D&C/CHURCH HISTORY - LESSON 45
BUILDING THE KINGDOM
- Introductory Comments.
- The Kingdom Of God.
- WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
- The organization of God's people on earth.
- The Kingdom of God may range from:
- The assembly of a few believers led by priesthood authority.
- A worldwide church organization as we know it today.
- The spiritual/temporal kingdom filling the earth to be presided over
by the Savior himself.
- Joseph Smith said: "Whenever men can find out the will of God
and find an administrator legally authorized from God, there is the kingdom
of God; but where these are not, the kingdom of God is not. All the ordinances,
systems, and administrations on the earth are of no use to the children
of men, unless they are ordained and authorized of God; for nothing will
save a man but a legal administrator; for none others will be acknowledged
either by God or angels." (DHC 5:256)
- Concerning the future destiny of the kingdom the Prophet wrote: "I
calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel
by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize
the whole world. I once offered my life to the Missouri mob as a sacrifice
for my people, and here I am. It will not be by sword or gun that this
kingdom will roll on: the power of truth is such that all nations will
be under the necessity of obeying the Gospel." (DHC 6:365)
- In the previous lesson, the vanguard company of pioneers had crossed
from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley.
- We pick up the history from that point.
- The Return To Winter Quarters & First Months In The Valley.
- Getting Organized & Settling In.
- One of the problems in studying history, is that we often see it from
our perspective rather in the context of the time in which the history
- It is important to remember that this was not a campout. This was not
50 mile Scout hike.
- These people had crossed hundreds of miles in rugged terrain.
- They had been crossing the wilderness for hundreds of miles.
- At times, their lives were in real jeopardy.
- And now, they were as far away from civilization as one could get in
the United States at that time. They could not request supplies and have
them in days or weeks, or even months.
- After migrating through the wilderness, they were about to lay the
foundation for a civilization. WHAT AN UNDERTAKING. Organization was the
- The day after the arrival of Brigham Young was Sunday, the Sabbath.
- Near the close of their worship service, President Young spoke to the
- He informed the brethren that they must not work, hunt, or fish on
Sunday. This was to be the law in the Salt Lake valley. If one could not
abide by this, they could go and live elsewhere.
- He said, "No man should buy or sell land. Every man should
have his land measured off to him for city and farming purposes, what he
could till. He might till it as he pleased, but he should be industrious
and take care of it." (CHC 3:269)
- He also declared that there would be no private ownership in the water
streams. Wood and timber would be regarded as community property. Only
dead timber was to be used for fuel.
- These principles were important. Thousands were planning on migrating
to the Great Basin. One group should not have advantage over the other.
- Late on the afternoon of July 28, accompanied by Elders Heber C. Kimball,
Willard Richards, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Amasa
Lyman, Ezra T. Benson, all members of the Twelve, accompanied also by Thomas
Bullock, the president's secretary, Brigham Young "designated the
site for the temple block between the forks of City Creek, and on motion
of Orson Pratt it was unanimously voted that the temple be built upon the
site designated." (CHC 3:280)
- July 29: The detachments of the Mormon Battalion and the Mississippi
saints arrived in the valley.
- There were about 140 from the battalion and 100 of the Mississippi
saints. This swelled the population of the valley to about 400.
- Committees organized for work:
- Farming: 35 acres were staked off, plowed, harrowed, and irrigated.
They planted potatoes, corn, oats, etc.
- Surveying: This committee laid out the city in 135 ten-acre blocks,
with the Temple Block in the center. Lots divided up, streets laid out,
creeks named, regulations for sidewalks & houses devised. One block
was selected for the construction of a stockade where the pioneers could
live until permanent structures could be built.
- Building: Building the fort. A large group was assigned to building
log cabins and a wall around the fort.
- Logging: Located timber in canyons, constructed a road, blacksmith
shop set-up, corrals built, community storehouse built.
- Hunting: In one eight day period they only bagged 1 hare, 1 badger,
1 white wolf, 3 sage hens, 4 fish.
- Salt committee: Came up with 125 bushels of course white salt and 1
barrel of fine table salt.
- Exploring: Brigham Young knew that the kingdom must expand beyond the
Great Salt Lake Valley. Explorations were sent to Weber, Cache, Utah, Cedar,
& Tooele Valleys. The Mormon Battalion brought information concerning
the northern route over the Sierra from Sacramento. Some were commissioned
to return to California via the southern route.
- WHICH COMMITTEES DO YOU SUPPOSE PORTER ROCKWELL SERVED ON?
- Exploring, hunting, & logging.
- Other groups were sent to California to make contact with the members
of the Church there, Fort Hall to obtain provisions, others back on the
trail to assist the big company that was following.
