Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Faith in Every Footstep



**Scripture references have been highlighted in red and hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window. Resources have been highlighted in blue.  All References and videos have been hyperlinked at the end of the blog. 
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PLEASE VIEW THE POWERFUL VIDEOS OF THE MORMON PIONEERS AT THE END OF THIS BLOG.  

“I left Nauvoo for the last time perhaps in this life. I looked upon the temple & city of Nauvoo as I retired from it & felt to ask the Lord to preserve it as a monument of the sacrifice of his Saints”  Wilford Woodruff Age 39, May 1846, exodus across Iowa. Trail journal. 

Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton wrote the following summation of the trek west:


"Historians have called the Mormon migration the best-organized movement of people in American history. Unlike other contemporary journeys to the Far West, it was religiously motivated. The Mormons went without guides and professional outfitters employed by most westering emigrants. A poverty-stricken band of people, in many cases unable to outfit themselves properly, the Saints were not frontiersmen; they were artisans, farmers, businessmen, and clerks. The organization and cohesion of the Mormons was in marked contrast to 'the process of disruption that prevailed so generally' in overland trail movements. Unique to the Mormons were the planting and building for the benefit of those to come later, sending back from Salt Lake City relief and supply parties to aid others on the last and toughest part of the route, and establishing a Perpetual Emigrating Fund to finance the poverty-stricken so that they could make the journey and pay later. The entire community of Nauvoo, a whole culture, was transported to a completely uninhabited location. Other frontier communities either drew slowly, adding a few families at a time until local government and trade became possible, or materialized overnight in the boom-bust syndrome of the mining exploitation of the West. In contrast, Salt Lake Valley was, within three months of settlement, home to nearly two thousand people and was well organized for trade and government." (Mormon Experience, p101)


One of, if not THE greatest journey in history, is the trek of the pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley.  Of this Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve said:  “Their journeys parallel our own. There are lessons for us in every footstep they took—lessons of love, courage, commitment, devotion, endurance, and, most of all, faith” (Conference Report, Apr. 1997).


Many times in the scriptures the Lord has led groups of people from where they were living to a “promised land.” The scriptures often refer to such a place as a choice land, a land of peace, or a land of inheritance (1 Nephi 2:20; D&C 45:66; 103:11)  Our mortal life is like a journey to the “promised land” of the celestial kingdom, and much like the Pioneers of the Church, we suffer through great trail and tribulation. 




At this time in the history of the church we know that the saints are leaving Nauvoo, they are doing so with perilous circumstances, and incredible trials and tribulations, yet still even the wake of all that they suffered, they had the faith to Carry on. 

To help the Saints in their desire for peace and freedom to worship, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 136, was given by the Lord through his prophet, Brigham Young, on January 14, 1847, at Winter Quarters. At this time Brigham had not yet been ordained as prophet, he was the president of the Quorum of the Twelve which lead the church at this time after the death of Joseph, therefore as president, he was the leader.  Section 136 given to him is the Lord's directions for the Saints regarding their migration into the wilderness.  This is the only revelation received by Brigham Young that is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. It contains help for the saints not only in the migration itself but also in preparation, self reliance, organization, and personal conduct.  During the trek to winter quarters, the Saints experienced many troubles including fighting, bickering, and personal troubles amongst themselves, death, illness, depression, loss of faith just to mention a few.  Section 136 is a guide for personal preservation, as well as preparedness.

In February 1846, Brigham Young led a handpicked vanguard company of 300 men across the ice-filled Mississippi River. At the time, their plan was to reach a place of refuge in the Rocky Mountains that summer and plant crops to feed those who would follow that year. But the ensuing months did not go according to plan. Heavy rains caused streams and rivers to rise well above normal levels, turning Iowa’s rolling plains into muddy quagmires. At the same time, over 1,000 Saints, many of them poorly prepared for the journey, insisted on joining the advance company, longing to be close to Church leaders in a time of uncertainty. Progress slowed so much that Brigham Young gave up on reaching his envisioned destination that year and established Winter Quarters on the banks of the Missouri River instead


Besides this advance group of pioneers, thousands of other Latter-day Saints left Nauvoo, and by the fall of 1846, more than 7,000 people were living at Winter Quarters in caves, wagons, makeshift hovels, and hastily built cabins. Another 3,000 wintered at various locations along the trail under similar conditions. Many were sick from malnutrition and exposure, and some were experiencing a crisis of faith. These trying circumstances made the winter of 1846–47 among the most difficult periods of Brigham Young’s life. He felt “like a father with a great family of children around him” and later recalled that his responsibilities pressed down upon him like a “twenty-five ton weight.”

By January 1847, he had lost so much weight that his clothes no longer fit. He had worried about the Saints, counseled about what to do, and prayed for divine guidance. And then, on January 14, 1847, the answer came. Two days later, Brigham Young invited the Saints to accept the “Word and Will of the Lord” (D&C 136)  


President Brigham Young issued the inspired “Word and Will of the Lord concerning the Camp of Israel” (D&C 136:1), which became the constitution governing the pioneers’ westward movement. Companies were organized and charged to care for the widows and fatherless in their midst. Relations with other people were to be free from evil, covetousness, and contention. The people were to be happy and show their gratitude in music, prayer, and dance. Through President Young, the Lord told the Saints, “Go thy way and do as I have told you, and fear not thine enemies” (D&C 136:17).

Since the revelation begins by addressing “the Camp of Israel", the name given by Brigham to the first company of saints leaving Nauvoo,  some have assumed that the revelation is a simple how-to guide for organizing pioneer companies.  However this revelation played and important role in refocusing Brigham Young and the Church. By helping the Saints remember that their conduct on the journey was as important as their destination, the revelation helped transform the westward migration from an unfortunate necessity into an important shared spiritual experience.

Heeding the Word
Section 136 was the answer to his prayers, Brigham Young then immediately went to work to ensure that the Saints knew with certainty what the Lord expected of them. He enlisted the help of the other Apostles to teach the revealed principles as commanded in the revelation.  Upon learning of the revelation, Horace Eldredge concluded “that its execution would prove their salvation.” Hosea Stout observed that following the revelation would bring needed calm and unity in the face of unexpected trials; it would “put to silence the wild bickering” that had complicated the journey across Iowa.  As they placed their trust in the revealed word, the people no longer felt the urgency to travel physically with the Twelve. The Twelve, in turn, were free to provide general leadership for the Church rather than having to worry about the day-to-day operations of a specific group.


