Migrations Of The Mormons Author: Kane, Thomas L.
Migrations Of The Mormons
Among the numerous religious bodies that have grown up in the United States, the sect of Mormons, officially called "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," is perhaps the most unique in its origin and organization, and the most singular in its history. The sect was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, of Vermont. He declared that he had discovered one of its authoritative writings, the Book of Mormon, at Cumorah, New York. This book, he said, was found by him buried in the earth at a place revealed to him by an angel. According to the Mormons, the book, written in mystic characters on golden plates, is a record of certain ancient people - "the long-lost tribes of Israel," Smith declared - inhabiting North America. This book is said to have been abridged by the prophet Mormon, and translated by Smith. By anti-Mormons it is supposed to be based on a manuscript romance written by Solomon Spaulding.
The Mormon Church is governed by a hierarchy with two orders of priesthood, a president, two counselors, twelve apostles, and elders and other officers. Peculiar as their polity appears, it has proved remarkably successful in the development of their church and community, notwithstanding stern hostility and widespread disapproval. They present an impressive example of shrewdness, thrift, and administrative skill, resulting in great material prosperity. Besides their separate books, they accept the Bible as authoritative, and many of their doctrines and rites resemble those common to the Christian sects. More than anything else, their teaching and their practice of polygamy have brought them into collision with "Gentiles" and with the United States Government.
The first Mormon settlement was at Kirtland, Ohio, the next was in Missouri. From those States they were expelled, and in 1840 they founded Nauvoo in Illinois. Their later experience, up to their permanent establishment in Utah, is recounted in the following narrative of the hardships endured and surmounted by this extraordinary people. But it should be added that the cause of the exodus was not, as is generally supposed, religious persecution. The leaders of the sect at Nauvoo had set up a bank without capital and passed thousands of its worthless notes upon the unsuspecting farmers and traders; and it was this and other crimes that exasperated the inhabitants of that region to the point of driving away the whole community of Mormons.
Once, while ascending the upper Mississippi in the autumn, when its waters were low, I was compelled to travel by land past the region of the rapids. My road lay through the "Half-Breed Tract," a fine section of Iowa, which the unsettled state of its land titles had appropriated as a sanctuary for coiners, horse thieves, and other outlaws. I had left my steamer at Keokuk, at the foot of the Lower Fall, to hire a carriage, and to contend for some fragments of a dirty meal with the swarming flies, the only scavengers of the locality. From this place to where the deep water of the river returns, my eye wearied to see everywhere sordid, vagabond, and idle settlers, and a country marred, without being improved, by their careless hands.
I was descending the last hillside upon my journey, when a landscape in delightful contrast broke upon my view. Half encircled by a bend of the river, a beautiful city lay glittering in the fresh morning sun; its bright new dwellings set in cool green gardens ranging up around a stately dome-shaped hill which was crowned by a noble marble edifice whose high tapering spire was radiant with white and gold. The city appeared to cover several miles; and beyond it, in the background, spread a fair rolling country, checkered by symmetrical lines of fruitful husbandry. The unmistakable evidences of industry, enterprise, and educated wealth, everywhere, made the scene one of singular and most striking beauty.
It was a natural impulse to visit this inviting region. I procured a skiff and rowing across the river landed at the principal wharf of the city. No one met me there. I looked, and saw no one: I heard no movement; though the stillness everywhere was such that I heard the flies buzz, and the ripples break against the shallows of the beach. I walked through the solitary streets. The town lay as in a dream, under some deadening spell of loneliness from which I almost feared to wake it. Plainly it had not slept long. There was no grass growing in the paved ways and rain had not washed away the prints of footsteps in the dust.
