Camp of Israel: On the pioneer trail: Revised plan presented

Sunday, April 12, 1846:

Brigham Young conducted a significant council at Heber C. Kimball's encampment. All the apostles in the Camp of Israel, the camp's two bishops (Newell K. Whitney and George Miller), and about 35 other men attended the meeting. Brigham Young and his advisers had been contemplating a specific course of action for days. President Young took occasion to lay out the details of the revised plan:- Certain men, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, should proceed forward quickly to the Grand River and establish a farming settlement.

Selected men and families would fence in a field two miles square, build about 20 log cabins, plow the land, and plant spring crops at this way station.

About 100 wagons would quickly move on to the Missouri River with the intent to cross to the mountains in the late spring.

The bulk of the Camp of Israel would remain in the Locust Creek vicinity until the way station was set up; in the meantime the cattle could browse on the grass that was beginning to sprout

Scouts would be directed to find the best routes from Nauvoo to Locust Creek and on to the Grand River so that the thousands who still would follow would not run into the same hazards as the earlier companies. According to this plan, the majority of the Camp of Israel would spend the next winter at either this Grand River site or on the Missouri River bottoms, where there would be food for the people and feed for the cattle.

A sacrament meeting was held later that afternoon in the Kimball encampment. Elder Kimball preached the necessity of unity and harmony with each other.

Monday, April 13:

The weather became pleasantly warm during the day. The council wrote a letter to Captains Elisha Averett and John Gleason instructing them not to build a bridge over the west fork of Locust Creek, but to complete their other contracts made with the nearby Iowans. They were to leave behind as much corn as they could spare. Then they were to proceed to Miller's Mills on the Grand River and take jobs where they could get flour and meal in payment.

Brigham Young rode west about six miles and found a good camping spot near the headwaters of Big Medicine Creek. About 3 p.m., the first company that included President Young began moving out and camped about a half mile west of the main camp.

Elder Wilford Woodruff, who had served as British Mission president from 1844-1846, arrived back in Nauvoo.

Tuesday, April 14:

The morning was fortunately clear again. Heber C. Kimball's company and many others caught up with President Young's group. Hosea Stout wrote, "It formed a beautiful sight to see so many waggons & tents together and could be seen for miles on the prairie."

Elder Woodruff in Nauvoo met with his fellow apostle Orson Hyde. They counseled about the difficulties the remaining saints had in preparing to join the Camp of Israel "in the wilderness." For the next several weeks Elders Hyde and Woodruff jointly would preside over the remaining Nauvoo Saints.

Wednesday, April 15:

This was a relatively quiet day with good weather at the main encampment. In the forenoon the fourth and fifth companies started to move westward. Two of the teams of the first company returned with 28 bushels of corn.

In this quietude, however, something monumental happened in the Camp of Israel that would leave an impact on all westwarding Latter-day Saints for the next 50 years and that still reverberates in song among all Latter-day Saints throughout the entire world. William W. Clayton composed verses to "Come, Come, Ye Saints" that would become the famous Mormon Pioneer anthem. (Please see April 6 Church News for feature article on William Clayton and the writing of "Come, Come Ye Saints.")

Thursday, April 16

On this warm and pleasant day the first, second, and third companies joined the fourth and fifth companies on the prairie at a camp the Saints called Rolling Prairie. The cattle had no feed except what grass they could graze upon. Eliza R. Snow reported, "The prairie begins to look green - the rattlesnakes make their appearance much to the annoyance of our horses & cattle, several of them having been bit in trying to allay their hungry appetites."

Another hardship also occurred as reported by Lorenzo Dow Young: "Crossed a creek and beheld a scene that was indescribable Some one had set fire in the long grass and we were almost surround by fire and it seemed as if there was no chance for retreat for the road behind us was blockaded with teams and the scene was awful but the men succeeded in putting out the fire with whips and water."

Friday, April 17:

It was cold and windy, but at least clear, on a day scheduled for much traveling. Most of the camp moved forward about six miles to Medicine Creek. Two little Boswick children died of measles. Many children also were suffering from that dreaded disease. Others had the mumps.

Saturday, April 18:

The weather was pleasant and the grass was plentiful. After all the displeasing muddy campsites of the past two months, it was decided to call this new camp Pleasant Point.

Brigham Young conducted another important council meeting of about 50 men. He indicated that the Spirit had whispered to him that the specific men needed to be chosen who would cross over the mountains. It was decided that those who were properly outfitted would be the group to make that historic journey.

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