- The government of the colony for the next year was placed in the hands
of a stake presidency and high council.
- They were appointed by members of the Quorum of the Twelve and approved
by the congregation.
- They also appointed a clerk, a watermaster, surveyor, and marshall.
- Return To Winter Quarters.
- As life in the valley was getting organized, preparation was made for
the return of some of the pioneers to Winter Quarters to assist in the
- A number of the battalion men were anxious to return to their families.
- August 16: A company of pioneers and battalion men were organized and
met at the mouth of Emigration Canyon.
- This group included 24 pioneers, 46 battalion members, in 34 wagons.
- They primarily used oxen and proved that oxen made the better team
for crossing the plains. The second party was unable to catch up with this
group, even though they waited days on the Platte.
- August 26: The second company of pioneers and battalion members began
the trek back to Winter Quarters.
- This company consisted of 107 persons. They were unable to take many
provisions with them, because those were needed in the valley. They would
depend primarily on fish and game.
- This company included Brigham Young, Heber Kimball, and five others
of the apostles. Ezra T. Benson had been sent ahead in early August to
meet the following pioneer company. None of the Twelve were left in the
- This leadership needed to return to organize the Saints for migration
in 1848 and the succeeding years. There were 16,000 Saints now waiting
in Winter Quarters.
- In early September, Brigham's company met the first of the following
companies, this one headed by Parley P. Pratt. A couple days later they
met up with John Taylor's company.
- Also, several inches of snow fell causing some concern about the climate
they were moving into.
- The good sisters prepared a feast for the returning pioneers. 130 were
served on improvised tables covered with snow white linen and glittering
tableware. They were served game, fish, fruits, jellies, and relishes.
- The preparations for the feast were made a surprise. They knew nothing
of the feast until Elder Taylor led them through a natural opening in the
bushes fringing the enclosure.
- When supper was cleared away, there was dancing to violin. They danced
Scotch-reels, French-fours, and other such dances. There were also songs
- Wrote John Taylor: "We felt mutually edified and blessed, we
praised the Lord and blessed one another."
- September 9: The pioneer companies had about 50 horses stolen by the
Indians, which were needed by the Saints heading both directions.
- In an attack, a few days later, the Indians attempted to steal more
horses by charging on the encampment of the President Young's returning
party. The brethren were prepared and only a few horses were taken.
- The Indians then claimed that they had mistaken the white men for a
camp of Crow or Snake Indians, with whom they were at war. They invited
Brigham Young to come to their camp and smoke the peace pipe. He did not,
but Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and Stephen Markham did go with
the Indians and participated in the ceremony and were allowed to pick out
their seven or eight horses from a herd of 1,000. They also saw some of
the previous 50 horses that had been stolen.
- After President Young's party left Fort Laramie heading east, the teams
became constantly weaker and the food in the camp was often exhausted.
- October 18: They were met my a company of 16 men with 3 wagons from
Winter Quarters coming to assist them.
- When they reached the Elkhorn, they were met by a company of 20 wagons
led by Bishop Newel K. Whitney, bringing food and grain in abundance. A
few days later President Young's company arrived back in Winter Quarters.
- The First Winter In The Great Basin.
- October 10: The last of the 1847 pioneer companies arrives in the Salt
- There were a total of 11 arriving companies in 1847, totaling just
over 2,000 emigrants.
- Many returned to Winter Quarters leaving 1681 persons to spend the
first winter in the Salt Lake.
- The emigrants had constructed a one block, enclosed area to house and
protect the pioneers. This was known as "old fort. It was soon discovered
that it would not be sufficient to hold the large number entering the valley
in 1847 and they constructed two additional forts, one on the north and
one on the south.
- The houses were made with adobe or logs. The roofs consisted of poles,
brush, and earth. Because they believed the climate was so dry, the roofs
were made too flat and when the winter and early spring rains fell, they
- This first winter was fairly mild, but food shortages developed.
- Too many had been allowed to join the second contingent which left
Winter Quarters in 1847.
- Cattle & horses got into the planted acreage & destroyed everything
but the potatoes.
- Indians, wolves & "other destroyers" made off with a
lot of livestock.
- A voluntary rationing system of 1/2 lb. of flour/day was instituted.
- The greens and roots of the thistle were used as well as the sego roots.
There were a few deaths from eating poisonous roots, chiefly the wild parsnip.
- Priddy Meeks wrote of conditions: "My family went several months
without a satisfying meal of victuals. I went sometimes a mile up Jordan
to a patch of wild roses to get the berries to eat which I would eat as
rapidly as a hog, stems and all. I shot hawks and crows and they ate well.
I would go and search the mire holes and find cattle dead and fleece off
what meat I could and eat it. We used wolf meat, which I thought was good.
