D&C/CHURCH HISTORY - LESSON 47
CHALLENGES TO THE KINGDOM
- Introductory Comments.
- Indians In The Territory.
- The Saints happened to settle in the Salt Lake valley between the two
principle tribes of the region, who often were at war with each other:
- The Shoshones to the north.
- The Utes to the south.
- The Indian policy of Brigham Young was to leave the Indians alone.
He wrote the following to the colonists at Fort Utah: "Stockade
your fort and attend to your own affairs, and let the Indians take care
of theirs. Let your women and children stay in the fort, and the Indians
stay out.... You have been too familiar with them, your children have mixed
promiscuously with them, they have been free in your houses, and some of
the brethren have spent too much time in smoking and chatting with them;
and instead of teaching them to labor, such a course has encouraged them
in idleness and ignorance, the effects of which you begin to feel."
- The first conflict with the Indians occurred in early 1849. Some Indians
from Utah valley had run off fourteen head of horses from the Tooele valley.
It was reported that they had been stealing and killing cattle in other
- Captain John Scott a forty state militia went in pursuit of this raiding
band. They were located on a small stream emerging from the mountains and
surrounded during the night. The following morning, in battle with these
Indians, four of the Indians were killed. The stream they fought near became
known as Battle Creek. The area is now known as Pleasant Grove.
- The cause of occasional conflict between the Indians and settlers did
not always lay with the Indians. Consider this incident in Utah valley:
- The pioneers in Utah valley began their settlement at Fort Utah, in
what is now Provo.
- There was an Ute Indian in the area the settlers had come to call "Old
Bishop" because he somewhat resembled Bishop Newel K. Whitney.
- In 1850, three men from Fort Utah met Old Bishop some distance from
the fort. He was wearing a shirt which one of the men claimed to be his
own and demanded it. Old Bishop refused to give it up saying that he had
bought it. There was a struggle between the men for the shirt. In an effort
to defend himself, Old Bishop drew his bow, causing one of the men to shoot
- These men disemboweled the body and filled the cavity with stones,
sewed up, and thrown into the Provo River.
- The Utes, missing Old Bishop, instituted a search and found the body
in the shallows of the river. This incident led to the winter war of 1850
with the Indians.
- Challenges To The Kingdom.
- The Challenge For Survival.
- In the years 1849 through 1854 the harvests were abundant and continued
- Beginning in the summer of 1855 there were challenges and natural disasters
that wiped out the surplus and placed the 35,000 inhabitants in the same
position of semi-starvation as the early settlers.
- Grasshopper invasion: the worst insect invasion the settlers had encountered.
- One described the scene: "They would come suddenly, millions
of them and eat every green thing in their way; even shawls or sheets thrown
over plants or trees to protect them, would be quickly destroyed. They
would be found among the shirts, under a muslin dress, eating and destroying
anything.... They devastated hundreds of acres, and as they would rise
and fly high in the air, the air would be darkened with them. They seemed
to be massed together and to take but one direction, flying more than 8
or 10 miles and then settling upon another field of action." (GBK,
- Another wrote: "Everything was literally covered with them....
The air was full so that it appeared like a snow storm even to somewhat
obscuring the rays of the sun at times. They destroyed the most of the
crop taking in one night the heads of oats, the blades of corn, beans and
almost every green thing eating up the grass, etc." (GBK, p149)
- 1855 had the heaviest immigration since 1852. There were 4,225 new
- There was a late season drought due to a hot, dry summer nearly drying
up the streams..
- Harvest reduced from one-third to two-thirds depending on the locality.
- Due to the destruction of grazing areas by the grasshoppers and drought,
the cattle had to be moved high into the mountains or to other localities.
Many of the cattle were moved into Cache Valley.
- The winter of 1855-56 was the most severe yet encountered by the immigrants.
The bitter cold destroyed the greater part of the herds. 420 of the 2000
in the Church herd in Cache Valley survived.
- The Indians stole still more cattle.
- Heber C Kimball said that this winter was "more close"
than any they had yet experienced. Many resorted to pigweeds, thistle roots,
mustard leaves, and to mixtures of vegetables with bran.
- Action taken:
- Circulars issued by the Church.
- Encouragement to repair fences to keep livestock out of the fields,
cultivate every available piece of land (even those that aren't farmers),
keep your fields and gardens weeded, and impart liberally to those who
- Bishops advised to supervise the consumption of food in the wards and
organize gleaners to comb the fields.