Yet I went about unchecked. I went into empty ropewalks, workshops, and smithies. The spinner's wheel was idle; the carpenter had gone from his workbench and left his sash and casing unfinished. Fresh bark was in the tanner's vat, and the fresh chopped lightwood stood piled against the baker's oven. The blacksmith's shop was cold; but his coal-heap and ladling-pool and crooked water-horn were all there, as if he had just gone off for a holiday. No workpeople, anywhere, looked to know my errand. If I went into the gardens, clinking the wicket latch loudly after me, to pull the marigolds, heartsease, and lady's-slippers, and draw a drink with the water-sodden well-bucket and its noisy chain; or, knocking off with my stick the tall, heavy-headed dahlias and sunflowers, hunting among the beds for cucumbers and love-apples - no one called out to me from any opened window; no dog sprang forward to bark an alarm. I could have supposed the people hidden in the houses, but the doors were unfastened; and when at last I timidly entered, I found dead ashes cold upon the hearth, and had to tread on tiptoe, as if walking down the aisle of a country church, to avoid rousing irreverent echoes from the naked floors.
On the outskirts of the town was the city graveyard. But there was no record of plague there, nor did it in any wise differ much from other Protestant American cemeteries. Some of the mounds were not long sodded; some of the stones were newly set, their dates recent, and their black inscriptions glossy in the hardly dried lettering-ink. Beyond the graveyard, out in the fields, I saw, in one spot hard by where the fruited boughs of a young orchard had been torn down, the still smoldering embers of a barbecue fire that had been constructed of rails from the fencing around it. It was the latest sign of life there. Fields upon fields of heavy-headed grain lay rotting ungathered upon the ground. No one was at hand to take in their rich harvest. As far as the eye could reach, they stretched away - they, sleeping too in the hazy air of autumn.
Only two portions of the city seemed to suggest the import of this mysterious solitude. In the southern suburb the houses looking out upon the country showed, by their splintered woodwork and walls battered to the foundation, that they had lately been the mark of a destructive cannonade. And in and around the splendid temple, which had been the chief object of my admiration, armed men were barracked, surrounded by their stacks of musketry and pieces of heavy ordnance. These challenged me to render an account of myself, and to tell the reason why I had had the temerity to cross the water without a written permit from a leader of their band.
Though these men were generally more or less under the influence of ardent spirits, after I had explained myself as a passing stranger they seemed anxious to gain my good opinion. They told me the story of the "dead city": that it had been a notable manufacturing and commercial mart, sheltering over twenty thousand persons; that they had waged war with its inhabitants for several years, and had been finally successful only a few days before my visit, in an action fought in the ruined suburb; after which, they had driven them forth at the point of the sword. The defence, they said, had been obstinate, but gave way on the third day's bombardment.
They also conducted me inside the massive sculptured walls of the curious temple, in which they said the banished inhabitants were accustomed to celebrate the mystic rites of an unhallowed worship. They particularly pointed out to me certain features of the building, which, having been the peculiar objects of a former superstitious regard, they had as matter of duty sedulously defiled and defaced. The reputed sites of certain shrines they had thus particularly noticed, and various sheltered chambers, in one of which was a deep well constructed, they believed, with a dreadful design. Besides these, they led me to see a large and deeply chiselled marble vase, or basin, supported upon twelve oxen, also of marble and of life size, and of which they told some romantic stories. They said the deluded persons, most of whom were emigrants from a great distance, believed their deity countenanced their reception here of a baptism of regeneration as proxies for whomsoever they held in warm affection in the countries from which they had come: that here parents "went into the water" for their lost children, children for their parents, widows for their spouses, and young persons for their lovers: that thus the great vase came to be associated with all their most cherished memories, and was therefore the chief object of all others in the building, upon which they bestowed the greatest degree of their idolatrous affection. On this account, the victors had so diligently desecrated it as to render the apartment in which it was contained too noisome to abide in.
They permitted me also to ascend into the steeple to see where it had been struck by lightning on the Sabbath before; and to look out, east and south, on wasted farms - like those I had seen near the city - extending till they were lost in the distance. Close to the scar left by the thunderbolt were fragments of food, cruses of liquor and broken drinking-vessels, with a bass-drum and a steamboat signal-bell, of which, with pain, I learned the use.