In D&C 136 the Lord instructed the Saints regarding their physical preparations for their journey, these instructions can also help us in our journey. 


D&C 136:1-2 The Lord's house is a house of order. These instructions were to assist the Saints in traveling most efficiently through the wilderness.  Why was this instruction so important for the Saints and how can we apply this instruction to our own journey?

1 The Word and Will of the Lord concerning the Camp of Israel in their journeyings to the West:
2 Let all the people of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and those who journey with them, be organized into companies, with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord our God.


D&C 136:3.  Instructions were given to organize companies under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve, with a president and two counselors and with captains of hundreds, fifties, and tens. How is this organization similar to the way wards and stakes are organized?

3 Let the companies be organized with captains of hundreds, captains of fifties, and captains of tens, with a president and his two counselors at their head, under the direction of the Twelve Apostles.


During Zion’s Camp in 1834, Joseph Smith had used an organizational model of a presidency of three with captains of hundreds, fifties, and tens. Brigham Young had attempted to implement this pattern before the Saints left Nauvoo, but it was not given a high priority. Now in 1847, the way that the Saints were organized would become so important that even before Brigham finished writing down the revelation, he proposed “that letters be written to instruct the brethren how to organize companies for emigration.”



Besides appointing captains, Brigham oversaw two more organizational changes. The size of a company would be limited to no more than 100 wagons. And once individuals became part of a company, they would be expected to travel together throughout the journey. These changes were a marked departure from the loose organization that characterized the Saints’ exodus across Iowa. Although the ideal was not always realized, beginning in 1847 the Mormon exodus became “the most carefully orchestrated, deliberately planned, and abundantly organized in all of American history” 

D&C 136:4  The Saints were instructed to covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord as well as organization.  Why was this important, how does doing this in our time help us? 

4 And this shall be our covenant—that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord.

D&C 136:5. The saints were instructed for each company to provide themselves as much as they could ” Why is it important that we strive to be self-reliant?


5 Let each company provide themselves with all the teams, wagons, provisions, clothing, and other necessaries for the journey, that they can.

D&C 136:6. “Prepare for those who are to tarry remain behind.”.   Each company was to bear an equal portion of the burden. It was not just the elite that were moving west, but all faithful Saints, no matter their position.  What preparations did the Saints make for those who would remain behind?  D&C 136:7, 9.   How can this instruction apply to us?



6 When the companies are organized let them go to with their might, to prepare for those who are to tarry.

7 Let each company, with their captains and presidents, decide how many can go next spring; then choose out a sufficient number of able-bodied and expert men, to take teams, seeds, and farming utensils, to go as pioneers to prepare for putting in spring crops.

8 Let each company bear an equal proportion, according to the dividend of their property, in taking the poor, the widows, the fatherless, and the families of those who have gone into the army, that the cries of the widow and the fatherless come not up into the ears of the Lord against this people.

9 Let each company prepare houses, and fields for raising grain, for those who are to remain behind this season; and this is the will of the Lord concerning his people.

             

D&C 136:8. Care for “the poor, the widows, and the fatherless.” How can we fulfill these responsibilities today?



8 Let each company bear an equal proportion, according to the dividend of their property, in taking the poor, the widows, the fatherless, and the families of those who have gone into the army, that the cries of the widow and the fatherless come not up into the ears of the Lord against this people.



D&C 136:10. “Let every man use all his influence and property to remove this people to … a stake of Zion.”  How can this instruction apply to us?



During the months leading up to the exodus from Nauvoo, Church leaders had made a concerted effort to ensure that as many Saints as possible could make sacred covenants by participating in temple ordinances. If they were striving to keep their covenants and live the commandments, they could claim the promised “power from on high” to bless and assist them. 

The Lord further reminded the Saints: “I am he who led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; and my arm is stretched out in the last days, to save my people Israel” (D&C 136:22).

Other defining characteristics of the covenant path included the reminder for the Saints to assist those in need by bearing “an equal proportion, according to the dividend of their property.” The charge also included the Lord’s promise to the Saints if they willingly did so: “You shall be blessed in your flocks, and in your herds, and in your fields, and in your houses, and in your families” D&C 136:8, 11

The virtues of patience, humility, and gratitude in keeping covenants and attending to temporal stewardships outlined in the revelation would also assist the Latter-day Saint pioneers in settling the wilderness, establishing new homes and communities, and laying the foundation for a church destined to fill the world  ( This Shall Be Our Covenant)  Revelations in Context

Walking the Covenant Path

The Lord instructed the Saints regarding their conduct.  In addition to giving instructions on physical preparations, the Lord gave the Saints directions regarding spiritual matters and their conduct toward each other.

D&C 136:19   Why would humility be important to the Saints on their journey? How do people sometimes seek to build themselves up? How can we more fully seek the Lord’s glory rather than our own? 

19 And if any man shall seek to build up himself, and seeketh not my counsel, he shall have no power, and his folly shall be made manifest.

D&C 136:21 Why is it important that we treat the Lord’s name with reverence?



21 Keep yourselves from evil to take the name of the Lord in vain, for I am the Lord your God, even the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.

D&C 136:23–24. “Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another. … Let your words tend to edifying one another.” How do contentions and evil speaking hinder us as a people? How can we overcome contentions with each other? What can we do to edify each other?


23 Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another.
24 Cease drunkenness; and let your words tend to edifying one another.

D&C 136:25–26Return borrowed or lost items.  Returning Borrowed items cuts down on contention.  



25 If thou borrowest of thy neighbor, thou shalt restore that which thou hast borrowed; and if thou canst not repay then go straightway and tell thy neighbor, lest he condemn thee.

26 If thou shalt find that which thy neighbor has lost, thou shalt make diligent search till thou shalt deliver it to him again.



D&C 136:27. “Be diligent in preserving what thou hast.” What do you think it means to be a “wise steward”? How can our stewardship over physical possessions affect our spiritual well-being?

27 Thou shalt be diligent in preserving what thou hast, that thou mayest be a wise steward; for it is the free gift of the Lord thy God, and thou art his steward.




