Life and Labors of Orson Pratt

After the Prophet and Patriarch had been cruelly murdered by a mob at Carthage Jail, Apostle Pratt remained in Nauvoo, where he labored with the Twelve Apostles in the management of the affairs of the church, during the difficulties that succeeded the death of the Prophet and Patriarch. In the latter part of the year 1844, he entered into celestial marriage, having two wives sealed to him by President Brigham Young, who now, with the Twelve Apostles, held the highest authority in the Church, holding the right, as did the Prophet, to administer in all its ordinances.

The following year, in the summer of 1845, he was called to preside over the branches of the Church in the Eastern and Middle States. About this time mob violence again began to assert itself against the Saints in Illinois, and Elder Pratt issued two proclamations from New York to the Saints throughout his mission, in which he announced the end of American liberty, as indicated in the movement to expel the Saints from Illinois, enumerated their sufferings and fervently appealed to all connected with the Church in those parts, to gather out and assist in the defense of their brethren and sisters, and in relieving their sufferings.

In November, 1845, he issued his farewell message in those parts, prior to taking his departure for Nauvoo to join the Saints in their removal westward. On his return he received some property that had fallen to his wife Sarah, and with this means he purchased a carriage and a span of horses, with which he journeyed to Nauvoo, where he arrived sometime in December, having been absent on this mission about six months.

During the latter part of December, 1845, and in January, 1846, the Nauvoo Temple being sufficiently finished, he worked with the Twelve and other brethren and sisters, giving endowments and doing work for the dead. The mobs did not cease their violence, nor did they seem satisfied in wreaking their vengeance on innocent men whom they had cruelly butchered, but they were determined on driving the Saints from their comfortable homes into a cold bleak wilderness.

The exodus from Nauvoo commenced in the fore part of February, 1846. Elder Pratt and family, consisting of four wives and three small children—the youngest a babe only three weeks old—bade adieu to their comfortable home in the city of Nauvoo and started for the great west. This was on February 14th, 1846. They crossed the Mississippi river and immediately proceeded to the encampment on Sugar Creek, where they found the camp suffering considerably from the storm and cold. They remained encamped at this place for a number of days. President Young and the most of the Twelve had arrived with their wagons and the camp at this time had greatly enlarged. In the meantime they were visited by several snow storms and the weather became intensely cold, the thermometer, according to Orson Pratt’s notes, ranging as follows:

February, 26th, at 6 p. m. 10° above zero.
February, 27th, at 6 a. m. 5° above zero.
February, 27th, at 6 p. m. 21° above zero.
February, 28th, at midnight 21° above zero.
February, 28th, at 6 a. m. 20° above zero.
February, 28th, at noon 41° above zero.
February, 28th, at 6 p. m. 26° above zero.

The Mississippi froze over and the ice soon became sufficiently firm for the crossing of teams, which brought over the rest of the camp.

“During our stay at Sugar Creek,” says Orson Pratt’s notes, “I obtained by means of a quadrant and an artificial horizon of quicksilver, a meridian observation of the sun from which I deduced the latitude of the camp and found the same 40° 32′. By a number of observations with the quadrant, I had previously ascertained the latitude and longitude of the Temple at Nauvoo; the latitude being 40° 35′ 48″, the longitude 91° 10′ 45″. A quadrant, however, is a very imperfect instrument for determining the longitude, as an error of one minute (1′) in the instrument itself, or in the observation, would produce in the calculated longitude an error of thirty miles. It is a misfortune that we have no sextant in the camp; neither a telescope of sufficient power to observe the immersions and emersions of Jupiter’s satelites.”

“March 1. This afternoon the general camp moved about five miles to the northwest, and after scraping away the snow we pitched our tents and, building large fires, soon found ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit. This evening, the sky being clear, I obtained the altitude of the North Polar Star, from which the latitude of the camp was ascertained to be 40° 34′ 52″; the thermometer standing at midnight at 28°”

At this place there had been obtained a job of making rails for corn by members of the camp who had arrived a few days before, by which means food was obtained for their animals. Two gentlemen from the interior of Iowa, who had been seen a few days before at the last encampment, visited this place for the purpose of trying to trade for Elder Pratt’s dwelling house and the lot on which it stood, and a lot adjoining it on the south. This property being in a business part of the city, and adjoining the Temple square on the north, was considered one of the most beautiful and pleasant in Nauvoo. Before the decree of banishment was issued against the Saints by their persecutors, it was considered to be worth two thousand dollars. But now the owner was compelled to leave it unsold or take the small sum of three hundred dollars, and receive payment therefor, property at a very high price. These gentlemen offered four yoke of oxen with yokes and three chains, one wagon and eight barrels of flour. The next morning the camp moved on and Elder Pratt rode ahead on horseback to Farmington and saw the stock the gentlemen wished to trade him for his Nauvoo property, but nothing was determined on conclusively that day. He overtook the camp on the east bank of the Des Moines river, four miles below Farmington. By an observation of the Pole Star he determined the latitude to be 40° 35′ 51″.

“March 3. At 7 a. m. the thermometer stood at 23°. The camp moved forward, following up the general course of the river, and encamped four miles above Farmington. A meridian observation of Sirius determined the latitude to be 40° 42′ 26″.”

“March 4. At 8 a. m. thermometer stood at 43°. The roads being muddy and some wagons and harness being broken, the camp remained until next day. Elder Pratt concluded the bargain for his house and lot and gave deeds for the same. By the request of the citizens of Farmington, the band of music from the camp visited them and gave them a concert, much to their satisfaction. Bishop Miller, with a portion of the camp, moved onward in a westerly direction.”

“March 5. To-day the most of the camp moved forward, fording the Des Moines river at Bonaparte Mills. The roads being very muddy some of the teams were unable to draw their loads. The most of the camp proceeded about twelve miles and encamped on Indian Creek; the remainder encamped about seven miles back. By an observation of the Pole Star the latitude of the encampment on Indian Creek showed 40° 42′ 51″.”

March 6th, at 7 a. m. the thermometer stood at 35°. The camp here waited until the wagons, which were obliged to stop seven miles back, came up. P. P. Pratt and some others moved on for the purpose of trying to find some employment which was supposed, from reports, could be obtained. The next morning at seven o’clock—thermometer 32°—Orson Pratt and wagons started with the expectation of stopping a few miles ahead, and working on the job which he supposed could be secured. After arriving in the neighborhood he found it could not be obtained on sufficiently favorable terms, and that his brother, P. P. Pratt’s company and other wagons, had gone on. They drove twelve miles farther and stopped at Bishop Miller’s encampment at Fox River. In this region a small branch of the Church was located. Some corn was contributed by them for the benefit of the camp, and Bishop Miller had exerted himself in gathering it together at the camping place. The main body of the Saints located within three miles of them, and the next day Presidents Young and Kimball visited Orson Pratt at his tent, and said they expected to start with the main camp on the tenth instant, and desired that Elder Pratt should start the same day. They then returned to their company three miles back. Bishop Miller and P. P. Pratt started with their companies this morning.