It was after nightfall when I was ready to cross the river on my return. The wind had freshened since sunset and, the water beating roughly into my little boat, I headed higher up the stream than the point I had left in the morning, and landed where a faint glimmering light invited me to steer. Among the rushes - sheltered only by the darkness, without roof between them and the sky - I came upon a crowd of several hundred human creatures whom my movements roused from uneasy slumber.
Dreadful indeed was the suffering of these forsaken beings. Cowed and cramped by cold and sunburn alternating as each weary day and night dragged on, they were, almost all of them, the crippled victims of disease. They were there because they had no homes, nor hospital, nor poorhouse, nor friends to offer them any. They could not minister to the needs of their sick; they had no bread to quiet the fractious, hungry cries of their children. Mothers and babes, daughters and grandparents, all alike were clothed in tatters, lacking even sufficient covering for the fever-stricken sufferers.
These were the Mormons, famishing, in Lee County, Iowa, in the fourth week of the month of September, 1846. The deserted city was Nauvoo, Illinois. The Mormons were the owners of that city and the smiling country around it. And those who had stopped their ploughs, who had silenced their hammers, their axes, their shuttles and the wheels of their workshops; those who had put out their fires, who had eaten their food, spoiled their orchards, and trampled under foot their thousands of acres of unharvested grain - these were the keepers of their dwellings, the carousers in their temple, the noise of whose drunken rioting insulted the ears of the dying.
They were, all told, not more than six hundred forty persons who were thus lying on the river-flats. But the Mormons in Nauvoo and its environs had been numbered the year before at over twenty thousand. Where were they? They had last been seen, carrying in mournful trains their sick and wounded, halt and blind, to disappear behind the western horizon, pursuing the phantom of another home. Hardly anything else was known of them; and people asked with curiosity, "What had been their fate - what their fortunes?"
The party encountered by me at the river shore were the last of the Mormons that left the city. They had all of them engaged the year before that they would vacate their homes and seek some other place of refuge. It had been the condition of a truce between them and their assailants; and, as an earnest of their good faith, the chief elders, and some others of obnoxious standing, with their families, were to set out for the West in the spring of 1846. It had been stipulated in return that the rest of the Mormons might remain behind, in the peaceful enjoyment of their Illinois abode, until their leaders, with their exploring party, could, with all diligence, select for them a new place of settlement beyond the Rocky Mountains, in California, or elsewhere, and until they had opportunity to dispose to the best advantage of the property which they were then to leave.
Some renewed symptoms of hostile feeling had however determined the pioneer party to begin their work before the spring. It was of course anticipated that this would be a perilous service; but it was regarded as a matter of self-denying duty. The ardor and emulation of many, particularly the devout and the young, were stimulated by the difficulties it involved; and the ranks of the party were therefore filled up with volunteers from among the most effective and responsible members of the sect. They began their march in midwinter; and by the beginning of February nearly all of them were on the road, many of their wagons having crossed the Mississippi on the ice.
Under the most favoring circumstances, an expedition of this sort, undertaken at such a season of the year, could scarcely fail to be disastrous. But the pioneer company had to set out in haste, and were very imperfectly supplied with necessaries. The cold was intense. They moved in the teeth of keen-edged northwest winds, such as sweep down the Iowa peninsula from the icebound regions of the timber-shaded Slave Lake and Lake of the Woods. Along the scattered watercourses, where they broke the thick ice to give their cattle drink, the annual autumn fires had left but little firewood. To men, insufficiently furnished with tents and other appliances of shelter, wood was almost a necessary of life. After days of fatigue their nights were often passed in restless efforts to prevent themselves from freezing. Their stock of food also proved inadequate; and as their constitutions became more debilitated their suffering from cold increased. Afflicted with catarrhal affections, manacled by the fetters of dreadfully acute rheumatism, some contrived for a while to get over the shortening day's march and drag along some others. But the sign of an impaired circulation soon began to show itself in the liability of all to be dreadfully frost-bitten. The hardiest and strongest became helplessly crippled. About the same time the strength of their draught animals began to fail. The small supply of provender they could carry with them had given out. The winter-bleached prairie straw proved devoid of nourishment; and they could only keep them from starving by seeking for the "browse," as it is called, this being the green bark and tender buds and branches of the cottonwood and other stunted growths in the hollows.
