Search continues for winter camp site

Sunday, Aug. 2, 1996:

Brigham Young's major preoccupation, as it had been for about a week, was to identify locations for more than 12,000 Saints in Iowa and Indian Territory west of the Missouri River (present-day Nebraska) to spend the winter. But for the rank and file members, they attended worship services if any were being held near them. They were held in Garden Grove, Mt. Pisgah, and Council Bluffs, Iowa, and at Cold Springs on the west side of the river.In the morning, on the west side of the Missouri River, President Young rode on his horse looking for a good possible route to the northwest. When he returned his council held a meeting. They received a favorable report from the Mormon Battalion from their messenger, Joseph Mathews. "All well and in good spirits. They were doing honor to the cause," recorded Wilford Woodruff. The council members prepared a letter to Col. Thomas Kane who was still at the Missouri River. They informed him of their decision to winter near the Missouri River rather than go to Grand Island or farther west.

The Mormon Battalion spent the day quietly at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., resting and enjoying their new tents.

Monday, Aug. 3:

President Young conducted another council meeting. The brethren directed most of their attention to the needs of the poor in the camps and the families of the soldiers. Many of them were on the east side of the river at Council Bluffs. Thus, the presidency (Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards) wrote Isaac Morley, president of the Council Bluffs settlement, with instructions. They directed that the poor be placed along side well-off families so that they would be guaranteed food and shelter. This was in harmony with Restoration scriptural injunctions that the Church take care of its own, according to Law of Consecration principles.

At Fort Leavenworth, the Mormon Battalion soldiers received their formal instructions and Companies A, B and C their equipment and uniform allowances. Abner Blackburn noted, "We had to be sworn into the service. The officer read the military law to us. It was death to desert and death for several other offences."

Tuesday, Aug. 4:

The exploration party that would be led by Brigham Young started northwest under the direction of Heber C. Kimball. President Young stayed behind until late in the afternoon. He responded to a letter received from Bishop George Miller, who directed a group of about 200 people at Pawnee Village about 110 miles to the northwest. Bishop Miller was appointed to be president of the high council for this settlement; the 12 men for the council were named in the letter.

At Fort Leavenworth, Companies D and E were outfitted and paid their uniform allowances. Elder Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor arrived at the fort. They had not intended to stop there, but the Spirit indicated that they should. The soldiers decided to give some of their pay to help these apostles on their way to their mission in England. Sgt. Tyler wrote, "The paymaster was much surprised to see every man able to sign his own name to the pay roll, as, according to a reliable journal in my possession, only about one in three of the Missouri volunteers, who drew their pay previously, could put his signature to that document."

Wednesday, Aug. 5:

Brigham Young's exploration party continued for a few more miles. President Young was especially paying attention to the availability of timber and water resources for a winter encampment.

Thursday, Aug. 6:

Brigham Young continued his exploration and his counseling with members of the Twelve about possible winter campsites. On this day, Elder Ezra T. Benson who had arrived at Mt. Pisgah in his travels back to the eastern states wrote a letter to Brigham Young. Elder Benson reported on Mt. Pisgah conditions: "There has been much sickness here and some bad cases, but many are recovering, although some are still feeble. The Saints here are enjoying peace and plenty; the crops are growing very fast and likely to produce abundantly."

Friday, Aug. 7:

Brigham Young and his council came to some significant conclusions today. They decided that everybody who would winter on the west side of the Missouri River should stay together and form a "city" that would be governed by a municipal high council. President Young said, "We will build a house for council and praying, and another for a schoolhouse; if the brethren wish to hear preaching they must stay at headquarters. We should be organized as one family, in order, and be in a compact body, build in a systematic order and keep clean, and build pounds for our cattle."

They also decided that the Saints on the east side of the Missouri come together into one settlement as well and for the same reasons. Thereupon President Young appointed Alpheus Cutler and eleven other men to preside over the western side.

The council members then left the meeting and went about in groups to identify the best potential encampment spots. By the end of the day a raised prairie location between two bluffs was chosen and approved. This location would receive the name of "Cutler's Park." It was 14 miles north of Cold Springs, the previous encampment, and three miles west of the Missouri River. (This did not turn out to be the permanent settlement known as "Winter Quarters," but on this day it was considered to be the permanent spot for the city.)

Meanwhile in the afternoon, President Young had a long conversation with Col. Thomas Kane. He outlined his plans for settling in the West. The Saints would settle somewhere in the Great Basin; those who went around by water would settle at San Francisco. "We would be glad to raise the American flag; we love the constitution of our country," he declared.

Elder Parley P. Pratt obtained a horse at Fort Leavenworth and started riding back to Church headquarters to deliver the Mormon soldiers' uniform allowance. "I rode with all speed," he wrote in his autobiography.

Saturday, Aug. 8:

In the morning, all the men who had gone on the exploring party began staking out a settlement at new approved location (Cutler's Park). A new city appeared to be in the making. A location for the public square was chosen.

In the afternoon, Willard Richards and Brigham Young took Thomas Kane with them for a carriage ride. Col. Kane had become ill, and they hoped they could help rejuvenate him.

Sources: Journal History; Manuscript History of Brigham Young, pp. 292-301; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:64-66; Life Writings of Mary Richards, p. 87; My Best For the Kingdom, p. 214; Leonard J. Arrington, "In Honorable Remembrance: Thomas L. Kane's Services to the Mormons," BYU Studies (21:4:389-98); Abner Blackburn's Narrative, pp. 39-40; A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion, p. 136-37; The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1:184; The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. 345; Life of a Pioneer, p. 29; Mormons at the Missouri, pp. 66-69;

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