Mormon Trail AssociationMormon Trail Association 1849 Emigration

1849 Emigration

Outfitting Station Departure Captain
Arrival in SLC
Winter Quarters June 6 Orson Spencer
Sept. 22
Winter Quarters July 12 Allen Taylor
Oct. 1
Winter Quarters July 10 Silas Richards
Oct. 12
Winter Quarters July 4 George A. Smith/Ezra T. Benson
Oct. 27
Old Ft. Kearney (Nebraska City) April 19 Howard Egan (Independent)
Aug. 7
Other companies: Ezra T. Benson, Unidentified (Bashore references), Livingston/Kinkead (freight).

Migration was small, but several independent companies brought the total to nearly 2,000. About 30,000 gold seekers passed through SLC. Fully 42,000 emigrants crossed the plains in 1849. Creation of a Perpetual Emigration Fund (PEF) was discussed in October Conference.

Old Fort Kearny

The increase in overland travel after 1842 resulted in the establishment of a chain of military posts across the West to protect the travelers. Early in 1846 the first of these posts was built by the army on a hill looking down on the Missouri River. This location near the mouth of Table Creek was explored and selected by Colonel Stephen W. Kearny. A two-story blockhouse was erected about 1/2 block west of here. Subsequently, a number of log huts were built as temporary shelter for the troops. Soldiers returning across the plains from the war with Mexico wintered there.

The Table Creek site was not on the main route of overland traffic and relatively few emigrants passed the fort. The War Department, in 1847, selected a new site on the widely used main branch of the Oregon Trail. Fort Childs, later designated as Fort Kearny, was built near the Platte River, in present day Kearney County.

The Old Fort Kearny area remained important as the beginning of a secondary route of the Oregon Trail, the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny cut off. Nebraska City was started at the site. The blockhouse was used as a printing office, justice court, jail, drugstore and butcher shop. A replica of it was dedicated in 1938.

Thousands of emigrants, frustrated by the big crowds trying to cross by ferry at St. Joseph, Mo. elected to go north overland to start their trek at such places as Duncan's Ferry, Oregon, Savannah, a place called Iowa Point, or a point near or opposite Old Fort Kearney. Some even went as far north as Council Bluffs before crossing the Missouri River.

Overland emigration to Calilornia began to file up the Platte Valley in 1849. Bellevue, Plattsmouth and Fort Kearney (Nebraska City) were all ferrying points on the Missouri and had a brisk trade.

Bands of gold-seekers crossed the Missouri at Old Fort Kearney (now Nebraska City) at Plattsmouth, at Bellevue and at Council Bluffs. Another great stream flowed from the southeast,
striking the Platte at (New) Fort Kearney, previously called Fort Childs, which had before that time been established on the south side of the Platte, opposite Grand Island. In 1850, a military road was established leading from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Kearney, on the Platte.