With new understanding came renewed energy. As God’s people, the saints had the privilege and the responsibility to undertake the journey differently. Lack of physical preparation and food had been major issues during the Saints’ journey across Iowa. Now Brigham came to believe that the success of their endeavor depended less on manpower, maps, wagons, and supplies and more on heeding the word and will of the Lord. The Lord could cause it to rain manna on the plains of America if need be, so long as the Saints put their trust in Him. The Saints had no need to overload their wagons out of fear. To reinforce this point, Brigham Young reduced the vanguard company to just 144 men and instructed them to bring just 100 pounds of food per person on their journey into the wilderness.  All “who had not faith to start with that amount” could stay at Winter Quarters, he declared.  He “warned all who intended to proceed to the mountains that iniquity would not be tolerated in the Camp of Israel” and further declared, “I did not want any to join my company unless they would obey the word and will of the Lord, live in honesty and assist to build up the kingdom of God.”

 (D&C 136:28).  The Lord gives instruction on appropriate recreation.  How can we apply this counsel?

28 If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving 

Within days of receiving the “Word and Will of the Lord,” Brigham proposed a social to show “to the world that this people can be made what God designed them.” Dancing was often thought of as an immoral form of recreation in 19th-century America, but Brigham taught the vanguard company: “There is no harm that will arise from merriment or dancing if brethren, when they have indulged in it, know when to stop” and never “forget the object of this journey.”  In inviting the Saints to dance, Brigham was heeding revealed counsel: “If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving” 

“On the plains, after a day’s march, the wagons were drawn up in a circle, a man with the violin would take his place by the campfire and there on the prairie the sturdy Pioneers would join hands in a dance, opening it by prayer, and participate in amusement that fostered the spirit of the gospel. … President Brigham Young … once said, in substance: ‘The atmosphere of the dance should be such that if any elder be called from the party to go to administer to a sick person, he could leave with the same spirit that he would go from his elders’ quorum meeting’( Conference Report, Apr. 1920, 117).

D&C 136:32–33.  The Lord instructs the Saints to learn wisdom.  In what ways have you found these instructions to be true in your life?

32 Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear;
33 For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly

With preparations in place, Brigham felt confident that the Lord would help them, even with circumstances beyond their control. When individuals in the advance company expressed concerns that they might not reach their destination in time to plant crops, Brigham declared, “Well, suppose we did not. We have done all we could and traveled as fast as our teams were able to go.” If the Saints “had done all they could,” he would feel “just as well satisfied as if they had a thousand acres planted with grain. The Lord would do the rest.” He went on, “I never felt clearer in my mind than on this journey. My peace is like a river between my God and myself

A Time of Learning
The journey from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley became a training ground for Church leaders and members alike. George A. Smith felt that participants would “look back at this journey as one of the greatest Schools they ever were in,” while Wilford Woodruff wrote, “We are now in a place where we are proving ourselves.”   For Brigham Young and the Saints, the journey became both a chance to prove their faith by obeying counsel and an exercise in proving the Lord. The noticeable change among the Saints following the revelation prompted William Clayton to observe, “It truly seemed as though the cloud had burst, and we had emerged into a new element, a new atmosphere, and a new society.”

The 1847 journey of the vanguard company was not without its trials, even with the Saints’ renewed commitment. The initial plan was to leave “one month before grass grows” but no later than March 15.   However, spring was late in coming, and the early grass grew weeks later than normal. As a result of the unseasonably cold weather, the company was not able to leave their location until mid-April. The excitement of finally beginning the journey was soon tempered by the realities of bitterly cold nights, windswept prairies, challenging river crossings, the loss of cattle, and days filled with long, monotonous travel.

At times Brigham Young, having become passionately committed to the principles in the revelation, found himself frustrated with the behavior of some company members. In late May, he read “the Word and Will of the Lord” to the company and “expressed his views & feelings . . . that they were forgetting their mission.” He further proclaimed that he would “rather travel with 10 righteous men who would keep the commandments of God than the whole camp while in a careless manner & forgetting God.” The following day he declared that he wanted the company “to covenant to turn to the Lord with all their hearts.” He reminded them to act like a covenant people: “I have said many things to the brethren about the strictness of their walk and conduct when we left the gentiles. . . . If we don’t repent and quit our wickedness we will have more hindrances than we have had, and worse storms to encounter.” Having reproved with sharpness, he then “very tenderly blessed the brethren and prayed that God would enable them to fulfill their covenants.”


Under the direction of President Brigham Young, the Saints journeyed to the Salt Lake Valley.


The 1847 immigration stands in dramatic contrast to the previous year. While the vanguard company had traveled less than 300 miles in 1846—an average of a little more than two miles a day—the first pioneer company traveled more than 1,000 miles in 111 days, averaging more than four times the distance per day over the previous year.

Many have attributed the success of the Mormon migration to Brigham Young’s personal leadership, but he readily acknowledged God’s hand in the work. “What I know,” he said, “I have received from the heavens. . . . Men talk about what has been accomplished under my direction, and attribute it to my wisdom and ability; but it is all by the power of God, and by intelligence received from him.”  As a result of the lessons learned in 1847, the anxiety that Brigham Young felt at Winter Quarters faded away. Having proved the word and will of the Lord and having subsequently incorporated its principles into his life, he later found himself “full of peace by day and by night” and sleeping as “soundly as a healthy child in the lap of its mother.

WHO WAS BRIGHAM YOUNG?


Outside of the Church, the name of Brigham Young is probably the name that people relate most commonly to the history of Mormonism.  It was Brigham Young who led the exodus to the west and built the Mormon empire in the Rocky Mountains. It was Brigham Young that made the practice of plural marriage public. These were the things that caught the attention of a curious public.

Historian Bernard DeVoto, though a critic of Mormonism, wrote that Brigham Young's leadership "marks a decisive change in Mormonism."  He continued: "Whatever else Smith was, he was primarily a prophet, a religious leader.... Young was primarily an organizer of the kingdom on this earth.... Under Young [Mormonism] became a religio-economic social system, based on cooperative enterprise, subordinating religious ecstasy to practical achievement.... 'Live your religion,' was his unvarying counsel to the Saints. And by 'live your religion' he meant: take up more land, get your ditches in, make the roof of your barn tight, improve your livestock, and in so doing glorify God and advance the Kingdom." 