I made some wooden spades to dig seagoes [Sego Lily] with, but we could
not supply our wants. "We had to exert ourselves to get something
to eat. I would take a grubbing-hoe and a sack and start by sunrise in
the morning and go, I thought six miles before coming to where the thistle
roots grew, and in time to get home I would have a bushel and sometimes
more thistle roots. And we would eat them raw. I would dig until I grew
faint and sit down and eat a root, and then begin again. I continued this
until the roots began to fail." (Great Basin Kingdom, p49)
- CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT YOUR KIDS WOULD SAY WHEN THEY OPENED THE REFRIGERATOR
AND FOUND LEFTOVER CROW AND A FEW THISTLE ROOTS? WAS THIS SACRIFICE WORTH
IT? WHAT ARE WE WILLING TO SACRIFICE FOR THE KINGDOM?
- Spring 1848.
- As the winter wheat and garden vegetables began to spring up, a late
frost injured a considerable portion of the crop. This was to be the crop
for the harvest of 1848.
- In May and June, hoards of hungry crickets came down from the mountains
to feast upon the fresh fields.
- A battle was waged against the crickets using every available tool
including sticks, shovels, brooms, and gunny sacks. All this was done with
little success. The "Black Philistines" as the crickets were
called, "mowed their way even with the ground, leaving it as if
touched with an acid or burnt by fire." (Great Basin Kingdom,
- Holes were dug several feet across. The crickets were surrounded by
women and children and driven into them and buried, bushels at a time.
It was done again and again, but seemed not to affect the numbers of these
- Ditches were plowed around the wheat fields, filled with water, carried
to the running streams, and drowned the pests by the hundreds of thousands.
- Fire was tried. There was nothing the Saints could do to stop them.
Wrote B.H. Roberts: "He might as well try to sweep back the rising
tide of the ocean with a broom as prevail against these swarming pests
by the methods tried." (CHC 3:331)
- HOW DO YOU SUPPOSE THESE SAINTS FELT, THEY WHO HAD SACRIFICED THEIR
HOMES AND LIVED ON THE EDGE OF STARVATION?
- As the battle was being lost the President of the High Council announced:
"Brethren, we do not want you to part with your wagons and teams
for we might need them." The indication was that the Saints might
pull out and move to more hospitable country (such as California).
- At the moment this announcement was issued, those famous seagulls swept
in and began to devour the bugs. Wrote Priddy Meeks, "I guess this
circumstance changed our feeling considerable for the better."
- There were still many that questioned the validity of staying in the
Valley. Brigham Young's brother want to send an express to Brigham telling
him to not bring any more Saints for "they would all starve to
- Church Business - Winter Quarters.
- Back on the Missouri, it was decided to vacate Winter Quarters in the
- Indian agents had been encouraging the Saints to remove themselves
from the lands of the Omaha Indians.
- As many of its inhabitants as possible were to prepare to go to the
Salt Lake valley.
- Those who couldn't were to move to the east side of the river, to Kanesville,
now known as Council Bluffs.
- In a letter from the Twelve, all Saints were called to gather with
the Church in the Great Basin.
- The Saints in the British Isles were called to come immediately.
- The rich were to help the poor in their efforts to gather to "Zion".
- The First Presidency was reorganized at a meeting of the Twelve on
December 5, 1847, at Winter Quarters.
- Nine of the Twelve were present at this meeting: Brigham Young was
sustained as president with Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as counselors.
- The First Presidency was sustained three weeks later, at a conference
of the Church in Winter Quarters.
- Father John Smith, uncle of Joseph and brother to the Prophet's father,
was chosen to be the presiding patriarch of the Church. At the time, John
Smith was presiding over the Saints in Salt Lake.
- There was a reemphasis on missionary work.
- Jesse C. Little was to return to the presidency of the Eastern States.
- John Brown was sent back to labor in the southern states.
- Orson Pratt was to preside over the missions in the British Isles.
- When Elder Pratt returned to England, the membership of the Church
there was reported at 17,902.
- Wilford Woodruff was sent to preside over the work in Canada.
- June 1, 1847: 623 wagons were assembled at the Elkhorn ferry ready
to move west in two great encampments, one led by Brigham Young, the other
by Heber C. Kimball.
- In July, a third encampment of 300 wagons form under the leadership
of Willard Richards and Amasa M. Lyman.
- The Winter Of 1848-49.
- The Arrival of More Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.
- October 11: The last of the three companies arrived in the Salt Lake
- Approximately 2,400 Saints arrived with these three companies, raising
the population of the valley to near 5,000.
- This is a staggering number when one considers the ordeal of near starvation
during the previous winter.