On March 8th Orson Pratt spent part of the day in hunting, but was unable to kill anything except some small game. The weather was warm and pleasant, the thermometer at sunrise standing at 32°. By a meridian observation of Sirius he ascertained the latitude of the camp to be 40° 42′ 56″.

On March 10th Elder Orson Pratt, with his company, moved on in the rain about ten miles, and encamped about two miles north of Bloomfield, on the north side of Fox River. They remained at this place about ten days, waiting for the main camp which was detained by bad roads about thirteen miles back. The camp at this place became somewhat scattered on account of many having engaged work to obtain food for both themselves and teams. Here they exchanged their horses for oxen, as the latter would endure the journey much better than horses.

The next morning—Friday, the twentieth of March—at 6:30, the thermometer stood 10° below the freezing point. The main camp having come up, they proceeded on their journey about ten miles and pitched their tents for the night. On the twenty-first, at sunrise, the thermometer stood 21°. Feeling anxious to overtake Parley P. Pratt’s company, Orson Pratt made an early start, traveled about twenty miles and encamped on the west bank of the Chariton river, the main camp being still behind. On the twenty-second, the day being rainy and unpleasant, the camp moved only seven miles. The next day they traveled through the rain and deep mud, about six miles, and encamped on the west branch of Shoal Creek. The heavy rains having rendered the prairies impassable, the several camps became very much separated from each other, and they were compelled to remain as they were for some two or three weeks, during which time their animals were fed upon the limbs and bark of trees, for the grass had not yet started, and they were a number of miles from any inhabited country, and therefore, it was very inconvenient to send for grain. The heavy rains and snows, together with the frosty night, rendered their situation very uncomfortable.

March 25. Orson Pratt went out hunting, but was unable to kill anything but a wild turkey. The next day he visited President Young and the main camp, about fifteen miles east, where a council was held with the Twelve and the general officers respecting a more perfect organization; after which Orson Pratt returned seven miles and stayed all night with his brother Parley. On the 27th, President Brigham Young and council met at Shoal Creek and completed the organization of the camp by appointing captains over hundreds, over fifties, and over tens, and over all these, a president and counselors, together with other necessary officers. After the council Orson Pratt returned to his own company.

Tuesday 31st. The day being pleasant an observation for the true time was obtained. The latitude of Orson Pratt’s portion of the camp, on the west branch of Shoal Creek, was ascertained to be 40° 40′ 7″; longitude, by lunar distance, 92° 59′ 15″.

The following is from the private journal of Orson Pratt:

“Sunday, April 5. A portion of our camp met together, to offer up our sacrament to the Most High. After a few remarks by myself and Bishop Miller, we proceeded to break bread, and administer in the holy ordinance of the Lord’s supper. At 6 o’clock in the evening, we met with captains of companies to make some arrangements for sending twelve or fourteen miles to the settlement for corn to sustain our animals.”

“Monday 6th. This morning, at the usual hour of prayer, we bowed before the Lord with thankful hearts, it being just sixteen years since the organization of the Church, and we were truly grateful for the many manifestations of the goodness of God towards us as a people. The weather is still wet and rainy. Nine or ten wagons, with four yoke of oxen each, have started this morning for the settlements to obtain corn. In the evening we were visited by a heavy thunder storm, accompanied by a high wind and hail. Most of the tents, which were pitched upon high ground, were blown down, and the inmates exposed to the fury of the storm. The water in Shoal Creek arose in a very few minutes several feet in height, and threatened to overflow its banks and disturb our tents.

“Tuesday 7th. This morning the mud was somewhat frozen; the thermometer standing at 29°. The day is rainy and disagreeably wet, and the mud very deep.”

“Wednesday 8th. Our teams which were sent three days ago after corn returned, the most of them empty, and we find it very difficult to sustain our animals,”

“Thursday 9th. After remaining here about three weeks, we concluded to move on slowly. The rain poured down in torrents. With great exertion a part of the camp were enabled to get about six miles, while others were stuck fast in the deep mud. We encamped at a point of timber about sunset, after being drenched several hours in rain. The mud and water in and around our tents were ankle deep, and the rain still continued to pour down without any cessation. We were obliged to cut brush and limbs of trees, and throw them upon the ground in our tents, to keep our beds from sinking in the mire. Those who were unable to reach the timber, suffered much on account of cold, having no fuel for fires. Our animals were turned loose to look out for themselves; the bark and limbs of trees were their principal food.”

“Saturday 11th. During the night the mud froze hard. To any but Saints, our circumstances would have been very discouraging, for it seemed to be with the greatest difficulty that we could preserve our animals from actual starvation, and we were obliged to send off several days’ journey to the Missouri settlements on the south to procure grain. Many of the people were nearly destitute of food, and many women and children suffered much from exposure to the inclemency of the weather, and from the lack of the necessaries of life, such as they were in former times accustomed to enjoy. But in the midst of all these temporal afflictions, the Saints were comforted in anticipation of better days; they looked forward to the time when these light afflictions would cease, and when they would have the privilege of sitting under their own vine and fig trees, with none to molest them or make them afraid. They were willing to endure hardships and privations, for the sake of escaping the unrelenting persecutions of Gentile Christians, from whom they had received for many years nothing but cruelty and the most heart-rendering oppression. Their desire was to establish themselves in some sequestered spot, where they and their children could worship God and obey His voice, and prepare themselves for the glory which is to be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ. With these glorious anticipations, cheerfulness and joy seemed to animate every countenance, and sufferings were endured without murmuring. The Twelve and others of the authorities met in council, and determined to leave the settlements still further on our left, and launch forth upon the broad prairies on the northwest, which were for hundreds of miles entirely uninhabited.”

“Monday 13th. The weather is yet cold; the thermometer standing, at six o’clock in the morning, at 3° below the freezing point. Our wagons which were sent after corn returned, and after feeding our half-famished cattle and horses, we resumed our journey. Our teams were so weak, and the roads so bad, we were unable to proceed more than about six miles.”

“Tuesday 14th. We moved forward about one mile and encamped. Some scanty feed began to make its appearance in the wettest portions of the prairie, but the nights were still too cold for the grass.”

“Thursday 16th. We proceeded a few miles farther, and arrived in a very pleasant grove, which we called Paradise, in latitude 40° 44′ 7″. About one mile to the south, we found the grass very good. Here we stopped several days, a portion of the camp being about one mile north, at a place which they named Pleasant Point.”