To return to Nauvoo was apparently the only escape; but this would have been to give occasion for fresh mistrust and so to bring new trouble to those they had left there behind them. They resolved at least to hold their ground, and to advance as they might, were it only by limping through the deep snows a few slow miles a day. They found a sort of comfort in comparing themselves to the exiles of Siberia, and sought consolation in earnest prayers for the spring.
The spring came at last. It overtook them in the Sac and Fox country, still on the naked prairie, not yet half way over the trail they were following between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. But it brought its own share of troubles with it. The months with which it opened proved nearly as trying as the worst of winter.
The snow and sleet and rain which fell, as it appeared to them, without intermission, made the road over the rich prairie soil as impassable as one vast bog of heavy black mud. Sometimes they would fasten the horses and oxen of four or five wagons to one, and attempt to get ahead in this way, taking turns; but at the close of a day of hard toil for themselves and their cattle, they would find themselves a quarter or a half a mile from the place they left in the morning. The heavy rains raised all the water-courses; the most trifling streams were impassable. Wood, fit for bridging, was often not to be had, and in such cases the only resource was to halt for the freshets to subside - a matter in the case of the headwaters of the Chariton, for instance, of over three weeks' delay.
These were dreary waitings upon Providence. The most spirited and sturdy murmured most at their forced inactivity. And even the women, whose heroic spirits had been proof against the severest cold, confessed their tempers fluctuated with the ceaseless variations of the barometer. They complained too that the health of their children suffered more. It was the fact that the damp winds of March and April brought with them more mortal sickness than the sharpest freezing weather.
The frequent burials discouraged and depressed the hardiest spirits; but the general hopefulness of human nature was well illustrated by the fact that even the most provident were found unfurnished with burial necessaries, and as a result they were often driven to the most melancholy makeshifts.
The usual expedient adopted was to cut a log of some eight or nine feet long, and slitting the bark longitudinally, strip it off in two half-cylinders. These, placed around the body of the deceased and bound firmly together with withs made of alburnum, formed a rough sort of tubular coffin, which surviving relatives and friends, with a little show of black crape, could follow to the hole or bit of ditch dug to receive it in the wet ground of the prairie. The name of the deceased, his age, the date of his death, and the surrounding landmarks were all registered with care. His party was then ready to move on. Such graves mark all the line of the first years of Mormon travel - dispiriting milestones to failing stragglers in the rear.
The hardships and trials which they had suffered developed a spirit of self-sacrifice among these indomitable people. Hale young men gave up their own food and shelter to the old and helpless, and worked their way back to parts of the frontier States, chiefly Missouri and Iowa where they were not recognized, and hired themselves out for wages, to purchase more. Others were sent there to exchange for meal and flour, or wheat and corn, the table- and bed-furniture and other remaining articles of personal property which a few had still retained.
In a kindred spirit of fraternity, others laid out great farms in the wilds and planted the grain saved for their own bread; that there might be harvests for those who should follow them. Two of these, in the Sac and Fox country and beyond it, Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah, included within their fences about two miles of land each, carefully planted with grain, with a hamlet of comfortable log cabins in the neighborhood of each.
Through all this the pioneers found comfort in the thought that their own suffering was the price of immunity from similar hardships their friends at home, in following their trail, would otherwise have had to pay. But the arrival of spring proved this a delusion. Before the warm weather had made the earth dry enough for easy travel, messengers came in from Nauvoo to overtake the party with fear-exaggerated tales of outrage, and to urge the chief men to hurry back to the city that they might give counsel and assistance there. The enemy had only waited until the emigrants were supposed to be gone on their road too far to return to interfere with them, and then renewed their aggressions.