- There is evidence that Church leaders may have encouraged the more
well-to-do members to add plural wives. Consider this strange account from
the life of Heber C. Kimball:
- "'Go and marry a wife,' was Heber's terse reply, after relieving
the immediate wants of the applicant. "Thunderstruck at receiving
such an answer at such a time, when he could hardly provide food for himself,
the man went his way, dazed and bewildered, thinking that President Kimball
must be out of his mind. But the more he thought of the prophetic character
and calling of the one who had given him this strange advice, the less
he felt like ignoring it. Finally he resolved to obey counsel, let the
consequences be what they might. But where was the woman who would marry
him, was the next problem. Bethinking himself of a widow with several children,
who he thought might be induced to share her lot with him, he mustered
up courage, proposed and was accepted. "In that widow's house was
laid up a six months' store of provisions!"
- Fast offerings were begun at this time. The members were asked to fast
for 24 hours on the first Thursday of the month and donate the food saved
to the bishop.
- Heads of families were asked to voluntarily place their families on
ration and use the surplus for feeding others.
- In introducing this program, Brigham Young said: "If you do
not pursue a righteous course, we will separate you from the Church. Is
that all? No. If necessary we will take your grain from your bin and distribute
it among the poor and needy, and they shall be fed and supplied with work,
and you shall receive what your grain is worth."
- Immigration affected: Due to the effects of the challenges of 1855,
tithing receipts were down, previous Perpetual Emigration Fund (PEF) emigrants
were unable to pay their commitments, and the Church's PEF herds had been
reduced significantly. Consequently, capital for the PEF was low.
- President Young continued to call for immigration. With insufficient
funds, the idea of using handcarts was raised. The idea for using handcarts
was actually introduced in a statement by the First Presidency issued in
- "O ye saints in the United States, will you listen to the voice
of `the Good Shepherd'? Will you gather? Will you be obedient to the heavenly
commandments? Many of you have been looking for, and expecting too much;
you have been expecting the time would come when you could journey across
the mountains in your fine carriages, your good wagons, and have all the
comforts of life that heart could wish; but your expectations are vain,
and if you wait for those things you will never come, and your faith and
hope will depart from you.... Families might start from the Missouri river,
with cows, handcarts, wheel-barrows, with little flour, and no unnecessaries,
and come to this place quicker, and with less fatigue, than by following
the heavy trains, with their cumbrous herds, which they are often obliged
to drive miles to feed. Do you not like this method of traveling? Do you
think salvation costs too much? If so, it is not worth having."
- The Handcart Pioneers.
- 1900 European Saints signed up to cross the plains with handcarts in
1856. They sailed from Liverpool to New York and Boston, took the railroad
to Iowa City, where they were outfitted for the journey.
- The handcarts were built at Iowa City. They were intended to service
four or five persons and carry about 100 pounds of food, clothing, and
- They were organized into companies of about 100 wagons with 400 to
- They traveled across Iowa to Florence, Nebraska, where they rested
before continuing the journey west to Salt Lake.
- Five handcart companies were organized in 1856.
- The Ellsworth company left on June 9. The McArthur company left on
June 11. A smaller company of Welsh converts, led by Edward Bunker, left
on June 23.
- These first three companies made it to the Salt Lake valley without
serious incident, although they had worked hard and were tired. The first
two companies arrived on September 26. Bunker's company arrived on October
- Upon the arrival of these companies, the brethren were pleased with
this experiment of using handcarts for less expensive and faster migration.
The Deseret News reported: "This journey has been performed with
less than the average amount of mortality attending ox trains; and all,
though somewhat fatigued, stepped out with alacrity to the last, and appeared
buoyant and cheerful. They had often traveled 25 and 30 miles in a day,
and would have come through in a much shorter time, had they not been obliged
to wait upon the slow motion of the oxen attached to the few wagons containing
the tents and groceries." (CHC 4:87)
- They did not know there were still two companies on the trail at this
time. Later in October an express group of immigration officials arrived
reporting that there were still a thousand handcart pioneers on the way.
Brigham Young immediately organized relief parties to carry food, clothing,
and wagons to immigrants.
- Two other companies were outfitted that year, one led by James G. Willie,
the other by Edward Martin.
- When the Saints in these companies arrived in Iowa City, they found
that their handcarts had not been built due to a misunderstanding between
the Liverpool and American agents. They had to wait until new carts were
built. The Willie company left Iowa City on July 15. The Martin company
didn't leave until July 28.
- There were additional delays at the Florence staging area. There were
concerns about traveling into the wilderness this late in the year, especially
from the experienced frontiersmen. The majority voted to leave. The Willie
company left the Missouri River on August 17 and the Martin company 10
- On October 1, the Willie company met Parley P. Pratt and a company
of missionaries heading eastward. This was Pratt's last mission as he was
killed in Arkansas seven months later.