One Solomon Carvalho, who traveled south with Brigham Young in 1854, wrote: "As soon as our party were descried from the observatory at Parowan, the authorities of the town, and numbers of other gentlemen, came out to welcome the arrival of his excellency, Governor Young; and I never could have imagined the deep idolatry with which he is almost worshipped. There is no aristocracy or presuming position about the governor; he is emphatically one of the people; the boys call him Brother Brigham. They place implicit confidence in him.... He must certainly possess some extraordinary qualities, which could inspire such unlimited confidence in two hundred thousand Mormons." (quoted in They Made Mormon History, p68)

Robert B. Day: "Dynamic was the word for Brigham Young. For thirty-three tumultuous years, by force of personality, character, ability, and organizing genius, he led The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Brigham Young who ascended to leadership of the Latter-day Saints in the crisis of 1844 was relatively unschooled in formal institutions. But he brought to his task rare native abilities. In him idealism and pragmatism were blended to an exceptionally fine degree....

   "A mind that never tired of detail, that left nothing to chance, was one of the greatest of his gifts. Coupled to all these capacities was an iron will that had been beaten on many anvils of adversity from Kirtland to Missouri to England to Illinois, shaped by the hammer blows of mobs and apostates to a cleaving edge. Tempered in faith, it was the driving power of the man through the fire and storm of one crisis after another through which he led the Church for a third of a century." (They Made Mormon History, p44)

George Q. Cannon wrote of his thoughts near the time of Brigham's death: "As I sat near his bed and thought of his death, if it should occur, I recoiled from the contemplation of the view. It seemed to me that he was indispensable. What could we do without him? He has been the brain, the eye, the ear, the mouth, and hand for the entire people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the greatest details connected with the organization of this church down to the smallest minutae connected with the work, he has left upon it the impress of his great mind." (They Made Mormon History, p91)

A Brief History of Brigham Young.
  • June 1, 1801:  Born in Whittingham, VT.
  • After his mother died in 1815 he was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker, painter, and glazier. By age 21 he was in business for himself.
  • 1829:  Moved to Mendon, NY with his wife and three year old daughter. In Mendon he met his life long associate, Heber C. Kimball.
  • Brigham Young kept himself aloof from the religious ferment of the day. He said:  "I saw them get religion all around me. Men were rolling and bawling and thumping but it had no effect on me. I felt that if I could see the face of a Prophet, a man that had revelations, to whom the Heavens were opened, who knew God and his character, I would freely circumscribe the earth on my hands and knees." 
  • 1832:  After studying the Book of Mormon, Brigham was baptized and ordained an elder. After his wife died he lived with Heber and Vilate Kimball for a time.
  • November 1832:  Joseph Young, Heber Kimball, and Brigham Young go to Kirtland and meet the Prophet. Brigham wrote of this event: "We immediately repaired to the woods, where we found the Prophet, and two or three of his brothers, chopping and hauling wood. Here my joy was full at the privilege of shaking the hand of the Prophet of God, and receiving the sure testimony, by the spirit of prophecy, that he was all that any man could believe him to be as a true prophet." That evening a few of the brethren met together where Brigham was called on to pray and delivered his prayer in tongues. Joseph commented on this and said that Brigham had spoken in the pure Adamic tongue. He said, "It is of God, and the time will come when brother Brigham Young will preside over this Church." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 1: footnote to Chapter 23)
  • 1834:  A captain in Zion's Camp.
  • 1835:  Ordained to the original Quorum of the Twelve.
  • 1839:  Leaves on a mission to Great Britain.
  • 1844:  Upon the death of the Prophet became leader of the Church as President of the Twelve.
Prophets of the Restoration - Brigham Young 
Exodus From the Eastern States 

Two years before the Prophet Joseph Smith died, he prophesied that “the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains,” and that some of them would “live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains”  In fulfillment of this prophecy, some 70,000 Church members from all over the world made the trek to Utah between 1847 and 1869.

In addition to prophesying that many of the Saints would live to become a great people in the Rocky Mountains, Joseph Smith foretold of their suffering. He said that some would “be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease.

Mormon pioneers by the hundreds suffered and died from disease, exposure, or starvation. There were some who, lacking wagons and teams, literally walked the 1,300 miles across the plains and through the mountains, pushing and pulling handcarts. In these groups, one in six perished.

November 8, 1845:  Orson Pratt, who was presiding over the eastern and middle states, issued a message to the Saints of that area calling upon them to join the exodus west the following spring.
"We do not want one saint to be left in the United States after that time. Let every branch in the east, west, north and south be determined to flee out of 'Babylon,' either by land or sea, as soon as then." (History of the Church, 3:71)

Those who could get teams during the winter were advised to go by land.  Elder Pratt also announced that Elder Samuel Brannan had been appointed to take charge of a company that would go by sea.

The Brooklyn Saints


The ship Brooklyn was chartered by Brannan to carry East Coast Saints to California.  238 Saints took passage on the ship:  70 men, 68 women, and 100 children. The ship cleared New York harbor on February 4, 1846, and turned southward.  This was the same day the Saints began their exodus from Nauvoo.  The trip was mostly a pleasant one, except for two severe storms, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.  They arrived in Honolulu on June 20, where they remained ten days.  The ship arrived at Yerba Buena (San Francisco) on July 29, 1846. The journey had been made in under six months.

Three weeks prior to their arrival this part of California had been taken by the United States in the Mexican American War.  As well not all had been perfect during the voyage. Four members were excommunicated for improper views and conduct and three more were excommunicated after their arrival in California. 

The passengers from the Brooklyn were quartered in tents and in the old Spanish barracks of the fort making San Francisco, for a short time, "largely a Mormon town." (History of California, 5:551)

Later they began a colony called New Hope on the Stanislaus River. The settlement included a log house, a sawmill, and 80 acres of land, fenced and seeded.  The colony broke up due to the uncertainty of the main body of Saints proceeding to the west coast. Evidently, Brannan finally took possession of the land himself.  About 140 members of the Brooklyn company found their way to the Salt Lake valley between 1848 and 1850. The rest remained in California.  Samuel Brannan also remained in California and left the Church.

About Samuel Brannan


Brannan became a pioneer in California. He was there to take advantage of the discovery of gold. He was involved in speculations in San Francisco real estate, the organizer of milling and railway companies, and purchased a great distillery. For a time he was known as the richest man in California.  The historian Bancroft said that Brannan "probably did more for San Francisco and for other places in California than was effected by the combined efforts of scores of better men; and, indeed, in many respects, he was not a bad man." (History of California, 2:728) 

Parley Pratt said that Brannan was a "corrupt and wicked man" Brannan acquired habits of intemperance and eventually lost his vast fortune. According to Bancroft, in the years prior to his death, he was "a sorry wreck, physically and financially."