“Wednesday 22nd. We continued our journey about eight miles, and encamped over night. Rattlesnakes were quite plentiful; numbers were seen in various places about our camp; some of our animals were badly poisoned, but the most of them were cured, some in one way and some in another.”

“Friday 24th. Yesterday we traveled about eight miles, to-day, six miles. We came to a place which we named Garden Grove. At this point we determined to form a small settlement and open farms for the benefit of the poor, and such as were unable at present to pursue their journey farther, and also for the benefit of the poor who were yet behind.”

Milando Pratt.

[The Contributor, Feb. 1891]


Life and Labors of Orson Pratt

Garden Grove is situated on a branch of Grand River. The land had been vacated a few months before by the Indians. The following Sabbath after their encampment at this place, two meetings were held and the Saints were addressed by four of the Twelve, viz: John Taylor, in the forenoon; Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Orson Pratt in the afternoon. Having concluded to make a settlement upon these lands, and put in spring crops for the benefit of the Saints who should follow them, the next morning at six o’clock the horn sounded, and all the men assembled themselves together to be organized for labor. One hundred men were appointed to split rails, forty-eight to cut logs and build log houses, several were appointed to build a bridge, a number to dig wells, others to wood their plows, several for herdsmen to watch the stock and keep them from straying, and some to be sent out to the settlements to trade off horses, feather beds, etc., for cows and provisions; and finally, the whole camp were to be occupied about something. During this council for organization they were drenched in rain. After the dismissal of the council, Elder Orson Pratt met in council with the authorities and heard some letters read from Nauvoo, asking advice relative to selling the Temple at that place. A decision in this matter was deferred until the next day, when the subject was taken up and discussed. It was considered that inasmuch as they had been driven from their inheritances and homes and from the Temple, that all sales of their property were but forced sales, and, for the purpose of keeping a poor people from perishing, they felt that they would be justified by their Heavenly Father in selling under such circumstances. At this council it was also proposed to send a company of men, without families, across the mountains with seed, grain, farming utensils, and provisions, to make preparations for those who should follow.

On the 29th day of April, 1846, the people were all called together at twelve o’clock. The subject of selling the Temple at Nauvoo was laid before them and they decided, by a unanimous vote, to sell it; and they also decided to sell the Temple and other church property at Kirtland, Ohio. At this meeting the captains of fifties were instructed to ascertain and report what means could be raised in their companies to fit out the expedition to the west of the Rocky Mountains. During the evening, Orson Pratt obtained an observation of the pole star, and found the latitude to be 40° 52′.

On April 30th, information was received that several hundred wagons were on their way from Nauvoo, being strung along the road for more than one hundred miles from that city. It was expected that another settlement, about thirty-five or forty miles north of Garden Grove, would be formed, and a spring crop put in, and also another on the Big Platte River one hundred miles or more west of the Missouri.

From the first to the eleventh of May, Orson Pratt assisted the brethren in fencing the field, building log houses, bridges, etc., and he frequently met in council with the Twelve and others, and when the weather would permit, took observations for the latitude, longitude, and the true time. Notwithstanding the bad weather, an immense amount of work had been accomplished in the various departments of business.

On the eleventh of May, Orson Pratt, in company with his brother Parley and some of his company of fifty, who were in readiness, left Garden Grove and traveled westward about six miles and encamped at a point of timber, where they stopped until the thirteenth, when they again started upon their journey westward, traveling several days through the rain, over trackless, broken prairies, and bridging the streams, which were very much swollen by the falling rain. Finding a beautiful place on the middle fork of Grand River, Orson Pratt and company resolved to await the arrival of the main camp which joined them on the evening of the eighteenth. This place was named by Parley P. Pratt, Mt Pisgah.

At this point a council was held, in which it was decided that the Twelve, and those whom they should select, should go across the mountains and pioneer the way for those who should follow, and that the remainder of the people should tarry for a season on the Pottawattamie lands, and cultivate the same, if the Indians owning the lands, would consent. Brother Sherwood was sent to a portion of that tribe, encamped about fifty miles north-west, to obtain permission. The people being called together, the decision of the council was laid before them in great plainness by Elders Young, Kimball, P. P. Pratt, and Bishop Miller, when some few yoke of oxen and one or two wagons were offered for the mountain expedition. The next day the people were again called together and addressed by President Young, who requested them to separate into two parties, that it might be determined who were intending to stay and cultivate the land for a season, and who were going west with the Twelve. A great majority were for going west immediately, if the Twelve went; thus rendering it impossible to properly fit out the expedition, in consequence of so many wanting to go.

President Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Geo. A. Smith and many others, with large companies, proceeded onward towards Council Bluffs; but Orson Pratt remained at Mount Pisgah until June 7th, several days later, in consequence of not having wagons and teams sufficient to get along with. During his stay here, a large number of the Saints arrived from Nauvoo; the most of whom passed on for the Bluffs, intending to go with the first company. Others remained at the farm, not having sufficient means for an outfit. Elder Orson Hyde also arrived with a large company. At this place Sister Louisa Chandler Pratt, one of Elder Orson Pratt’s wives was taken sick with a billious fever, which turned into the typhus fever. Dr. Clinton was consulted, and thinking that journeying on might not injure her, but perhaps do her good, and having procured three additional wagons with some additional teams, Elder Pratt and family left Mount Pisgah and proceeded on for several days until they reached the Platte River. Finding Sister Louisa dangerously sick, they halted and pitched their tent upon a narrow neck of land on the west bank of the Platte, the place being comfortably shaded by large black-walnut trees. Sister Louisa continued to get worse during the day, and before sundown became speechless, and about 10:30 o’clock p.m. she breathed her last. According to her request, she was laid out in her robe and other garments which she had worn in the Nauvoo Temple. The next morning a place was searched out on the east bank of the Platte, two Indian graves being but a few rods distant. Her coffin consisted of four slabs of bass-wood with thick bark at the head and foot. The funeral took place at twelve o’clock noon, and the people were addressed by R. D. Sprague. A large company of Saints from Michigan was present. Elder Pratt cut the following letters in a tree which stood at the foot of the grave, namely: “L. C. P. died June 12th, 1846.”

After the close of these sad rites, and towards evening, the journey westward was resumed. Quite a number of the Pottawattamie Indians visited the company at their various camping places and appeared quite friendly. In passing through one of their villages, and as they were crossing the two forks of the Nishnabotona river, scores of their men, women and children collected around.

