travelers returning to the east. With the addition of the Mississippi contingent, the company now numbered 148 men, eight women and five children. There were also 79 wagons, 96 horses, 51 mules, 90 oxen, 43 cows, three bulls, nine calves, 16 dogs and 16 chickens.

Before departing, William Clayton posted a guide board containing the following distances: 5431/4 miles from Winter Quarters, 2271/2 miles from the Junction of the Platte, 1421/2 miles from Ash Hollow, 701/4 miles from Chimney Rock and 501/2 miles from Scotts Bluff.

The entire company departed Fort Laramie at noon and traveled 81/2 miles before camping for the night.

Saturday, June 5:

The pioneers made good mileage - 17 miles for the day - in spite of having to cross several steep bluffs and rocky ledges. Robert Crow's wagon overturned, but no damage was done. Wilford Woodruff observed that the hills were becoming more "lofty." They also came across another overland company from Missouri that was also headed west. The party consisted of about a dozen wagons.

That evening, Heber C. Kimball selected the site where the company camped for the night. Howard Egan noted that it was one of the best campsites since leaving Winter Quarters. The feed was good for the animals, a spring was nearby, and for the first time on their journey, wood was plentiful. The Missourians camped one-fourth mile away on the same stream.

Sources: An intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, pp.334-39; Leonard J. Arrington, "Mississippi Mormons," Ensign 7 (June 1977): pp. 46-51; Manuscript History of Brigham Young, pp. 556-57; Orson Pratt, "Journal," Millenial Star 12 (1 April 1850); pp. 98-100, (15 April 1850): pp. 113-14; "The Pioneers of 1847" Historical Record 9 (March 1890): pp. 43-48; Pioneering the West, 1846-1878, pp. 61-66; Wilford Woodruff's Journals 3:190-97.