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Hunger gnaws at saints

Sunday, May 3:

At 10 a.m. the Saints at Garden Grove gathered for a Sabbath meeting. Brigham Young delivered a poignant address. He said while he had been caring so diligently after the needs of the Camp of Israel he had lost a lot of weight. "I am reduced in flesh so that my coat that would scarcely meet around me last Winter now laps over twelve inches. It is with much ado that I can keep from lying down and sleeping to wait the resurrection." He urged the Saints to be more united and "feel after each other's cares and bear each other's burdens." During his talk he made plain that the word of the Lord "is, for this people to plant at this place [Garden Grove], [to] go ahead and plant again [at another way station]." In the afternoon the rain fell in torrents for two hours.

Monday, May 4:

Finally the Saints enjoyed a dry, pleasant day. Rain had fallen each of the last eight days. The good weather allowed the men to fence in the north end of the Garden Grove farm. Brigham Young's council wrote a letter to the Pioneer Company a few miles southeast in northern Missouri: "Wisdom and prudence say that it would be advisable for all the Pioneers to come up to the settlements immediately that we are making and assist us to put in crops. One day well spent at this season will be more to the interest and benefit of this people than one month would be out of season of planting." President Young, a day earlier, had urged these men to trade off their feather beds and other nice things for livestock and grain. This was necessary counsel because the Camp of Israel was dangerously low on grain and meal.

Tuesday, May 5:

The day was again dry allowing for more diligent and productive labor at Garden Grove. Brigham Young himself used an axe to split logs for the bridge across the river. Eliza R. Snow recorded, "The brethren exhibit their good disposition in obeying the instructions of last Sunday, which were that all should go to work to start this plantation."

Wednesday, May 6:

After two days of dry weather, the heavens opened again with rain all through the night. It stopped raining in the morning, so the brethren got back to work on the fences. Some men worked on nearly empty stomachs, however, because food was hard to come by. About 4 in the afternoon, a violent windstorm hit the Camp of Israel blowing over everything in its path. Many trees toppled over and fell on one cow and one mule. The camp's history records that "almost every man, woman and child were engaged in holding down the tents." In 10 or 15 minutes of the gale, a heavy thundershower hit, accompanied by hail. Hosea Stout reported in his diary that at the end of the day he and his sick family were entirely out of food.

Thursday, May 7:

There was another light shower today. Joy reached the hungry camp in the afternoon when a team returned from northern Missouri with 35 bushels of wheat and four bushels of meal! It was also noted that a number of horses had been bitten by rattlesnakes; two had already died.

Friday, May 8:

On this pleasant morning the newly arrived flour and meal was distributed throughout Garden Grove to the hungry exiles. Trading commissaries busied themselves, gathering up beds, harnesses, saddles, and other goods to trade in northern Missouri for cows, etc. The fence around the south field was completed.

Back in Illinois, Andrew Ray, a respected farmer, was dragged from his house by a band of ruffians and jabbed in the skin repeatedly by ox goads. Brother Ray had been trying to sell his farm, but the mobsters decided to drive him away before he could dispose of it for money. Other Mormons in the vicinity were being likewise harassed at this time.

Hundreds of Nauvoo Saints had, indeed, left during the week. James S. Brown recorded in his memoirs: "About the 8th of May we crossed the great father of waters' and joined therolling kingdom' on its westward journey. We found friends and acquaintances, made up a company of our own, and passed and were repassed on the trip. Climbing an eminence from which we looked east and west, covered wagons could be seen as far as the eye could reach."

Hosea Stout, the captain of the guards, took a walk in the woods. He recorded pathetically in his journal: "I was sent for and informed that my little son Hyrum was dying. I returned immediately home and found the poor little afflicted child in the last agonies of death. He died in my arms about four o'clock. This was the second child which I had lost both dying in my arms. He died with the hooping cough & black canker." Brother Stout explained that the lack of food had worn down his 2-year-old little boy as well as his wife. "We are truly desolate and afflicted and entirely destitute of any thing even to eat much less to nourish the sick."

Saturday, May 9:

This was fortunately another day without rain. Captain Stephen Markham superintended the quick raising of four log houses in Garden Grove adjacent to the south field.

Sources: Journal History; MHBY, pp. 149-57; The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, p. 131-32; The Journals of William Clayton, p. 273-74; The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1:159-60; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:42-47; James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer, p. 21.

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