The Mississippi Company of Saints.
This company of saints originally consisted of fourteen families from Monroe County, Mississippi, led by William Crosby and John Brown.  John Brown had previously served as a missionary in the southern states and had success in baptizing a large number of persons and organized several branches. Among those was a group in Monroe County, Mississippi.  Brother Brown married one of the Mississippi converts, Elizabeth Crosby in 1844.

As the Saints were preparing to leave Nauvoo, Brother Brown left Nauvoo for Mississippi to assist in outfitting a company to head west.  They left Mississippi on April 8, 1846 hoping to meet up with the Saints heading west.  They arrived at Independence, Missouri in the latter part of May and were joined there by Robert Crow and his family, and William Kartchner, who were members of the Church.

They formed an emigrant company with a small group of non-members who were heading for the Oregon Territory. The united companies had a total of 25 wagons.  Being in Missouri, the members did not announce the fact that they were Mormons, and traveled west without non-members knowing that they were Mormons.  The Oregon emigrants did not discover that they were traveling with Mormons until they reached Indian country along the south bank of the Platte River. At that point, those headed for Oregon decided that their Mormon friends were not traveling fast enough, so they parted company and went on ahead.

The Mississippi company now numbered nineteen wagons that traveled to within a few miles of Fort Laramie. They were unable to obtain any information on the advanced companies of the Saints which had progressed no further than Winter Quarters.

At the recommendation of a Mr. Kershaw, they decided to go south to Pueblo and winter there, reaching Pueblo on August 7, 1846.  They learned there that the main body of the Saints had stopped to winter on the Missouri. They also learned of the Mormon Battalion.

Eight men from the Mississippi company, including John Brown, left Pueblo on September 1, to return to Monroe County to bring the rest of their families west.  After arriving back in Mississippi, they received a message from Brigham Young directing them to leave their families in their old homes for another year, but send all the men that could be spared to go west. 

A small group of men left, fitted out with two wagons, under the leadership of John Brown, arriving in Council Bluffs, a few days before the pioneer company left Winter Quarters. Five of the Mississippi company joined the vanguard pioneer company, including John Brown and two black servants.  An Incredible Story of Green Flake, an African American member of the 1847 vanguard company  In My Father's House Are Many Mansions

Part of the Mississippi company that had wintered in Pueblo met the vanguard pioneer company near Fort Laramie. They said that the remainder of the Mississippi company and the detachments from the Mormon Battalion would leave Pueblo on June 1st and follow the vanguard company into the mountains.


The Mormon Battalion

One of the misconceptions that many have regarding the trek west is that the Mormon Battalion was an initiative forced upon the Church by the federal government. Such was not the case.  The Church was in extreme poverty at this time and needed help. Brigham Young commissioned Jesse C. Little, president of the Eastern States mission, to do what he could to get assistance from the federal government to assist the Saints in their trek westward. 

With the assistance of Thomas Kane, a man sympathetic to the Saints, a deal was worked out with President Polk to enlist 500 soldiers to march to California under the command of General Stephen Kearny to aid the American effort in the Mexican-American War.

On June 26, 1846, Captain James Allen of the U.S. army arrived a Mount Pisgah, Iowa. Not all were aware of President Young's initiative and there was fear that the United States had acted to stop the migration of the Church west.  Brigham Young became an army recruiter and went from camp to camp talking to the men about joining the battalion.  Five hundred of the brethren volunteered to join and become a part of Kearny's march westward.  July 20, 1846:  The Mormon Battalion left Council Bluffs for Fort Leavenworth where they would be outfitted for the trip west.

WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE BRIGHAM YOUNG SACRIFICED FIVE HUNDRED OF THE MOST ABLE BODIED MEN TO THE ARMY AT THIS TIME OF GREAT NEED

He must have felt that there would be sufficient men remaining behind to conduct the journey westward. The battalion wages would be an indispensable source of hard cash, which was desperately needed. More than $50,000 was paid to the Battalion members, most of which was paid into the common fund of the Church, this cash was utilized to purchase supplies and build a gristmill on the Missouri River.  In addition, it would assure Mormon prominence in the new territory (for once the Mormons would be the old settlers).  It displayed the loyalty of the Church to the United States, which was questioned at that time. 

Brigham Young, "The Mormon Battalion was organized from our camp to allay the prejudices of the people, prove our loyalty to the government of the United States, and for the present and temporal salvation of Israel." (Great Basin Kingdom, p21)
The March of the Mormon Battalion

The battalion assembled at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where they were outfitted for the journey.  While drawing checks for their clothing, paid one year in advance, the paymaster was surprised that every man was able to sign his own name.  Lieutenant Colonel James Allen ordered the battalion to start its march on August 12, 1846. He had taken ill and remained behind a few days to recuperate, but became worse and died.  The agreement with Brigham Young was that the only regular Army person to command the battalion was Colonel Allen. When he died, there was a question as to who would succeed the Colonel.  The battalion troops elected a leader from their own ranks, Captain Jefferson Hunt. Lieutenant A. J. Smith of the regular army was sent to take command of the troops. After some discussion, Smith was accepted in his position as commander after he agreed to honor Colonel Allen's agreements with the battalion.

After the battalion made it's last crossing of the Arkansas River, Lieutenant Smith ordered the families that had traveled with the battalion, but not actually enrolled, to be detached and sent under guard of ten men up the Arkansas to Pueblo.  There were protests from the battalion because this was in violation of Colonel Allen's promise that these families could travel with the troops to California. This detachment, and about fifteen families, marched up the Arkansas to Pueblo where they camped for the winter.  The battalion arrived in Santa Fe by October 12. Upon their arrival they received a 100 gun salute ordered by Colonel Alexander Doniphan, who was in command in New Mexico at the time.  General Kearny designated Colonel P. St. George Cooke to take command of the battalion on their march from Santa Fe. This disappointed the Mormon volunteers who had hoped to march from Santa Fe under command of one of their own, which would have been in harmony with Colonel Allen's promises.  Before leaving Santa Fe, a contingent of the sick, along with the remaining women and children, were escorted to Pueblo to spend the winter. This group then joined up with the Saints heading west the following year. 86 men were detached at this time. An additional 55 men were detached and sent to Pueblo after leaving Santa Fe. 

The Battle of the Bulls.  
The only armed engagement of the battalion was on December 11, 1846 when a number of wild cattle stampeded into the rear companies, upsetting wagons and scaring the pack animals.  Several of the battalion opened fire on the wild cattle killing 10 to 15 bulls.  Three men were wounded in the skirmish.  The battalion arrived in San Diego on January 29, 1847, completing the six month desert march to California.  340 men, four wives of officers, and a few children completed the march. 