- On the Sweetwater River, in Wyoming, they encountered extremely cold
weather and severe snow storms. They were cheered by news from two messengers
heading east that a supply train was on their way to meet them.
- The storms continued and these Saints sought shelter in hollows and
willow thickets to await the relief trains. Death became frequent. 15 died
in one day in the Willie company. Many suffered frostbite.
- The storms were also slowing the progress of the relief company. It
was so bad that the relief company went into encampment, awaiting the arrival
of the handcart company or the passing of the storm. They did not know
it, but they had camped only a few miles from the Willie company.
- They were so desperate, that Captain Willie with one companion started
westward in search of the relief trail. Fortunately, they found it and
three days later fourteen well loaded wagons arrived at the Willie encampment.
These handcart pioneers were not far from suffering extinction when the
relief train arrived. Eight of the wagons went on to aid the Martin company.
- Brother Chislett wrote of their arrival: "On the evening of
the third day after Captain Willie's departure, just as the sun was sinking
beautifully behind the distant hills, on an eminence, immediately west
of our camp, several covered wagons, each drawn by four horses, were seen
coming towards us. The news ran through the camp like wildfire, and all
who were able to leave their beds turned out en masse to see them. A few
minutes brought them sufficiently near to reveal our faithful captain slightly
in advance of the train. Shouts of joy rent the air; strong men wept until
tears ran freely down their furrowed and sunburnt cheeks, and little children
partook of the joy which some of them hardly understood, and fairly danced
around with gladness. Restraint was set aside in the general rejoicing,
and as the brethren entered our camp the sisters fell upon them and deluged
them with kisses. The brethren were so overcome that they could not for
some time utter a word, but in choking silence repressed all demonstration
of those emotions that evidently mastered them. Soon, however, feeling
was somewhat abated, and such a shaking of hands, such words of welcome,
and such invocation of God's blessing have seldom been witnessed! "
- 67 of 500 in the Willie company died and 135 of 576 in the Martin company,
about 1 in 5 between the two companies. With more than 200 dead, it was
a worse disaster than the Donner Party expedition.
- The Willie company arrived in Salt Lake on November 9. Brother Willie
wrote of their reception, "On our arrival, the bishops of the different
wards took every person who was not provided with a home to comfortable
quarters. Some had their hands and feet badly frozen but everything which
could be done to alleviate their suffering was done, and no want was left
unadministered to. Hundreds of the citizens flocked around the wagons on
our way through the city, cordially welcoming their brethren and sisters
to their mountain home." (CHC 4:94-95)
- The Martin company did not reach the Salt Lake valley until November
30. It was a Sunday and President Young was leading services in the old
Tabernacle. When President Young learned of their arrival, he spoke to
the congregation, "The afternoon meeting will be omitted, for I
wish the sisters to go home and prepare to give those who have just arrived
a mouthful of something to eat, and to wash them, and nurse them up....
Prayer is good, but when (as on this occasion) baked potatoes, and pudding,
and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place. Give every duty
its proper time and place.... I want you to understand that I desire this
people to nurse them up; we want you to receive them as your own children,
and to have the same feelings for them.... Now that the most of them are
here, we will continue our labors of love until they are able to take care
of themselves, and we will receive the blessing. You need not be distrustful
about that, for the Lord will bless this people." (CHC 4:100-101)
- The brethren still considered handcart migration a viable means of
bringing more Saints to the valleys. The disaster of the Willie and Martin
companies occurred because of their late start.
- Over the next four years, there were four additional companies that
came by handcart. Over the few years that handcarts were used, about 3,000
migrated to the valley pushing and pulling the carts.
- The Utah War.
- The XY Company:
- The XY Company: In 1855 plans were formulated for the Brigham Young
Express & Carrying Company (the XY Company).
- Reasons for its organization:
- To provide way stations & supply depots to the handcart companies
and other immigrants.
- To provide speedy overland passenger service.
- To provide a freight service necessary to supply the increasing needs
of the expanding company at a reasonable price.
- The need for a regular & dependable mail service.
- In October 1856, a four year mail contract was awarded to Hiram Kimball
for monthly mail service between Independence and Salt Lake City.
- The contract had previously been cancelled for one W.M.F McGraw. Brigham
Young then had Kimball transfer the contract to the trustee-in-trust and
the XY Company went to work. Service between Independence and Ft. Laramie
was under the direction of John Murdock & William A. Hickman. Ft. Laramie
to Salt Lake City under was under the direction of Porter Rockwell.