The Mormons outside Nauvoo were indeed hard pressed, but inside the city they maintained themselves very well for two or three months longer. Strange to say, the chief part of this respite was devoted to completing the structure of their quaintly devised but beautiful temple. Since the dispersion of Jewry, probably, history affords us no parallel to the attachment of the Mormons for this edifice. Every architectural element, every most fantastic emblem it embodied, was associated, for them, with some cherished feature of their religion. Its erection had been enjoined upon them as a most sacred duty: they were proud of the honor it conferred upon their city, when it grew up in its splendor to become the chief object of the admiration of strangers upon the upper Mississippi. Besides, they had built it as a labor of love; they could count up to half a million the value of their tithings and freewill offerings laid upon it. Hardly a Mormon woman had not given up to it some trinket or pin-money; the poorest Mormon man had at least served the tenth part of his year on its walls; and the coarsest artisan could turn to it with something of the ennobling attachment an artist has for his own creation. Therefore, though their enemies drove on them ruthlessly, they succeeded in parrying the last sword-thrust, till they had completed even the gilding of the angel and trumpet on the summit of its lofty spire. As a closing work, they placed on the entablature of the front, like a baptismal mark on the forehead, these words:
______________________________________________________________ | | | The House Of The Lord: | | | | Built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day | | Saints. | | | | Holiness to the Lord! | | | [------------------------------------------------------------]
Then, at high noon, under the bright sunshine of May, the next after its completion, they consecrated it to divine service. There was a carefully studied ceremonial for the occasion. It was said the high elders of the sect travelled furtively from the camp of Israel in the wilderness, and, throwing off ingenious disguises, appeared in their own robes of office to give it splendor.
For that one day the temple stood resplendent in all its typical glories of sun, moon and stars, and other abounding figured and lettered signs, hieroglyphs, and symbols; but that day only. The sacred rites of consecration ended, the work of removing the sacrosancta proceeded with the rapidity of magic. It went on through the night, and when the morning of the next day dawned all the ornaments and furniture, everything that could provoke a sneer, had been carried off; and except some fixtures that would not bear removal, the building was dismantled.
This day saw the departure of the last of the elders, and the largest band that moved in one company together. The people of Iowa have told me that from morning to night they passed westward like an endless procession. They did not seem greatly out of heart, they said; but, at the top of every hill, before they disappeared, they were to be seen looking back, like banished Moors, on their abandoned homes and the distant temple and its glittering spire.
After this consecration, which was construed to indicate an insincerity on the part of the Mormons as to their stipulated departure, or at least a hope of return, their foes set upon them with renewed bitterness. As many fled as were at all prepared; but by the very fact of their so decreasing the already diminished forces of the city's defenders, they encouraged the enemy to greater boldness. It soon became apparent that nothing short of an immediate emigration could save the remnant.
From this time onward the energies of those already on the road were engrossed by the duty of providing for the fugitives who came crowding in after them. At a last general meeting of the sect in Nauvoo, there had been passed a unanimous resolution that they would sustain one another, whatever their circumstances, upon the march; and this, though made in view of no such appalling exigency, they now with one accord set themselves together to carry out.
The host again moved on. The tents which had gathered on the hill summits, like white birds hesitating to venture on the long flight over the river, were struck one after another, and the dwellers in them and their wagons and their cattle hastened down to cross it at a ferry in the valley, which they made by night and day. A little beyond the landing they formed their companies and made their preparations for the last and longest stage of their journey.
Though the season was late, when they first crossed the Missouri, some of them moved forward with great hopefulness, full of the notion of viewing and choosing their new homes that year. But the van had only reached Grand Island and the Pawnee villages, when they were overtaken by more ill news from Nauvoo. Before the summer closed, their enemies set upon the last remnant of those who were left behind in Illinois. They were a few lingerers, who could not be persuaded but there might yet be time for them to gather up their worldly goods before removing. Some weakly mothers and their infants, a few delicate young girls, and many cripples and bereaved and sick people - these had remained under shelter, according to the Mormon statement at least, by virtue of an express covenant in their behalf. If there was such a covenant, it was broken. A vindictive war was waged upon them, from which the weakest fled in scattered parties, leaving the rest to make a reluctant and almost ludicrously unavailing defense, till September 17th, when one thousand six hundred twenty-five troops entered Nauvoo and drove all forth who had not retreated before that time.