Accomplishments of the Mormon Battalion
They completed the longest march of infantry in U.S. history.  They cleared the first wagon road across the southern desert to California, established a U.S. presence in Tucson which paved the way for the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico.  As well, Some battalion members were present when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill and they blazed a wagon pass over Cajon Pass and the route east from California to Salt Lake City.

Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, "History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry. Half of it has been through a wilderness, where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found, or deserts where, for want of water, there is no living creature. There, with almost hopeless labor, we have dug deep wells, which the future traveler will enjoy. Without a guide who had traversed them we have ventured into trackless tablelands where water was not found for several marches. With crowbar and pick and axe in hand, we have worked our way over mountains, which seemed to defy aught save the wild goat, and hewed a pass through a chasm of living rock more narrow than our wagons. Thus, marching half naked and half fed, and living upon wild animals, we have discovered and made a road of great value to our country." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:119)

The Trek West 

  Map of the pioneer trek from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City

Much of the following account is from the perspective of apostle Heber C. Kimball.
Leaving Winter Quarters.
  • Sunday, March 21, 1847:  Heber called his last family meeting before the trek - about 50 members, including 11 infants. Instructions were given to those that would follow.  Of his family, only one wife, Ellen Sanders, went in the first company. He was also joined by his son-in-law, nephew, and five adopted sons.
  • Originally, 144 men were to be assembled in the first company. They were to pattern themselves after ancient Israel, twelve men for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  There were a few non-Mormons selected along with three black slaves of southern members. After the addition of three women and two children, and a few other changes along the way, the final group consisted of 159 members.
  • April 5:  Under instructions from Brigham Young, Heber moved six of his companies' wagons out of Winter Quarters four miles to the west to a place known as Cuttler's Park. Other wagons joined Heber's as soon as they could get ready and continued to move west, about 35 miles to the banks of the Elkhorn River. The advanced divisions built a ferry boat and moved the camp across as soon as it arrived. Heber returned to meet with John Taylor who had just returned from England with specially ordered scientific instruments to be used by Orson Pratt. They would be charting a road that would be used by the Saints for more than 20 years.
  • April 14:  Brigham and Heber left Winter Quarters and joined the main camp already 47 miles to the west. Brigham had previously left on April 7, but returned to Winter Quarters to meet with Parley P. Pratt, who had returned from his mission to England. On the early part of the trek Brigham and Heber occupied the same wagon. By May, Heber was in a private wagon with his wife Ellen. The following February Ellen bore a son.
  • April 15:  Brigham spoke to the assembled vanguard camp, "I called the Pioneer camp together and addressed the brethren on the necessity of being faithful, humble and prayerful on the journey. Exhorted the camp to vigilance in guarding, and informed the brethren that I had intimations that the Pawnee Indians were advised to rob us. Said we should go in such a manner as to claim the blessings of heaven." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:162-163)
  • April 16:  In the afternoon, the pioneer camp made its final start westward. Only four miles were traveled that day and eight the next.  During these two days, the camp was getting organized and putting procedures into place for the ongoing trek westward.  There were 73 wagons in the camp; 93 horses; 52 mules; 66 oxen; 19 cows; 17 dogs, and some chickens.
  • Daily schedule:
    • 5:00 AM: Reveille.
    • 7:30 AM: Departure.
    • One hour for lunch.
    • 8:30 PM: Evening prayer.
    • 9:00 PM: Taps.
The Pioneer Company Moves West.
April 19:  The first day of serious travel. The camp moved forward under its new organization and regulations. They traveled 20 miles.  The Mormons traveled on the north side of the Platte River, which they followed to Fort Laramie. The Oregon Trail ran along the south side of the river.

WHY DID THE LEADERSHIP CHOOSE THE INCONVENIENCE OF MAKING A NEW TRAIL OVER USING A GOOD ROAD? 

The new road was preferable to contact with western emigration, much of which was from western Missouri and contained old enemies of the Saints. The consideration was more for the thousands of Saints that would follow, than for the present company. 

Of the early crossing over the plains Heber wrote:  "It was pretty hard and laborious, I admit; but it was one of the pleasantest journeys I ever performed." (Journal of Discourses, 5:132)

Before crossing Loupe Fork the camp was visited by Shefmolan, the grand chief of the Pawnee tribe.  He was not satisfied with the presents from the company. He said that the whites would drive away their buffalo and that the camp should go back and not go on.  This caused the company to increase their guard, with fifty standing on duty each half of the night and the cannon was prepared for action.

At times, when wood for fuel was scarce the pioneers tried using dried buffalo dung which they called meadow muffins or chips. The main objection, other than the aesthetic one, was that they burned to fast.  Heber invented a ground oven for burning the chips more slowly.

May 1:  The company saw their first herd of buffalo. A hunt was organized and Heber decided to test his skills. When Heber shot his heavily loaded gun, his horse sprang and flew down the bluff like lighting. If he hadn't been a good horseman he would have been thrown. 

Brigham Young was concerned about the unnecessary slaughter of buffalo. Wrote Erastus Snow:  "This morning President Young gave some good instructions to the camp, and sharp admonitions to some for being wasteful of flesh; to the hunters for killing more than was really needed." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3: footnote to Chapter 78).

Communication with the pioneers that would follow: 
The pioneers would erect posts at points along the trail with a message written on it.  On May 8th, the following message was left:  "From Winter Quarters, 295 Miles, May 8th, '47. Camp, all well. W. Clayton"  

Another method was to take a piece of board, about 6x18 inches, saw it deeply enough to place a letter in the track. Cleats were nailed on the sides and top to protect it.  The board was nailed to a pole. The letter of May 10th contained an account of the journey up to that point. They also often left messages on the whitened skull of a buffalo.

Orson Pratt kept a record of detail scientific observations. By use of the equipment he carried with him, at each day's encampment he ascertained the latitude and longitude, altitude, and the state of the atmosphere.  He also kept a record of the flora and fauna and the geological formation of the country they passed through. 