On June 17th they arrived in the neighborhood of the main encampment near a little village of whites and half-breeds on the Missouri river. A large number of the Pottawattamies also resided in this vicinity. Here was also the residence of the Indian agent; and a branch of the American Fur Company’s establishment was located here. At this place the great chief of the Pottawattamies, who was an educated man, visited the camp. He spoke English fluently and welcomed the people to the use of the timber upon his lands, while they tarried for the purpose of making an outfit. A Mr. Sarpee and one of his men who had just arrived from the mountains, also visited the encampment and gave much information in relation to the great West. Mr. Sarpee was a wealthy merchant engaged in the American Fur Company’s business. From him a job of work was secured by the camp to freight about ninety thousand pounds of buffalo robes, furs, etc, from the head of Grand Island—some two hundred and twenty miles west of this place—for which Mr. Sarpee engaged to pay one thousand dollars in cash, together with some provisions, a horse and other things. Preparations were made, and wagons and teams sent some sixty or eighty miles down the river into the settlements to obtain cows, and provisions, for the great western expedition.

It was during Elder Orson Pratt’s stay at this place that the famous call was made by the Federal Government, for the Saints to furnish five hundred young men to march to California, and take part in the war with Mexico. This call was made by Captain James Allen of the United States army, who arrived at Mount Pisgah, Iowa, on June 26, 1846, and presented the Saints, who were temporarily located there, with a circular calling for five hundred of their young and most able-bodied men. Suffice it to say, without entering into detail, this body of men was raised, and the history of this famous Mormon Battalion forms one of the most notable pages in the events of modern times.

Having obtained some supplies from the Missouri settlements, Orson Pratt, with his company, pushed on to Cuttler’s Park and from thence to Winter Quarters, where the dreary winter of 1846-7 was shared with the Saints in their joy and in their sufferings.
In the spring of 1847, leaving his family in Winter Quarters, he started with the Pioneer Company, consisting of one hundred and forty-eight persons, and arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley, July 21st, 1847, he and Erastus Snow being some two or three days in advance of the main companies.

To give the reader a more detailed statement of the arrival of these advancing pioneers, we extract the following from the private journal of Orson Pratt:

“Wednesday, July 21, 1847.—No frost this morning, but a heavy dew. We resumed our journey, came two and a half miles and ascended a mountain for one and a half miles and ascended a mountain for one and a half miles; descended upon the west side one mile; came upon a swift running creek, where we halted for noon; we called this Last Creek. Brother Erastus Snow (having overtaken our camp from the other camp, which he said was but a few miles in the rear) and myself proceeded, in advance of the camp, down Last Creek four and a half miles, to where it passes through a cañ and issues into the broad open valley below. To avoid the cañ the wagons, last season, had passed over an exceedingly steep and dangerous hill. Brother 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 waters of the 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 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. We immediately descended very gradually into the lower parts of the valley, and although we had but one horse between us, yet we traversed a circuit of about twelve miles before we left the valley to return to our camp, which we found encamped one and a half miles up the ravine from the valley, and three miles in advance of their noon halt. It was about nine o’clock in the evening when we got into camp. The main body of the Pioneers who were in the rear, were encamped only one and a half miles up the creek from us, with the exception of some wagons containing some who were sick, who were still behind.”

Orson Pratt, in reality, was the first one of the Pioneers to set foot upon the site of where Salt Lake City is located. In detailing, by word of mouth, the account of the trip of that eventful day, the writer heard his father say, that soon after leaving the mouth of the (Emigration) cañ, Brother Erastus Snow discovered that he had lost his coat off the horse they had between them, and he retraced his steps in search of the lost garment. Orson Pratt continued his journey farther down into the valley, and in making his circuitous route he came upon the waters of City Creek, and traversed the land where the Temple Block and central portions of the city are now located. After having traveled thus far on foot and alone, he turned his course southward and met Brother Snow on the creek several miles below where it issues from the mouth of Emigration Cañ, and from thence the two returned to the camp in the cañ.

The next day—July 22—Orson Pratt and George A. Smith, accompanied by seven others, rode down and explored a portion of the northern part of the valley. They visited the warm and hot springs issuing from the base of the mountains, and continued their journey northward towards the Great Salt Lake. Finding the soil, as they proceeded, unfit for agricultural purposes, they returned and found their wagons encamped about five and a half miles from where they had left the cañ.

The following day—July 23—John Pack and Joseph Matthews were sent back to the rear camps, which were still in the mountains, to inform President Young and the brethren who were with him, of the discoveries and explorations made by the advance companies. The camp moved about two miles north and encamped on the stream subsequently known as City Creek, in the locality of of what is now the Eighth Ward of Salt Lake City.

At this place the camp was called together and Orson Pratt offered up prayer and thanksgiving in behalf of the Pioneers, all of whom had been so wonderfully preserved on the whole journey from the Missouri River to the valley; and he dedicated the camp and the land unto which they had come, to the Lord, imploring His blessings upon their labors and all that pertained unto them. The meeting was addressed by Willard Richards and Orson Pratt, and various committees were appointed to attend to different branches of business, preparatory to putting in crops, and in about two hours after their arrival, they began ploughing about where Godbe’s Drug store now stands, and that same afternoon they built a dam to divert water, with which to irrigate the soil.

Saturday, July 24.—Potatoes were planted in the forenoon on a portion of the ground previously ploughed by the Pioneers. About noon, President Young, whose delay several days in the mountains was caused by sickness, arrived at the Pioneer encampment on City Creek, accompanied by the brethren who constituted the rear company.

Apostle Wilford Woodruff, in whose carriage President Young was riding at the time they emerged from the mountains into the valley, among other notes of that day says:

“President Young expressed his entire satisfaction at the appearance of the valley as a resting place for the Saints, and felt amply repaid for his journey. While lying upon his bed in my carriage, gazing upon the scene before us, many things of the future concerning the valley were shown to him in a vision.”

Milando Pratt.

[The Contributor, Mar. 1891]


Life and Labors of Orson Pratt

The first Sabbath services, after the arrival of the Pioneers, were held July 25th, 1847, within the encircle of the encampment. It was here these brave God-fearing colonists assembled for public worship, and in their expressions of gratitude to the Almighty God who had led them out of captivity to a land destined for the gathering of the Saints, they failed not to acknowledge His goodness in preserving every soul, from the time they left the Missouri River until their arrival at the Great American Basin in the midst of the Rocky Mountains. Like the former day Israel and not unlike the pilgrim fathers, were these gallant Pioneers, in their remembrance of the duties of the Sabbath. On this day, for the first time in the valley, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered and partaken of by the whole congregation, followed by remarks from Elders Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, Willard Richards, Lorenzo D. Young, John Pack and others. Elder Pratt gave a powerful address from the following text:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” (Isaiah hi: 7, 8.)

Appropriating this text to his sermon, Elder Pratt proved that these words of Isaiah were being literally fulfilled in the fact that the Saints were now being located in the valleys of the mountains.

President Young, though still feeble, gave a few timely remarks, exhorting the brethren to keep holy the Sabbath day; that they must not work on Sunday; that they would loose five times as much as they would gain by it. None were to hunt on that day. He also said, that no man who came here should buy any land; that he had none to sell; but that every man should have his land measured out to him for city and farming purposes. He might till it as he pleased, but he must be industrious and take care of it.