- July 18, 1857: While Porter Rockwell was attending to business for
the XY Company near Ft. Laramie, he met Abraham Smoot (mayor of Salt Lake/also
in charge of mail service going east in June) and Judson Stoddard coming
west with mail company stock.
- Brother's Smoot and Stoddard carried grim news:
- On July 1, they attempted to pickup the mail from the postmaster in
Independence and were refused.
- They learned that an order to cancel the Mormon contract had been issued
on July 10.
- They also learned that a large consignment of federal troops were being
sent to Utah to install another governor and bring other federal officials.
- Brother Smoot had ordered all the company's stock and station outfits
east of Fort Laramie to return to Utah.
- They left the stock they were bring west at Fort Laramie. Along with
Porter, they rigged up a small, fast wagon and left for Utah immediately
to report the news to President Young. Porter drove the wagon, averaging
around 100 miles per day, arriving in Utah five days later.
- This same day, the first of 2,500 federal troops left Fort Leavenworth
under orders from the Secretary of War, John B. Floyd.
- Floyd's order read: "The community and, in part, the civil
government of Utah Territory are in a state of substantial rebellion against
the laws and authority of the United States. A new civil governor is about
to be designated, and to be charged with the establishment and maintenance
of law and order. Your able and energetic aid, with that of the troops
to be placed under your command, is relied upon to insure the success of
- Command of this force was given to Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston.
- Within two months, the entire force of 5,000 federal troops were on
their way to Utah.
- July 23: Rockwell, Smoot, and Stoddard arrived in Salt Lake.
- They were unable to locate President Young. They learned that Brigham
and thousands of the Saints were up Big Cottonwood Canyon celebrating the
tenth anniversary of the Saints arrival in the valley.
- They were joined by the postmaster and continued up the canyon to brief
President Young on the news. After learning of the coming federal troops,
President Young announced the news to the assembled Saints and then encouraged
them to continue the celebration. The following day they returned to their
- WHY DID SECRETARY FLOYD, WITH THE BLESSING OF PRESIDENT BUCHANAN, SEND
THIS ARMED FORCE TO UTAH?
- Activities of the XY Company. W.M.F. Magraw was unhappy when the mail
contract was taken from him and awarded to Kimball. McGraw wrote a letter
of complaint to Washington. Magraw ended up with a substantial contract
to supply the expedition.
- A letter from Thomas Twiss complained that the XY Company was upsetting
relations with the Plains Indians.
- Gentile businessmen in Utah were not happy because much of the business
in Utah was being directed to Mormon merchants.
- National institutions & customs must be made to prevail in Utah.
Government should not be dominated by the church. Polygamy had been openly
advocated since 1852.
- Leonard Arrington said: "The campaign against Mormonism was
part and parcel of the rising national campaign for private property, the
free market, competition, and unrestrained enterprise."
- Actions taken by the Saints.
- Heber C. Kimball felt passionate about these events: "I have
been driven five times--been broken up and my goods robbed from me, and
I have been afflicted almost to death.... Send 2,500 troops here, our brethren,
to make a desolation of this people! God Almighty helping me, I will fight
until there is not a drop of blood in my veins." (JD 5:90,96)
- President Young said: "Would it not make any man or community
angry to endure and reflect upon the abuse our enemies have heaped upon
us, and are still striving to pour out upon God's people?" (JD
- President Young issued the following declaration:
- "The issue which has been thus forced upon us compels us to
resort to the great first law of self-preservation and stand in our own
defense, a right guaranteed unto us by the genius of the institutions of
our country, and upon which the government is based. "Our duty to
ourselves, to our families, requires us not to tamely submit to be driven
and slain, without an attempt to preserve ourselves. Our duty to our country,
our holy religion, our God, to freedom and liberty, requires that we should
not quietly stand still and see those fetters forging around, which are
calculated to enslave and bring us in subjection to an unlawful military
despotism such as can only emanate (in a country of constitutional law)
from usurpation, tyranny and oppression. "Therefore, I, Brigham Young,
governor, and superintendent of Indian affairs for the territory of Utah,
in the name of the people of the United States in the territory of Utah,
"1st--Forbid all armed forces, of every description, from coming into
this territory under any pretense whatever. "2d--That all the forces
in said territory hold themselves in readiness to march, at a moments'
notice, to repel any and all such invasion. "3d--Martial law is hereby
declared to exist in this territory, from and after the publication of
this proclamation; and no person shall be allowed to pass or repass into,
or through, or from this territory, without a permit from the proper officer.
"Given under my hand and seal at Great Salt Lake City, territory of
Utah, this fifteenth day of September, A. D., Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-seven,
and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-second."