Elder Pratt's entry for May 25: "A hard frost last night, and at 5 1/2 o'clock the barometer stood 26:350, attached thermometer 40 deg., detached thermometer 35.8 deg. The morning is calm with a beautiful clear sky. * * * We traveled five and a quarter miles, when I halted a few minutes to take the sun's meridian which gave the latitude 41 deg. 41 min. 46 sec. * * * I here took a luna distance for the longitude; also by an imperfect trigonometrical measurement with the sextant at the distance of three miles, Chimney Rock appeared to be about 260 feet in altitude. * * * On account of the late rains the ground has been quite wet during the day. The soil being of soft marly formation causes the water to stand in ponds and pools, which have been numerous for 15 or 20 miles." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:179) 

May 28:  Heber walked around the wagons of his division and was disturbed by the levity, gambling, and profane language. 

Elder B.H. Roberts wrote in his history: "There was at times much merriment in camp. There were musical instruments brought along and those who could play them. There was dancing, too, occasionally, notwithstanding the absence of ladies; the games of quoits, of checkers, some card-playing for amusement, scuffling, wrestling, the telling of humorous stories of doubtful propriety, loud laughter, the playing of practical jokes and the like were indulged. If these things were an offense in a company made up of churchmen engaged in a New Dispensation of the gospel of the Christ, and seeking then a home for the exiles of a religious persecution, it should be remembered that in the main the company was composed of young men, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were then forty-six years old, respectively; Willard Richards forty-three, These were the recognized leaders of the camp; the rest of the personnel of the Pioneers, with very few exceptions, ranged below this age, and many of them far below it; and they were possessed of the exuberance natural to youth, and that youth alive in a new atmosphere of freedom open plains and boundless physical prospects, to which environment their souls were unconsciously expanding." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:182-183)

Heber met with Brigham and the following day the two of them called upon the camp to repent, cease their folly, and turn to the Lord their God with full purpose of heart to serve him. 

Brigham Young:  "I had rather risk myself among the savages with ten men that are men of faith, men of mighty prayer, men of God, than to be with this whole camp when they forget God and turn their hearts to folly and wickedness. Yes, I had rather be alone; and I am now resolved not to go any further with the camp unless you will covenant to humble yourselves before the Lord and serve him and quit your folly and wickedness. For a week past nearly the whole camp has been card-playing, and checkers and dominoes have occupied the attention of the brethren, and dancing and `hoeing down'--all this has been the act continually. Now, it is quite time to quit it. And there has been trials of law suits upon every nonsensical thing; and if those things are suffered to go on, it will be but a short time before you will be fighting, knocking each other down and taking life. It is high time it was stopped." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:184) 

From that time on a more saintly attitude prevailed in camp.  The following day, Sunday, Brigham convened a meeting of the members of the Council of 50 that were present on the trek. They went out on the bluffs, clothed themselves in their temple robes, and held a prayer circle to pray for guidance.

June 1:  The company arrived across the river from Ft. Laramie. On the journey thus far there had been little sickness and no deaths. They had lost four horses - two to the Indians.  Joined here by an advanced company of 17 Mississippi Saints. They learned that the rest of the Southern Saints and sick members of the Mormon battalion were south at Fort Pueblo. Brigham sent four men to assist this group in getting to the valley. 

From Ft. Laramie they joined the Oregon trail for the next month.  The Oregon Trail was a busy road in 1847. While at Fort Laramie, a party of four men arrived from St. Joseph, Missouri.  They reported that they had passed 2,000 wagons in various companies enroute to the west.  Over this part of the trip, the Saints passed and were passed by pioneer companies headed to Oregon or California. 

At a crossing of the Platte, the Saints remained five days while they made various experiments in ferrying over their wagons.  While there, they found that Oregon emigrants were willing to pay from $1.50 to $2.50 per wagon to be ferried over, a profitable venture.  A company of ten men were left to run the ferry. 

June 27:  They met mountain man Moses Harris near South Pass. He said that the great Salt Lake country was barren, sandy, and destitute of timber and vegetation. He provided a lot of useful information to the Saints.  Heber said that he learned to approach mountain men upwind, as they generally considered cleanliness as bad as godliness. 

The company met another mountain man by the name of Thomas L. Smith, who had a trading post on the Bear River. He described the Bear Lake, Cache, and Marsh Valleys. Said Erastus Snow of his encounter, "He earnestly advised us to direct our course northwestward from Bridger, and make our way into Cache valley; and he so far made an impression upon the camp, that we were induced to enter into an engagement with him to meet us at a certain time and place some two weeks afterwards to pilot our company into that country. But for some reason, which to this day has never to my knowledge been explained, he failed to meet us; and I have ever recognized his failure to do it as a providence of the Allwise God. The impressions of the Spirit signified that we should bear rather to the south of west from Bridger than to the north of west." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:200) 

June 28:  The company met Jim Bridger where they learned more about the Great Basin country.  They camped early that day in order to learn what they could from Bridger. He provided valuable information on roads, streams, and the country in general.  This was when the challenge was given where Bridger offered a $1000 for the first bushel of corn to be grown in the valley.  Brigham's reply, "Wait a little, and we will show you." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:201

June 30:  At Green River, the company met up with Samuel Brannan coming from the west. He brought news that his company had arrived in California, was settling in the San Joaquin Valley, and that the Battalion had also reached the Pacific coast.  Brannan gave a strong sales pitch for California: good soil, favorable climate, it was now part of the United States. Brannan did not receive a favorable reception. 

A few days later, five men were sent back east along the trail, with one wagon, to meet the emigrating companies of Saints now en route from Winter Quarters and to act as their guides to the Green River. 

July 9:  The pioneers quit the Oregon Trail and followed the Hastings Cutoff, the barely visible track left by the Reed-Donner party of 1846. 

Erastus Snow wrote, "We took a blind trail, the general course of which is a little south of west, leading in the direction of the southern extremity of the Salt Lake, which is the region we wish to explore. Fortunately for us a party of emigrants bound for the coast of California passed this way last fall, though their trail is in many places, scarcely discernable." (Comprehensive History of the Church 3:204-205) 

Fortunately for the Saints, the Donner party blazed the trail into the Salt Lake Valley. Even yet it took the pioneer company sixteen days to traverse the last 116 miles between Ft. Bridger and Salt Lake Valley. 

July 10:  The pioneers met Miles Goodyear accompanied by a small company from the San Francisco area returning back to the States. Goodyear had a farm in the Weber Valley.  When questioned about the Salt Lake Valley, Erastus Snow reported that he "was unable to give us any hope; on the contrary, he told us of hard frosts, cold climate; [that it was] difficult to produce grain and vegetables in any of this mountain region." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:206) 

July 12:  Brigham Young struck with tick fever and remained sick for nearly two weeks. Heber took over direction of the camp. The camp split into three groups - the vanguard blazing the trail headed by Orson Pratt, the main company, and a rear guard that stayed with Brigham and Heber. The Pratt company stopped to work on the road as they progressed along the path cut the previous year by the Donner party.