Like the wounded birds of a flock fired into toward nightfall, they came straggling on with faltering steps, many of them without bag or baggage, beast or barrow, all asking shelter or burial, and forcing a fresh repartition of the already divided rations of their friends. It was plain now that every energy must be taxed to prevent the entire expedition from perishing. Further emigration for the time was out of the question, and the whole people prepared themselves for encountering another winter on the prairie.
Happily for the main body, they found themselves at this juncture among Indians who were amicably disposed. The lands on both sides of the Missouri in particular were owned by the Pottawottomis and Omahas, two tribes whom unjust treatment by our United States Government had the effect of rendering most hospitable to strangers whom they regarded as persecuted like themselves.
They were pleased with the Mormons. They would have been pleased with any whites who would not cheat them, nor sell them whiskey, nor whip them for their poor gypsy habits, nor conduct themselves indecently toward their women, many of whom among the Pottawottomis - especially those of nearly unmixed French descent - are singularly comely, and some of them educated. But all Indians have something like a sentiment of reverence for the insane, and admire those who sacrifice, without apparent motive, their worldly welfare to the triumph of an idea. They understand the meaning of what they call a great vow, and think it the duty of the right-minded to lighten the votary's penance under it. To this feeling they united the sympathy of fellow-sufferers for those who could talk to them of their own Illinois, and tell the story of how they also had been ruthlessly expelled from it.
Their hospitality was sincere, almost delicate. Fanny le Clerc, the spoiled child of the great brave Pied Riche, interpreter of the nation, would have the paleface Miss Devine learn duets with her on the guitar; and the daughter of substantial Joseph la Framboise, the United States interpreter for the tribe (she died of the fever that summer) welcomed all the nicest young Mormon women to a party at her father's house, which was probably the best cabin in that village. They made the Mormons at home, there and elsewhere. Upon all their lands they formally gave them leave to remain as long as suited their own good pleasure.
The affair, of course, furnished material for a solemn council. Under the auspices of an officer of the United States their chiefs were summoned, in the form befitting great occasions, to meet in the yard of a Mr. P. A. Sarpy's log trading-house. They came in grand costume, moving in their fantastic attire with so much aplomb and genteel measure that the stranger found it difficult not to believe them high-born gentlemen, attending a fancy-dress ball. Their aristocratically thin legs, of which they displayed fully the usual Indian proportion, aided this illusion. There is something too at all times very mock-Indian in the theatrical French millinery tie of the Pottawottomi turban; while it is next to impossible for a sober white man, at first sight, to believe that the red, green, black, blue, and yellow cosmetics, with which he sees such grave personages so variously dotted, diapered, cancelled, and arabesqued are worn by them in any mood but one of the deepest and most desperate quizzing. From the time of their first squat upon the ground to the final breaking up of the council circle they sustained their characters with equal self-possession and address.
I will not take it upon myself to describe their order of ceremonies; indeed, I ought not, since I have never been able to view the habits and customs of our aborigines in any other light than that of a sorrowful subject of jest. Besides, in this instance, the powwow and the expected flow of turgid eloquence were both moderated probably by the conduct of the entire transaction on temperance principles. I therefore content myself with observing generally that the proceedings were such as in every way became the dignity of the parties interested, and the magnitude of the interests involved. When the red men had indulged to satiety in tobacco-smoke from their peace-pipes, and in what they love still better - their peculiar metaphoric rhodomontade, which, beginning with the celestial bodies, and coursing downward over the grandest sublunary objects, always managed to alight at last on their "Great Father," Polk, and the tenderness with which his affectionate red children regarded him. All the solemn funny fellows present, who played the part of chiefs, signed formal articles of convention with their unpronounceable names.