- I'm reminded of a computer simulation I had several years ago titled
- The Goal: To care for and feed an ever increasing number of people
by increasing agricultural acreage.
- It was difficult to keep the increasing the available food to meet
the demands of the ever increasing population.
- The simulation was made even more challenging with plagues, invading
Berbers, failing crops, and rat infestations.
- The Saints were living a real life Hamurrabi.
- The Council of Fifty.
- The High Council continued to govern in a municipal capacity until
- The Council of Fifty operated in a significant behind-the-scenes capacity
from November 1848 to January 1850.
- WHAT WAS THE COUNCIL OF FIFTY?
- John D. Lee stated that this council constituted "the Municipal
department of the Kingdom of God set up on the Earth, and from which all
Law emanates . . . to council, deliberate & plan for the general good
& upbuilding of the Kingdom of God on the earth."
- Leonard Arrington wrote: "Apparently, the basic decisions relating
to economic affairs in the second year were made by the Council of Fifty
and then announced and executed as seemed best, by the High Council, the
First Presidency, the general conference, or citizens' mass meetings. The
Council of Fifty was essentially an arrangement whereby the 'leading citizens'
would freely discuss and agree upon policies and procedures, and these
men would then bend their efforts to achieve these results in the various
civic and church groups in which they participated. Its regulations--or,
rather, the combined regulations of the High Council, the bishops, and
the church--centered primarily around the distribution of land, the control
over natural resources, the construction of public works, the provision
of a circulating medium, and the prevention of hunger and want." (GBK,
- Probably the most significant action of the Council of 50 was the formation
for a provisional government for the proposed "State of Deseret".
- WHAT WAS THE STATE OF DESERET?
- The proposed territory included all of current Utah, all of Nevada,
southern California from the Mexican border north to almost Los Angeles,
two thirds of Arizona, the northwest corner of New Mexico, Colorado west
of the Rockies, southwestern Wyoming, a little of southern Idaho, and chunk
of southeast Oregon.
- The political arm of the Council of 50 continued to govern until the
establishment of the Utah Territory in 1851 and as a "ghost government"
until the 1870s.
- Policies For Governing The Territory.
- After the arrival of Brigham Young, a number of policies were worked
out to deal with the increasing numbers of people entering the valley.
- Policies on land distribution were fine tuned.
- Control of water & timber.
- The policy, as stated by Brigham Young, was: "There shall be
no private ownership of the streams that come out of the canyons, nor the
timber that grows on the hills. These belong to the people: all the people."
- This was an essential policy as irrigation became increasingly important
to the agriculture of the region.
- Construction of public works.
- One day in ten was donated and one-tenth of their production. Such
works included a wall around the Temple Block, building of a Council House,
a small adobe church-office building, public bathhouse at Warm Springs,
an armory, and bowery on the temple block large enough to hold 3,000 persons.
There was also a Church Farm of 800 acres utilized for producing food for
- Provision for a circulating medium.
- Much of the early trade was based on gold dust and a paper currency
was issued backed by the gold.
- On January 2, 1849, 830 notes were issued with a total value of $1,365.
Bore the signature of Brigham Young & Heber C. Kimball and stamped
with the private seal of the Twelve Apostles.
- Also, 256 notes of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank were placed in
circulation (value $1,331). These and other notes were secured by a 80%
reserve of gold.
- This fulfilled a prophecy by Joseph Smith that one day the Kirtland
notes would be as good as gold.
- The Challenge Of The Second Winter.
- Again, the Saints faced a winter of food shortages. The second winter
was far more severe that the first.
- Snow & severe cold made the food shortage worse as cattle and other
animals were killed more frequently by predators.
- The Council of 50 sponsored a hunt in which 800 wolves, 400 foxes,
2 wolverines, 2 bears, 2 wildcats, and 37 minx were killed. Also, hawks,
owls, eagles, and crows.
- One dollar in tithing was offered on a continuing basis for each wolf
and fox skin.
- As in the previous year most were satiate their hunger with rawhides,
sego roots, and thistles.
- Council of 50 instituted a regulation prohibiting the use of corn in
- Church officials wrote back to Winter Quarters indicating that emigrants
should not be allowed to come to Salt Lake without sufficient provisions
for the next winter.
- The city was divided into 19 wards and the bishop was instructed to
provide for the poor in their wards.
- Each person with a surplus was asked to turn it over to the bishop
for distribution among the needy.
- Consideration was given to the poor in the matter of taxes.
- The Council of 50 appointed Albert Carrington as assessor, collector,
and treasurer, "with...discretionary power, to pin down upon the
rich and penurious, and when he comes to a Poor man or widow that is honest,
instead of taxing them, give them a few dollars."
- Next Week: Building The Kingdom - Part II.