On Tuesday, July 27th, the Twelve, accompanied by Samuel Brannan and several others, started, about nine o’clock a.m. on an exploring expedition.

“We directed our course west,” says Orson Pratt. “Two or three miles brought us to a river called the Utah Outlet. It is about six rods wide and three feet deep at the ford; gravel bottom; its current is not very rapid, and the water not quite so transparent as the mountain streams generally in this valley; its course is north towards the Salt Lake, into which it empties. About thirteen miles further, across a level prairie, with here and their the bed of a lake, now perfectly hard and dry, we came to a north point of a range of mountains which forms the western boundary of this valley. At the foot of these mountains, at the north point, there is a stream of fresh water; very little brackish. We halted here a short time for the horses to feed. About six miles further west, following the emigrant trail, brought us to the Great Salt Lake, which here made up near the base of the mountains. We all bathed in the water, which is fully saturated with salt; its specific gravity is such as to buoy us up in a remarkable manner; the water is very transparent; the bottom is sandy. We continued on about four miles further when we reached a valley (Tooele Valley) putting up to the southward from the lake. This valley we judged to be about twelve miles in diameter. On the south, there was a small opening, which we supposed might be a continuation of the valley, or an opening into a plain beyond. It was nearly dark, and we concluded to return to the place of our noon halt, where we encamped for the night.”

The next day, July 28th, the exploring party traveled about ten miles south, along the eastern base of the Oquirrh mountains; they found a barren country and no water. Orson Pratt ascended a ridge about three miles south of a point where the company halted for noon, from the top of which he could see Utah Lake. Striking eastward across the valley, they returned to the main camp, having traveled during the day, thirty miles. They saw on this trip about one hundred goats, sheep and antelope.

After returning from this trip, the brethren were more satisfied than ever that they were already encamped upon the spot where their contemplated city should be built. Soon after their return to the camp, President Young called a council of the Quorum of the Twelve. There were present: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Geo. A. Smith, Amasa Lyman and Ezra T. Benson. They walked from the north camp to about the center between the two creeks, when President Young waved his hand and said: “Here is the forty acres” (which was afterwards changed to ten acres) “for the temple. The city can be laid out perfectly square, north and south, east and west.” It was then moved and carried that a block be laid off for the Temple, and that the city be laid out into lots of ten rods by twenty each, exclusive of the streets, and into blocks of eight lots, containing ten acres in each block, and one and a quarter acres in each lot. It was further moved and carried, that each street be laid out eight rods wide, and that there be a sidewalk on each side, twenty feet wide, and that each house be built in the center of the lot, twenty feet from the front, that there might be uniformity throughout the city. It was also moved that there be four public squares of ten acres each, to be laid out in various parts of the city for public grounds.

After the Twelve had passed upon the business before them, the whole camp came together at eight o’clock, upon the Temple ground and passed the vote unanimously; and, when the business part of the meeting was closed, President Young arose and addressed the assembly upon a variety of subjects. In his remarks he said that he was determined to have all things in order, and righteousness should be practiced in the land. They had come here according to the direction and counsel of Brother Joseph before his death; “and,” said the President, “Joseph would still have been alive, if the Twelve had been in Nauvoo when he re-crossed the river from Montrose.” During his remarks, President Young observed that he intended “to have every hole and corner, from the Bay of San Francisco to Hudson’s Bay, known to us.” At this meeting the Apostles were appointed a committee to lay off the city.

Thursday, July 29.—The Mormon Battalion detachment, under the command of Captain James Brown, numbering one hundred and forty men, accompanied by about one hundred of the Mississippi Saints, who traveled with the Battalion from Pueblo, arrived, which greatly added to the strength of the Pioneer camp, increasing the number of souls there to about four hundred. President Young, with the Pioneer brethren, having mounted their horses and gone out to meet the detachment, returned at the head of the companies and marched into camp with martial music. The soldiers appeared in military order. There was great rejoicing at the meeting between the brethren of the Pioneers and the Battalion boys.
The following morning, the Twelve met in council with the officers of the Battalion, and in the evening a general meeting of the camps was held. President Young, who spoke upon this occasion, eulogized the soldiers of the Battalion. He considered that they had been the means of saving the Saints from destruction, by the sacrifice they had made in enlisting in the services of their country according to the requisition made by the United States Government.

Saturday, July 31.—A bowery, about forty feet long by twenty-eight wide, was constructed on the Temple Block by the Battalion brethern. This was built to accommodate all the members of the camp who would assemble on the morrow for worship. During the day about twenty Shoshone Indians, with several squaws visited the camp, and commenced trading with some of the brethren, when a dispute arose between two of the young warriors, who commenced fighting very fiercely. After a gun stock and a pole had been broken over each others head by themselves, they were finally separated.
As a result of eight days labor, Colonel Markham reported fifty-three acres plowed, thirty-five acres of which were planted with buckwheat, corn, oats, etc.; eight acres in another lot, with corn, potatoes, beans, etc., and four acres of a plowed ten acre lot, with garden seeds. Corn, covering about three acres, was already up about three inches above ground, and some beans and potatoes also began to appear. Besides this, much other work had been done, such as making a road to the timber, hauling timber for a boat, making and repairing plows, etc.

Sunday, August 1st.—At ten o’clock A. M. the Saints assembled under the bowery on the Temple Block. All the Apostles were present except President Young, who was again sick. Heber C. Kimball advised, that if a guard was not already out around the cattle, one be placed immediately, as the Indians had left camp very suddenly in the morning without assigning any reasons. The assembly was addressed by Orson Pratt, the substance of which is as follows:

“It is with peculiar feeling I arise before so many of the Saints in this uncultivated region, inhabited by savages. My mind is full of reflections on the scenes through which we have passed, after being brought through the desert of sage to this distant land. God’s ways are not as our ways. It is not well that the Saints should always forsee the difficulties they have to encounter. We expect the revolutions to take place, which are foretold in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, and we are to congregate among the remnant of Joseph. We did think that our wives and children would be built up among the strongholds of the Gentiles, and that we should be as missionaries to them, by dwelling in their midst. But Jehovah had different purposes. He designed that the Saints should be brought out almost as an entire people; and the Book of Mormon could not have been fulfilled, if the Saints had not left the Gentiles; for when the Gentiles should reject the Gospel, it was to be taken among the Lamanites. As long as the Gospel, the Priesthood and the main body of the Saints remained with them, the fulness of the Gospel was not taken away from the Gentiles; hence our removal hither is one of the greatest events that has ever taken place among this people. I feel thankful, as one of the Twelve, for the privilege of coming as one of the Pioneers to this glorious valley, where we can build up a city to the Lord. Isaiah says, in speaking of Zion, that it shall be called ‘sought out,’ a city not forsaken. (Isaiah xiii:12.) If ever there was a place sought out, it is this. We have inquired diligently and have found it. This cannot refer to Jerusalem, but to this very place, point and spot that the Pioneers have found, where a city shall be built unto the Lord, where righteousness will reign and iniquity not abound. Isaiah and Joel both spoke very plainly on this subject: ‘It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the tops of the mountains.’ In what part of the earth could it be established better than in this place, where this congregation is now gathered! In the midst of the spurs of the mountains, we have found a place large enough to gather thousands of the Saints. You may travel through Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, but you cannot find a place higher in altitude than this, where any people can raise crops and sustain themselves. The house of the Lord will indeed be established in the tops of the mountains, when we shall have one reared here. The Lord himself must give the pattern of such a building, and give directions to His servants concerning its details. I verily believe I shall see such a house reared here, and behold thousands flocking to it, to learn the way of salvation; and desire to live and see thousands of the Saints raise their voices in praises to God in this consecrated land. Isaiah says, ‘He that walketh righteously shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the mountains of rocks; bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.’ (Isaiah xxxii 15-16.) Isaiah was on the Eastern continent when he spoke this, and was refering to a very distant place.”

“It will be pretty difficult to get a ship of war up to this place. When we get used to this healthy climate, the people will grow in strength and vigor, and sickness will cease to trouble them. The wilderness shall become a fruitful field and a fruitful field as a forest. The time will come when the great Jehovah will cause springs of water to gush forth from the desert land and cause it to bring forth in abundance, while the curse of God shall rest upon the lands that the Gentiles have defiled. Isaiah speaks of the heritage of Joseph being in a high place. We are here more than four thousand feet above sea level, and the high mountains will ‘catch the hail,’ and we be preserved in a low place. We will not feel discouraged, but stand bold and fearless in the strength of our God, who will bless and prosper us in these mountains, if we will but keep His commandments.”

The next morning—Monday August 2nd—Elders Orson Pratt and Henry G. Sherwood commenced surveying the city, beginning with the Temple Block; but as the chain was somewhat out of repair, it was concluded to wait untill a standard pole could be brought from the mountains, by which it could be tested. Although the day was very warm the whole camp was full of life and activity. Some of the brethren commenced making adobes, and towards evening Elder Kimball’s teams returned from the mountains with some good house logs and poles for measuring.

At a former decision of the Twelve, forty acres of land were reserved for the Temple Block, but when the survey was commenced the tract appeared so large that it was finally reduced to ten acres.

Friday, Aug. 6.—All of the brethren of the Twelve, who were present at the camp, renewed their covenants with the Lord by re-baptism. President Young went down into the water and baptized the following named brethren in their order, viz: Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Amasa Lyman. He then confirmed them and sealed upon them their Apostleship, and all the keys powers and blessings belonging to that office. Elder Heber C. Kimball baptized and confirmed President Brigham Young. This they considered a great privilege and a duty, as they had been led and preserved by the hand of God into a “glorious valley to locate and build up Zion.”
In the afternoon Prof. Orson Pratt made an observation, and found the latitude at the northern boundary of the Temple Block to be 40° 45′ 44″ and the longitude 111° 26′ 35″.

The next day a dam was built in the creek, a short distance above the camp, in order to bring the cool refreshing stream of water around and inside the camp. About noon a terrible whirlwind struck the camp and did considerable damage. In the afternoon the Twelve went to the Temple Block to select their inheritances. President Young chose a block east of the Temple grounds, and running southeast, upon which to settle his friends around him; Heber C. Kimball a block north of the Temple Block; Orson Pratt, south and running south; Wilford Woodruff, a block cornering the Temple ‘Block on the southwest, and adjoining Orson Pratt’s on the west; George A. Smith chose the block joining on the west side of the Temple; Amasa Lyman took a block running forty rods below on the south of Wilford Woodruff’s. It was supposed that Willard Richards would take his on the east, near President Young’s, but subsequently the eastern portion of the block selected by Orson Pratt was divided with him, as also the remaining west half of Orson Pratt’s block was subsequently divided with his brother Parley P. Pratt and his cousin John Van Cott, reserving only to himself the northwest corner lot.

Early in the evening, the Twelve accompanied by quite a number of the camp, repaired to the place in City Creek where the brethren had built the dam, and Elder Heber C. Kimball baptized fifty-five members of the camp, for the remission of their sins; they were confirmed under the hands of President Young, Orson Pratt, Wiford Woodruff, George A. Smith and Amasa Lyman; President Young being mouth.

The day following—being the Sabbath—two hundred and twenty-four of the Saints renewed their covenants before the Lord by baptism, making a total of two hundred and eighty-four,—the whole of the camp,—who had been re-baptized during the last three days. In the afternoon, the Sacrament was administered, and at the close of the meeting, one hundred and ten men were called to go into the adobe yard, and seventy-six volunteered.

The following days of the week were busily occupied by the brethren in making adobes, building houses, surveying the city, and in other labors. Orson Pratt took observations and ascertained the height of the Temple Block to be four thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, as deduced from the mean of eleven barometrical observations taken on different days. Barometrical height of the east side of the Temple Block above the right bank of the Utah Outlet (Jordan River) due west of the Temple Block, sixty-five feet. From the Temple Block, up City Creek, about one mile to the northeast, by the barometer, the water fell two hundred and fourteen feet. About three miles to the northeast from the Temple Block up City Creek, as indicated by the barometer five hundred and fifty-four feet. Barometrical height near the base of Ensign Peak above the Temple Block, eight hundred and sixty two feet. The summit of Ensign Peak above the Temple Block, one thousand and eighty-one feet. Second hill northeast of Ensign Peak, one thousand five hundred and ten feet. Height of mountain northeast of Ensign Peak, above the Temple Block, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine feet. Height of Twin Mountain Peak above the sea level, eleven thousand two hundred and nineteen feet. Height of Twin Mountain Peak above the Temple Block, six thousand nine hundred and nineteen feet. Distance from the Temple block to a conical peak near the north end of the western range of mountains as determined by the sextant, sixteen and a half miles.

Towards the end of the week some twenty houses had been commenced. These first houses were built on the east line of the stockade or fort, subsequently know as the Old Fort, in the Sixth Ward.