Erastus Snow

After about six weeks' labor here, laying out the City and Fort, plowing and planting fields, and building cabins around the Fort block, I started with the rear camp of the Pioneers on the return trip, on Aug. 26th, 1847, and on the last day of October reached Winter Quarters on the Missouri river, where I had left my family, having been about six weeks without tasting bread. The sweet joy of this meeting was mingled with deep grief at the loss of a dear little daughter, Mary Minerva, who had died during my absence. Many of our people remaining at Winter Quarters were becoming comparatively destitute of clothing and other necessaries to fit them for a march into the desert; and it was determined, in the councils of the Church, to send a few Elders into the Eastern and Southern States to solicit contributions (from the benevolent) of money or clothing in aid of our poor, most of whom had received little or nothing for their farms, homes and worldly possessions which they had left behind them in Illinois. It fell to my lot to accompany Ezra T. Benson, one of the Twelve, into the Eastern States, to New York, Boston, and many other Eastern towns and cities, soliciting aid. Some received us kindly and contributed money and clothing; but by far the greater proportion of the people turned a cold shoulder to us. We left Winter Quarters, January, 1848, returned April 29th. Sometimes we were together, at other times we were separated, operating in different places. On my return trip I passed through Ohio and visited the Kirtland Temple, and at St. Louis fell in company with several returning Elders and a company of Saints, with whom I ascended the Missouri river. After our return to Winter Quarters there was a general stir and bustle of getting ready for starting with our families to Great Salt Lake valley, and gathering our year's supplies of seeds and provisions. Most of my oxen had perished during the winter, or had been eaten up by the Indians, and I was under the necessity of yoking up my cows and all my young stock to work with the few oxen I had left, to haul the wagons for the journey. I traveled in company with Prests. Young and Kimball and had a very pleasant and agreeable journey, my teams holding out well and my family enjoying good health. We reached our destination with much joy on the 20th of September. Soon after our arrival in the valley, I was appointed one of the presidency of the Stake, and during the following winter (Feb. 12, 1849), I was called and ordained into the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, together With Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo Snow and Franklin D. Richards. In my ordination, President Brigham Young acted as spokesman. I continued to labor in the ministry, in common with my brethren, though all were obliged to labor with their hands during the week, in opening up farms and building houses for our families. We all wintered in the Old Fort, which had been commenced and partly built by the Pioneers, using our wagon beds chiefly for our sleeping rooms. During the spring of 1849, we began to move out on our lots, divided the city into Wards, and began to fence by Wards. During the summer, I built chiefly with my own hands, two rooms on my lot, one of adobe, the other of logs, separated from each other for a shed between, and got my family moved into them, with some wagon beds by the side of them for sleeping apartments. This year the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company was organized, and the system of emigration inaugurated, which has so largely contributed to the gathering of our people and the building up of Utah Territory. I was appointed one of the committee of three in gathering funds to put into the hands of Bishop Hunter to send back to our poor brethren left on the Missouri river. At that time our settlements extended only to Provo on the south and to Ogden on the north. We gathered about $2,000. About this time, also, I participated in the organizing of the provisional government of the State of Deseret. At the semi-annual conference held in October, 1849, I was appointed on a mission to Denmark, to open the door of the gospel to the Scandinavian people. At the same time, Elder John Taylor was appointed to France, Lorenzo Snow to Italy, Franklin D. Richards to England [also new apostles at same time as Erastus Snow], with several Elders accompanying each of us. We took our departure from Salt Lake City on the 19th of October. Our little company consisted of 12 wagons, 42 horses and mules, 1 carriage and 35 men. This included a couple of our merchants, going to St. Louis after goods [Livingston and Kinkead], and a number of brethren who went east on business. Shadrach Roundy was appointed captain, and Jedediah M. Grant captain of the guard. Bishop Edward Hunter was also one of the company. The chief incident of the journey was a charge made upon our party by about two hundred Cheyenne warriors during our noon halt on the Platte, forty miles above Laramie, on the 12th of November. They were on the lookout for a war party of Crows and thought to gobble up our little party for pastime, but we did not quite relish the sport, and having about one hundred and thirty shots with us, in about one minute's time we formed a line of battle, under the direction of our gallant captain, Jedediah M. Grant, in front of our wagons, with our animals behind them on the river's bank, and when every man's finger was upon his piece ready to fire, the savage horsemen were brought to a sudden standstill. A parley commenced, which resulted in their giving us the road, and they withdrawing to their camps, while we made a good afternoon's march. During the night following, a party of Crows succeeded in making a descent upon their camp and running off a number of their horses. We went down on the south side of the Platte, and reached the Missouri river, at a point where now stands Nebraska City, on the 7th of December, in a blinding snow storm which had lasted about fourteen hours. The snow was about three feet deep when we reached the old barracks (Old Fort Kearney) on the west side of the river. And how joyful we were at finding there cabins to shelter ourselves and shelter for our animals. We held a meeting that evening and gave God thanks for our successful journey and our safe arrival over the bleak and dreary plains. The Missouri river was full of mush ice, and we saw no means of crossing it. We all joined in prayer that night that the Lord would cause the ice to congeal, and make a bridge for us to cross over. When we woke up the next morning, the river was gorged with ice a little below us, and was piling up with floating ice. The second day we all passed safely over with our horses and wagons, and the day after the ice broke up again and there was no more crossing the river for three weeks after. After a visit to Kanesville, about fifty miles up the river, where the Saints received us with much joy, most of the missionaries journeyed together till we reached St. Louis, whence we expected to take different directions through the States to visit the remnants of the Saints, remaining in the States and gathering means for crossing the water.

Charles A. Bodwell & Livingston and Kinkead

Charles A. Bodwell was reared on the home farm, and the education which he received in the district schools was supplemented by a course in Farmington Academy. With the close of his school days he determined to carry out a plan which had been forming in his mind for some time, which was to take up the study of drugs, and in pursuit of this idea he went to Harford, Conn., and entered the drug store of Lee and Butler, well known in the wholesale and retail drug trade. Ultimately the business was purchased by his brother, Woodbridge Bodwell, who after three years sold the business to another brother, George Bodwell. Charles A. Bodwell continued in the employ of his brother until March, 1849, when he went to St. Louis, Mo., where he joined a party bound for Salt Lake City, under the management of Livingston & Kinkead. The stock of merchandise which they brought with them was the first general assortment of this line that was ever opened up in Salt Lake. From Omaha the party traveled in company with a Mormon train of one hundred wagons for freighting the goods, and after being six months on the way, finally reached their destination. By this time the Mormons were in sad need of supplies, having nothing except what they brought with them when the territory was opened in 1847. The owners of the stock persuaded Mr. Bodwell to remain in their employ and the following spring, 1850, he and Mr. Livingston returned east for more goods to replenish their stock. The trip east was made in an army ambulance with $20,000 in gold dust under the seat. The Pawnees tried to stampede them at Oak Grove, but Mr. Bodwell drew a revolver and a moment of hesitation on the part of the Indians gave him the mastery of the situation. Mr. Livingston's duty was the purchasing of the goods, while Mr. Bodwell selected and purchased the cattle for the train. The latter were taken from Independence, Mo., to Table Creek, at old Fort Kearney, whither Livingston had brought the merchandise by steamer. At this point the wagon train was made up and put in charge of Trainmaster A. O. Smoot, prominent in Mormon circles and probably the father of Senator Smoot. The leaders of the enterprise preceded the wagon-train and reached Salt Lake City in twenty-four days. Mr. Bodwell remained in Salt Lake City until the spring of 1851, when he went to Fort Hall, from there he went to Thomas Fork, Idaho, east of Soda Springs, and close to the Utah line. There he built a toll-bridge over the Thomas fork, a branch of Bear river, by means of which he hoped to reap an income from the immigrants who where then going westward. Travel that year, however, proved exceptionally light, and after conducting the business for about a year, he gave it up. A better fortune awaited his successors, for the following year they made about $15,000 on the toll of immigrants.

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