The renowned chief Pied Riche - he was surnamed Le Clerc on account of his remarkable scholarship - then rose and said: "My Mormon brethren, the Pottawottomi came, sad and tired, into this unhealthy Missouri bottom, not many years back, when he was taken from his beautiful country, beyond the Mississippi, which had abundant game and timber and clear water everywhere. Now you are driven away, the same, from your lodges and lands and the graves of your people. So we have both suffered. We must help one another, and the Great Spirit will help us both. You are now free to cut and use all the wood you may wish. You can make all your improvements, and live on any part of our actual land not occupied by us. Because one suffers, and does not deserve it, is no reason he shall suffer always: I say, we may live to see all right yet. However, if we do not, our children will. Bon jour!"
And thus ended the powwow. I give this speech as a morsel of real Indian. It was recited to me after the treaty by the Pottawottomi orator in French, which language he spoke with elegance. Bon jour ["good day"] is the French, Indian, and English hail, and farewell of the Pottawottomis.
Upon the Pottawotomi lands, scattered through the border regions of Missouri and Iowa, in the Sac and Fox country, a few among the Ioways, among the Poncas, in a great company upon the banks of the l'Eau qui Coulee (or Running Water) River, and at the Omaha winter quarters, the Mormons sustained themselves through the heavy winter of 1846-1847. It was the severest of their trials. This winter was the turning-point of the Mormon fortunes. Those who lived through it were spared to witness the gradual return of better times; and they now liken it to the passing of a dreary night, since which they have watched the coming of a steadily brightening day.
In the spring of 1847, a body of one hundred forty-three picked men, with seventy wagons, drawn by their best horses, left the Omaha quarters, under the command of the members of the high council who had wintered there. They carried with them little but seed and farming implements, their aim being to plant spring crops at their ultimate destination. They relied on their rifles to give them food, but rarely left their road in search of game. They made long marches, and moved as rapidly as possible.
Against the season when ordinary emigration passes the Missouri, they were already through the South Pass, and after a couple of short days' travel beyond it entered upon the more arduous part of their journey, which now lay through the Rocky Mountains. They passed Fremont's Peak, Long's Peak, The Twins, and other summits, but had great difficulties to overcome in forcing their way over other mountains of the rugged Utah range, sometimes following the stony bed of torrents, the headwaters of some of the mightiest rivers of our continent, and sometimes literally cutting their road through heavy and ragged timber. They arrived at the grand basin of the Great Salt Lake, much exhausted, but without losing a man, and in time to plant for a partial autumn harvest. Another party started after these pioneers from the Omaha winter quarters, in the summer. They had five hundred sixty-six wagons, and carried large quantities of grain, which they were able to sow before it froze.
The same season these were joined by a part of the battalion and other members of the Church who came eastward from California and the Sandwich Islands. Together they fortified themselves strongly with sun-dried brick walls and blockhouses, and, living safely through the winter, were able to reap crops that yielded ample provision for the ensuing year.
In 1848, nearly all the remaining members of the Church left the Missouri country in a succession of powerful bands, invigorated and enriched by their abundant harvests there; and that year saw fully established their commonwealth of the "New Covenant," the future State of "Deseret." ^1
[Footnote 1: The Mormons repeatedly tried to secure the admission of Deseret into the Union as a State under that name - said to mean "virtue and industry." When Utah was organized as a Territory (1850), the Mormon leader, Brigham Young, was made governor. In 1857 President Buchanan appointed a non-Mormon to succeed Young. This act led the Mormons to rebel, but after a display of military force by the Government they acknowledged allegiance. In 1896, polygamy having been prohibited by Congress, Utah was admitted to the Union. Since the settlement of the Mormons upon the Great Salt Lake there has been a large immigration into Utah. The Mormons have spread beyond that State into Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, and other parts of the West and Southwest. - Ed.]
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