As some of the Pioneers and soldiers of the Battalion began to get quite anxious concerning their families at Winter Quarters, and were desirous of starting back as soon as possible, it was decided to start the ox teams on the return trip the following Monday, and preparations were made accordingly. William A. King constructed a new roadometer which could tell the distance traveled for one thousand miles, without keeping any account. This new machine was modeled after a plan or design given by Prof. Orson Pratt, who, according to President Young’s request, gave the subject his attention, which resulted in the completion of this useful machine to be used on the return trip to Winter Quarters. After giving a full description of this simple piece of ingenuity, Prof. Pratt says: “This machine (which may be called the double endless screw) is simple in its construction, and of very small bulk, requiring scarcely any sensible additional power, and the knowledge obtained respecting distances, in traveling, will certainly be very satisfactory to every traveler, especially in a country but little known. The weight of this machine need not exceed three pounds.”
Sunday, August 15.—At ten o’clock A. M. a meeting was held in the bowery. President Young preached a most interesting discourse on the “law of adoption,” the death of Brother Crow’s grandchild, who had been drowned a few days previous in City Creek, giving occasion for the same. The death and funeral of this little child was the first that had occurred in the valley. In the afternoon the congregation was addressed by Elders Heber C. Kimball and Orson Pratt. In the evening, those of the Pioneers and Battalion, who were expecting to start back to Winter Quarters with the ox teams on the morrow, met at President Young’s tent and received their instructions.

The following day, most of the wagons going to Winter Quarters with ox teams started and traveled to the mouth of Emigration Canon, where they waited until the next morning for the remainder of the company. The following day they were joined by the remainder of the company, and soon after resuming their journey conjointly, they were overtaken by Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards and others from the Pioneer camp in the valley. After Brother Kimball had given them some timely advice and necessary instructions, they continued their journey, and Brother Kimball and escorts returned to the valley.

The brethren in the valley continued to labor in the various avocations assigned them, and by the twentieth of August, the laying out of the city was completed. The first survey consisted of one hundred and thirty-five blocks, each containing ten acres. The blocks were subdivided into eight lots of one and a fourth acres each. The streets were made eight rods wide including the sidewalks, which were each twenty feet wide. There were four public squares including the Old Fort block.

On Sunday, August 22., a special conference of the Church was held at the bowery on the Temple Block commencing at two o’clock P. M. This conference, which had been appointed at the forenoon meeting, was convened for the purpose of transacting important business of the Church previous to the Pioneers leaving for Winter Quarters. There were present of the Twelve, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, Amasa Lyman, Willard Richards and Orson Pratt. At this special meeting the city was named “The Great Salt Lake City,” and the post office “The Great Basin Post Office,” the river west of the city was named “The Western Jordan,” the large creek flowing into the city was called “City Creek;” “Red Butte Creek,” “Canon Creek,” (afterwards called Emiigration Creek,) ‘Big Canon Creek,” (now Parleys Canon) and “Mill Creek,” also received their respective names.

President Young moved that a president be appointed to preside over the people in the valley, and that there be a High Council, and all other necessary officers appointed. All this business was done by motions which were seconded and carried unanimously. The brethren were all invited to speak their minds freely, so that everything that should be done, might prove beneficial to those present as well as those who should soon arrive.

Much valuable instruction was given at this special conference. Those of the Pioneers who were expecting to return to Winter Quarters were advised to get ready as soon as possible. Heber C. Kimball in his closing remarks said: “Let us discourage the spirit of alienation and be united. I wish to God we did not have to return, and I would give a great deal to have my family here now. This is a Paradise to me, and one of the loveliest places I ever beheld. I hope none of us will be left alive to pollute this land. I would rather die than act as inconsistent as many have in times past.”

President Young moved that the conference adjourn until October 6th, 1848. after which Orson Pratt offered the benediction.

Several days were spent in making preparations for the departure of the company which was to return, and on Thursday, August 26th, the Twelve and others who were destined for Winter Quarters, started on their return. The whole camp consisted of one hundred and eight men, thirty-six wagons, seventy-one horses and forty-nine mules. They frequently met passing trains of Saints upon the plains, who were wending their way to the valley of the Great Basin. Occasionally these Saints, when met, were encouragingly instructed and counseled by the Twelve and other brethren, and although much hardship and fatigue were endured by this returning Pioneer company, not a man had died, nor a horse or mule lost, except through carelessness.

About an hour before sunset on October 31st, the company, with President Young and the Twelve at their head, drove into Winter Quarters, in order. The streets were crowded with people, who had come out to meet and shake hands with the Pioneers, as they passed through the lines, and the “weary travelers truly rejoiced to once more behold their wives, children and friends, after an absence of six months, in which time they had traveled over two thousand miles, sought out a location where the Saints could dwell in peace, and accomplished one of the most interesting and important missions of this dispensation.”

Milando Pratt.

[The Contributor, Apr. 1891]


Life and Labors of Orson Pratt

The Pioneers, on their return from the Rocky Mountains, found their families, and the Saints generally at Winter Quarters, well and prosperous. Through their industrious and thorough habits of cultivation, the earth had brought forth abundantly, and they had been greatly blessed.

During the month of November, 1847, much important business came before the Twelve; and, on the last of the month, the subject of reorganizing the First Presidency, which had been vacant since the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, was considered.

On the third of December a conference was held on the east side of the Missouri River; but, after having resolved to build a large tabernacle for the congregation, it adjourned for three weeks.

December the 5th a feast and a grand council was held at the house of Elder Orson Hyde, who, during the absence of the Pioneers, had been in charge at Winter Quarters. In this council, Elder Brigham Young, who was President of the Twelve Apostles, first expressed his views concerning the reorganization of the Quorum of the First Presidency, and wished those present to do the same in their order, when Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, George A. Smith, Amasa Lyman and Ezra T. Benson spoke to the question. President Young closed.

It was then moved by Orson Hyde and seconded by Wilford Woodruff that Brigham Young be President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that he nominate his two counselors to form the First Presidency, which motion was carried unanimously.

President Young then nominated Heber C. Kimball as his first counselor, and Willard Richards as his second counselor, which was seconded and carried unanimously.
The next day the Twelve again met and appointed Father John Smith presiding Patriarch of the whole Church.

On the twenty-fourth of December the conference reassembled, which lasted four days. About one thousand persons assembled in the “Log Tabernacle,” sixty by forty feet, and chose Brigham Young “President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all the world.”

During the first three or four months of the year 1848, the Saints at Winter Quarters were busy preparing for the general migration of the Church to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Those who participated in the “Battle of Nauvoo” commemorated it with a feast on the third of February.

The regular general conference, celebrating the organization of the Church, was held on the sixth of April, 1848, at which Apostle Orson Pratt was called to go upon a mission to Europe to preside and take charge of all the affairs of the Church in that country. The following is a copy of his appointment: “Elder Orson Pratt, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is hereby delegated to repair to England; to preach the Gospel, print, publish, superintend the emigration, and preside over all the conferences, and all the affairs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Islands and adjacent countries; and we call upon all the Saints to give diligent heed to his teaching, and follow his counsel in all things, for in so doing they will be blessed. Elder Pratt’s family will accompany him, if he choose; in so doing, we pray that they may be blessed. It is the duty of Elder Pratt to see that the Elders and Saints carry out those principles contained in our General Epistle of twenty-third of December, 1847.

