'Dancing like ancient Israel'

This is another in a weekly series of day-by-day summaries of what transpired 150 years ago during the Saints' 1846-47 trek from Nauvoo, Ill., to the Salt Lake Valley. The compiler, Alexander L. Baugh is an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU.

Sunday, Jan. 31, 1847:

Weather conditions improved at Winter Quarters. Hosea Stout wrote, "Today was one of the most mild and beautiful days in all nature, being very warm, clear,

andT pleasant." He further noted, "The cattle could be seen strolling around town & seemed to be enjoying life with some degree of comfort after their long chill."

Elder Wilford Woodruff preached in two wards, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon, then attended an evening meeting with the high council and the bishops. The energetic apostle also experienced a night with little sleep. "I watched with Sister Sheets in the latter part of the night," he wrote. "She died at 30 minutes past 3 o clock."

Brigham Young fell ill with the effects of a severe cold.

Monday, Feb. 1:

Several leadership groups held meetings during the day. Those who had been appointed captains of hundreds met in the Council House and appointed the captains of tens. The 22 bishops and their counselors also met in a five-hour meeting where each bishopric gave an accounting concerning its ward. The Twelve met in the evening and transacted several matters of business. Brigham Young remained ill and was not present. However, following the meeting, Willard Richards met privately with the president in his cabin and went over a number of business matters needing his attention.

Tuesday, Feb. 2:

Brigham Young remained ill at home for the third consecutive day, but received Elders Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, and Wilford Woodruff who met with him to discuss Church-related business. Harrison Burgess arrived from Missouri carrying 65 letters and several newspapers and packages.

Wednesday, Feb. 3:

Still ill but recovering, President Young attended a party held in the Council House for the Young family, including brothers John, Phineas, Joseph and Lorenzo, and their families.

William Clayton, one of Brigham's clerks and a member of William Pitt's band was present on the occasion and wrote that President Young appeared "quite sick and seemed very low spirited."

Eliza R. Snow noted that there were approximately 100 present, and "we supp'd at a table that would have done honor to a better cultivated country." The evening's activities were spent in "cheerful dancing till about two in the morning, when the party broke up in the best of spirits and good feelings," wrote Brother Clayton.

Thursday, Feb. 4:

This day marked the one-year anniversary since the first wagons left Nauvoo and crossed the Mississippi River, thus beginning the Mormon exodus. The day came and went without fanfare in Winter Quarters.

With his health almost back to normal, President Brigham Young, along with Heber C. Kimball and Amasa Lyman, met with the members of the high council.

Friday, Feb. 5:

In a meeting of the Twelve, company leaders George A. Smith, Amasa Lyman, Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff reported to President Young on the progress and organization of their respective companies. Brigham Young reported, "It was voted that my company be called the first division and Elder Kimball's the second division of the Camp of Israel."

At 3 p.m. the Twelve adjourned to the Council House where they were invited to participate in the "Silver Gray Picnic" - a dinner-dance, organized by Father John Smith, the Prophet Joseph Smith's uncle, held for the men and women over age 50 living in Winter Quarters. President Young was so pleased about the entire occasion that he remarked, "Dance all night, if you desire to do so, for there is not harm in it." Following a few remarks from Father Smith, the floor was cleared and the dancing began. Eliza R. Snow remarked that it was "a very crowded & interesting party," while President Young recorded, "It was indeed an interesting and novel sight to behold the old men and women, some nearly an hundred years old, dancing like ancient Israel."

At the San Luis Rey Mission in California, the Mormon Battalion members were ordered to shave their beards and trim their hair. For a number of men, this was quite a sacrifice since there were many who had not shaved since the beginning of their enlistment and preferred not to until they returned to their families. In spite of their opposition, the men were obliged to shave their facial hair (although moustaches were permitted) and trim their hair above their ears.

Saturday, Feb.6:

Sickness continued to strike Winter Quarters. Wilford Woodruff became ill, apparently contracting some of the same maladies experienced by President Young earlier in the week. "I spent this day at home," he wrote. "Was quite unwell."

Sources: An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, p. 294; A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War, pp. 263-65; The Diary of Hosea Stout, pp. 233-35; "Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young," Utah Historical Quarterly 14 (1946):155; "Extracts From the Journal of Henry Bigler," Utah Historical Quarterly 5:57; Journal History of the Church; "The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, With the Mormon Battalion," Utah Historical Quarterly 4:87; The March of the Mormon Battalion, p. 209; Manuscript History of Brigham Young, pp. 519-21; Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, pp. 154-55; Winter Quarters: The 1846-1848 Life Writings of Mary Haskin Parker Richards, p. 108; Wilford Woodruff's Journal 3:125-26.

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