July 19:  Orson Pratt and John Brown started out after sunrise to scout the Donner road ahead. They ascended the road for about four miles when they came to a dividing ridge and caught a glimpse of the valley. They climbed a mountain several hundred feet to get a better view of the valley.

July 21:  Pratt's company passed over "Little Mountain" and came upon a swift running creek now known as Emigration Creek.  At the direction of George A. Smith, Erastus Snow left the main company and followed Pratt's route, catching up with the vanguard company. 

Elder Snow and Elder Pratt left the vanguard company and proceeded down the canyon. Orson Pratt wrote: "Mr. Snow and myself ascended this hill, from the top of which a broad open valley, about twenty miles wide and thirty long, lay stretched out before us, at the north end of which the broad water of Great Salt Lake glistened in the sunbeams, containing high mountainous islands from twenty-five to thirty miles in extent. After issuing from the mountains among which we had been shut up for many days, and beholding in a moment such an extensive scenery open before us, we could not refrain from a shout of joy which almost involuntarily escaped from our lips the moment this grand and lovely scenery was within our view." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:216)

Pratt and Snow descended into the valley. Orson reported the temperature at 96 degrees. They returned to their encampment in the canyon at about 9:00 PM that evening.

July 22:  A party of nine, headed by Orson Pratt and George A. Smith, rode into the valley to explore it. The remainder of the vanguard and main camps were directed to work on the road into the valley.

July 23:  The main group entered the valley and camped on the banks of City Creek.  An attempt to plow the land was made, but the ground was so hard and dry that several plows were broken in the effort. The company set to work to dam the creek and flood the land, thus beginning modern irrigation.  Brigham and Heber's company cross Big Mountain and get their first sight of the valley.

July 24:  William Clayton wrote of President Young's company: "Saturday 24. We started early this morning and found the road very rough and uneven to the mouth of the Kanion which is 4 3/4 miles from where we started...we beheld the Great Valley of the Salt Lake spreading before us...we arrived amongst the brethren at a quarter pas 12 having traveled today 12 1/4 miles...we found the brethren very busy stocking and preparing plows, and several plows to work." 

Brigham Young made the following brief entry into his journal:  "July 24th: I started early this morning and after crossing Emigration Canon Creek eighteen times, emerged from the canon. Encamped with the main body at 2 p. m. About noon, the five-acre potato patch was plowed, when the brethren commenced planting their seed potatoes. At five, a light shower accompanied by thunder and a stiff breeze." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:224) 

Wilford Woodruff wrote that upon entering the valley Brigham Young "was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the Valley before in vision, and upon this occasion he saw the future glory of Zion and of Israel, as they would be, planted in the valleys of these mountains. When the vision had passed, he said: 'It is enough. This is the right place, drive on'." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 3: footnote to Chapter 79) 

Not all felt the same as Brigham. One Saint wrote: "Weak and weary as I am, I would rather go a thousand miles further."  Only a few Saints had arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, but they had laid the foundation for thousands of Saints to come to the Intermountain West. These few Saints, who had been persecuted and driven from their homes, would settle down and build a civilization and strengthen the Church so that its great mission of spreading the gospel of salvation could go forward in an way unparalleled in the history of the world.

How do you feel when you consider the legacy of faith and sacrifice that the pioneers and other Saints have given us?

Who are the pioneers of the Church in your area?

How can we pass on this same kind of legacy to those who will follow us?

What lessons can we learn from the pioneer trek to help us on our journey back to God’s presence?

“Life isn’t always easy. At some point in our journey we may feel much as the pioneers did as they crossed Iowa—up to our knees in mud, forced to bury some of our dreams along the way. We all face rocky ridges, with the wind in our face and winter coming on too soon. Sometimes it seems as though there is no end to the dust that stings our eyes and clouds our vision. Sharp edges of despair and discouragement jut out of the terrain to slow our passage. … Occasionally we reach the top of one summit in life, as the pioneers did, only to see more mountain peaks ahead, higher and more challenging than the one we have just traversed. Tapping unseen reservoirs of faith and endurance, we, as did our forebears, inch ever forward toward that day when our voices can join with those of all pioneers who have endured in faith, singing, ‘All is well! All is well!’” (Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 82 Elder M. Russell Ballard).

Conclusion
In many ways our journey toward eternal life is similar to the journey of the pioneers across America. The pioneers crossed the plains at profound personal sacrifice and often under severe hardship. Demonstrating great faith, courage, and endurance, they set an example for us to follow.  


This is our day in the history of the kingdom of God on the earth. The pioneers laid the foundation, but it is now up to us to complete the work. As President James E. Faust testified, “Faith in every future footstep will fulfill prophetic vision concerning the glorious destiny of this Church” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 42).



Elder M. Russell Ballard said: “We are the inheritors of a tremendous heritage. Now it is our privilege and responsibility to be part of the Restoration’s continuing drama, and there are great and heroic stories of faith to be written in our day. It will require every bit of our strength, wisdom, and energy to overcome the obstacles that will confront us. But even that will not be enough. We will learn, as did our pioneer ancestors, that it is only in faith—real faith, whole-souled, tested and tried—that we will find safety and confidence as we walk our own perilous pathways through life
( Conference Report, Apr. 1997).



Please view these powerful exhibits, Videos and stories of the Saints:

A Powerful power point exhibit at LDS.org: The Saints in Devil's Gate Iowa:   Saints at Devil's Gate

Church History Exhibit: Mormon Pioneers 1847-Today Mormon Pioneers

Pioneers in Every Land LDS.org, An Incredible Story of Green Flake, an African American member of the 1847 vanguard company  In My Father's House Are Many Mansions

Faith in Every Footstep Video The Epic Pioneer Journey




Resources:

A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts
Ensign.
Great Basin Kingdom by Leonard J. Arrington.
History of California by Hubert Howe Bancroft.
Journal of Discourses
BYU Religious Studies
Our Heritage,pages 71–77
This Shall Be Our Covenant.”
Ministry of Brigham Young: A Visionary Leader.”
Conference Report
Prophets of the Restoration - Brigham Young
They Made Mormon History Robert Day

 The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints
Doctrine & Covenants/Church History Church History




The Fall of Adam and Eve

  Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end...