“Done at Winter Quarters, Omaha Nation, North America, this twenty-second day of April, 1848, and signed in behalf of the Presiding Council of the said Church.
Brigham Young, President. Willard Richards, Clerk.”

On the twenty-ninth a feast was made by President Young for his immediate associates, some of whom were going on missions, others were designed to stay on the frontiers to conduct and bring up the emigration; while the President himself was about to lead the vanguard of the people to the mountains.

In compliance with his appointment, Elder Orson Pratt, with his first wife and three children, left Winter Quarters about the middle of May, 1848. He took passage upon a boat to St. Louis from which place he resumed his journey to Liverpool, where he and his family arrived, on the twenty-sixth of July, after a prosperous voyage of nineteen days from New York.

About the time Elder Pratt left Winter Quarters all the people were in a bustle there, some preparing for missions, others for the long and tedious trip across the great plains to the mountains, and many others, who were not prepared to fit out for the valleys, were busily engaging themselves cultivating the pottawattamie lands. The Sunday previous President Young addressed the people and prophesied that the Saints would never be driven from the Rocky Mountains. He blessed those who were going with him to the valley, and those who were to tarry. He also blessed the Pottawattamie lands, whose soil should yield forth in abundance for the sustenance of the pilgrim Saints gathering to their destined homes in the Mountains of Israel.

The migrating Saints, when ready, began moving out. They formed an encampment on the Elk Horn of six hundred wagons. President Young started for the latter place on May 24th to organize this company, the largest Pioneer force which had yet set out to build up the great West. But we need not follow the Pioneers on their second journey through the wilderness of a thousand miles to the mountains. Suffice it to say that this great moving body of Saints arrived safely in the City of the Great Salt Lake, in September, 1848.
Three of the Twelve, namely, Orson Hyde, George A. Smith and Ezra T. Benson were appointed to take the presiding care over the Saints left upon the Pottawattamie lands of which there were about fifteen thousand souls. Their duties also devolved in giving all necessary counsel and instructions to companies arriving from the east, as well as to those who should depart for the west.

Elder Orson Pratt succeeded Elder Orson Spencer in the Presidency of the European Mission and as editor of the Millennial Star, and soon after his arrival in England, the duties incumbent upon these offices fell with no little responsibility upon his shoulders.

The “Star” in announcing the arrival of President Orson Pratt, says: “We are happy in the assurance that thousands will hail the arrival of this beloved Apostle with the liveliest emotions of gratitude and joy… He is fervently desirous to participate in the labors and joys of the British Saints… The intelligence which he brings from the land of Zion is every way cheering.”

On August 15th, 1848, President Orson Pratt issued his “First General Epistle to the Saints throughout England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and adjacent Countries.” The following is a short extract from the same: “It is with feelings of no ordinary kind, that I enter upon the vastly important and highly responsible duties of this mission. I am deeply sensible that it is a matter of no small moment to be entrusted with the watchcare of some forty thousand Saints. To impart to the Saints, to individuals and families, to branches of the Church and conferences, the counsels of life, requires nothing less than the wisdom of God—the inspiration of the Almighty.”

From Father Adam down through the dispensations of the Gospel, is it recorded that a more humble, child-like spirit possessed a servant of God than that which was plainly manifested by this humble Apostle of this “last dispensation” of the Lord, when he assumed the duties of the high and holy calling of the Presidency of the British Mission to which he had been appointed? A servant in very deed! Called to administer the bread of life to a priest-ridden people who knew not the way of salvation; a ruler, leader and counselor; called to occupy an exhalted position over a great branch of the Church of Jesus Christ, yet a servant in the deepest sense of the word; and in such an attitude did Elder Orson Pratt place himself before the British Saints, as the following extract from a synopsis of his remark made at a general conference held in the Music Hall, Camp Field, Manhester, Sunday, August 13th, 1848, will attest:

“I arise, brothers and sisters and friends, to express to you the gratitude of my heart for the manifestation of your feelings, and for your kindness to me at this time; I not only feel grateful to you, but I feel grateful also to my Father in Heaven, for the privilege I now have of rising before so large a congregation of Saints, and of beholding your faces, and standing in your midst, and that we are met in the capacity of a General Conference.

“You have become a great people. In the course of a few years you have swelled your number to tens of thousands; and this calls for the utmost gratitude of the hearts of the servants of God; for he has opened the hearts and the minds of the people in this land to receive the truth, and to obey the message which he has sent from heaven, and to receive the testimony of his servants. Although I feel to rejoice at this time with exceeding great joy, yet I feel as a little child; my heart is melted down with gratitude and thanksgiving to God. I feel my own insufficiency, so far as human wisdom is concerned, for the great and important duties that have been placed upon me, not only by the authorities of this Church on the American continent, but also by the authorities in this land. Were it not that I know there is a God in Israel, and that his arm is sufficient—that this power has been promised, that his aid has always been given to his servants—I should feel at this time constrained to fall down in the dust, and exclaim, Who is sufficient for this work! Surely no person can be sufficient for a work of this nature, without the help and assistance of God. No human arm can guide a church of God, no human arm can administer proper counsel, or direct in all the affairs of the Kingdom of God; but man at all times needs the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; he needs the light that shines from the eternal world, which is given to those who have confidence in God; His arm will be stretched out to assist such in His great work. I feel my own weakness as a man, and would earnestly request of the Church who are now present to support me by their prayers, that I may be a benefit to the Saints in this country. These are the desires of my heart; and I ask your prayers in the name of the Lord, that I may be enabled to give proper instructions in the very moment they are needed, according to the circumstances of the people; that by my administration the Saints throughout this land may be benefited.”

There was a vast congregation of about three thousand people gathered at the conference on this occasion, to whom Elder Pratt had been introduced and over whom he had been nominated to preside by Elder Orson Spencer, before the foregoing remarks were made.

Before closing, President Orson Pratt made some very appropriate remarks eulogistic of the presidential labors of Elder Orson Spencer who had just preceded him in the British Mission. He expressed the satisfaction of himself and also of the authorities of the Church with Brother Spencer, and among other good things said: “He has been an instrument in benefiting the people in this land, by the great and inestimable truths he has published to the Saints in this country—truths that will shine in the presence of God in the great day when the redeemed shall be assembled before His throne—truths that shall stand forever.”

As it was designed that Brother Spencer remain a few months in England, President Pratt chose him as one of his counselors, and then took a vote of confidence, sustenance, and approval, on Elder Spencer’s behalf, for his diligence and great success in the British Islands, and for his better health and future prosperity in the Kingdom of God, which was carried unanimously by a show of hands.

Milando Pratt.

[The Contributor, May 1891]


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