- Nauvoo Legion was mustered into full service with a force of about
- Small forces were sent to harass the troops by stampeding the animals,
setting fire to supply trains, burn the country around them, keeping them
from sleeping by night surprises, blocking the road by felling trees or
- The directive stated: "Take no life, but destroy their trains,
and stampede or drive away their animals, at every opportunity."
- One incident: Porter Rockwell led five men on a raid.
- They approached the camp at 2:00 AM. The charged into the campsite
on horseback riding between rows of tents so the soldiers would not fire,
afraid that they might shoot each other.
- They caused a ruckus by screaming, clanging bells, and firing weapons.
- They went on and tried to stampede the whole herd of mules. This was
difficult because many of the mules were tied down or hobbled.
- Among those who contracted with the army to drive the supply wagons
were 11 year old "Buffalo Bill" William F. Cody and "Wild
Bill" James B. Hickok.
- The "raiders" were successful in destroying dozens of wagons
and the supplies they carried. 1,400 of the 2,000 head of cattle were captured
and taken to Salt Lake. These cattle were later returned.
- Men were stationed on the mountains above Echo Canyon. They dug trenches
above the canyon, constructed breastworks, and then filled them with boulders
that could be loosed into the canyon at the passing army.
- They burned the two expensive outposts of Fort Bridger and Fort Supply.
The loss to the Saints for this policy was in excess of $52,000.
- Mobilization was affected when the missionaries throughout the world
were called home and several outlying outposts were abandoned such as Carson
Valley and San Bernardino.
- Mormon policies were successful to the point of causing the troops
to stop for the winter near Fort Bridger (which had been burned).
- At this point in time, most Mormon troops were withdrawn from Echo
- The Mormon's did not wish to fight and adverse publicity put Buchanan
in a mood for compromise. Thomas Kane arranged a compromise between the
Saints and the government.
- Governor Cummings to be allowed to assume the governorship without
a military escort.
- Federal troops to march through, but not remain in the Salt Lake Valley.
The army was upset with this turn, they wanted to fight.
- President Buchanan to issue a full and free pardon.
- Preparations by the Saints for entry of the army into the territory.
- 30,000 saints living north of Utah Valley and their food supplies were
moved south to Utah, Juab, Millard, or Iron Counties. Only a few remained
to irrigate crops, guard property, and be prepared to set fire to Salt
Lake and the other settlements.
- Wrote John R. Young: "At Parowan, two hundred miles south of
Salt Lake City, we encountered a scene that I shall never forget. I remember
distinctly, the 'Exodus,' as it was called, from Nauvoo, when sixteen thousand
souls left their homes and commenced that marvelous journey of fourteen
miles to the unknown valley of the Salt Lake. But that exodus was like
a small rivulet by the side of a mighty river when compared with the seventy-five
thousand [possibly 30,000] men, women, and children that we now met in
on continuous line of travel.... At times we were compelled to drive our
wagon for miles outside the beaten road, everywhere hearing and seeing
evidences that increased my gentile companions' wonderment of the marvelous
power held by Brigham Young over his people." (GBK, p187)
- This exodus occupied a two month period, being completed in mid-May
- The troops marched through the vacant Salt Lake City on June 26, 1858.
- One correspondent regarded the scene as "one of the most extraordinary"
in American History. All day long, he wrote, from dawn till after sunset,
the troops and trains poured through the city, the utter silence of the
streets being broken only by the music of the military bands, the monotonous
tramp of the regiments, and the rattle of baggage wagons. (GBK, p192)
- June 30: the announcement was made allowing all to return to their
homes. Two months later the 30,000 had returned to their homes. The difficulties
of the last few years had left many of the Saints destitute.
- One soldier wrote: "They were wretched-looking beings, --men,
women, boys, and girls, old and young, halt and blind, without shoes or
stockings, ragged and dirty, though some of the young girls had endeavored
to make as respectable an appearance as possible, by making garments out
of corn sacks. They were driving a number of animals, consisting of cows,
sheep, and pigs. The were very demure, and manifested no resentment at
- Wrote Leonard Arrington: "The picture of 30,000 pioneers trudging
back to their hard-won homes, farms, and orchards, with their skimpy and
ragged suits and dresses, driving their pigs and family cows, to the accompaniment
of jeers from 'the cream of the United States Army' would live long in
the hearts and minds of pioneer leaders. None would have dreamed that within
three years Babylon itself would be engulfed in a terrible fratricide as
the result of which the tables would be reversed: Soldiers would be pulled
out of Utah leaving to the Saints the spoils." (GBK, p194)
- Certainly the thoughts of many must have been, "How much more
will we be required to pass through?"
- Growth & Challenges.