Thursday, July 20, 2017

Additional Lesson about the Miraculous Mormon Migration

A Table in the Wilderness

A Timeline of the Miraculous Mormon Migration West

Shortly after the evacuation of Nauvoo, in a pioneer camp on the west of the Mississippi River, a destitute Mormon mother, Sarah Leavitt*, was confronted by an antagonistic government officer.

"Why, madam," he said, "I see nothing before you but
inevitable destruction in going off into the wilderness among savages, far from civilization, with nothing
but what you can carry in your wagon…I see nothing before you but starvation.”

Quoting Psalm 78:19, Sarah told him, “The Lord [will] spread a table for us in the wilderness…”

The officer was right: there was no chance of success.
And yet the Mormons triumphed.
Here is the timeline of their story.

A statue honoring Sarah Sturdevant Leavitt is located in Santa Clara, Utah

The first American overland pioneers leave Missouri for the Oregon territory. They follow existing trails to Fort Hall in Eastern Idaho, abandon their wagons when the trail ends but safely reach Oregon.


Congress sends Army Captain John C. Fremont on a series of exploratory expeditions to the western territories. Copies of his maps are given to Mormon Church leaders by an Illinois senator. 


 Large numbers of American pioneers are migrating westward to California and Oregon on the Oregon Trail.

--June 27, 1844--

Joseph Smith is murdered at Carthage Jail. Persecutions increase for the Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo.

--October 1845--

The Quincy Convention calls for all Mormons to leave Nauvoo by May of 1846.

A few days later, the Carthage Convention calls for their forced removal by militia, should they fail to meet the deadline.

12,000 saints in Nauvoo and another 2,000-3,000 in the surrounding states must find a new home.

--October 11, 1845-- 

President Brigham Young calls team captains
for the move west and Nauvoo saints begin gathering supplies and making wagons. Saints in other areas are called to gather with them and go west.

--January 1846-- 
John Brown is sent from Nauvoo to collect the families he baptized on his mission three years earlier in Monroe County, Mississippi to join the expedition west. The congregation of saints there includes whites and blacks, some of whom are slaves.

(I'm sorry I put the blue star on Boston instead of New York--
by I'm not sorry enough to fix it!)

Meanwhile, a community of converts on the east coast, too poor to make the overland trek, pools its money to charter the Ship Brooklyn. They will take a dangerous voyage around Cape Horn to the west coast, stopping off in Chile and Hawaii on the way. From there, they will travel to meet the saints at their final destination. Sam Brannan is called to lead the group.

--February 4, 1846--

Because of violence and threats, the first saints leave Nauvoo.

--also February 4, 1846--

The very same day, the Ship Brooklyn leaves New York City with 238 saints living between-decks in 2,500 feet of space. The lower hold is full of cows, pigs, chickens, sawmills, a gristmill, seeds, tools, a printing press and everything they need to set up a civilization from scratch.

--The Nauvoo Covenant--

Time has not been adequate to prepare wagons and supplies for all the saints in Nauvoo. Many do not have the means, having been unable to sell their homes at fair prices. A covenant is made that those who leave first will stop at a safe spot along the trail and send wagons and teamsters back and forth for all those who wish to come. 

By spring, there are over 10,000 saints scattered across Iowa, obtaining jobs to earn money along the way. The Nauvoo Brass Band plays concerts for pay as they travel. Pioneer build temporary settlements with crops planted for those who follow.

Pres. Young calls Jesse Little to go to Washington, D.C. to petition the government for a contract to build roads and forts on their way west in order to finance the trek.

--Early Spring 1846--

The Ship Brooklyn has made it safely around Cape Horn and survived the oppressive heat of the tropical doldrums. Now a huge storm blows it away from Chile, where they have planned to resupply. Instead, the skilled captain steers them to the Juan Fernandez Islands. 
There they are able to obtain fresh water, fish, fruit, potatoes and firewood at a cost hundreds of dollars less than Chilean prices. It is another “table in the wilderness.”

--April 8, 1846--

The first group of Mississippi saints leaves to join the Nauvoo saints and travel to the west. There are 43 in the company.

--May 1, 1846--

The Nauvoo Temple is finally dedicated, although temple work had ceased in February. Over
the winter, 6,000 saints had received their endowments in the completed portions of the Nauvoo Temple. The temple is immediately put up for sale, but no reasonable offer is made.

--May 13, 1846--

The U.S. declares war on Mexico

--May 21, 1846--
Jesse Little arrives in Washington, realizes the government’s focus is now the war, and petitions U.S. President James Polk to contract a Battalion of Mormon men to fight in the war. Polk is highly dubious, but eventually Little wins the contract.

The formation of the Mormon Battalion puts Brigham Young and the Mormons on the same team as the U.S. government at last, and ends the threat of governmental interference on the trek west.

--May 26, 1846--

John Brown and the Mississippi saints arrive in Independence, Missouri, hear wild stories about Mormons killing people in the west, and assume that Brigham Young has gone on ahead of them. They decide to head west to catch up, rather than going north to Nauvoo.

--June 20, 1846--

The Ship Brooklyn stops in Hawaii to deliver a load of cargo. 
12 people have died on the voyage. The U.S. Navy is stationed at Pearl Harbor, preparing for war with Mexico.

--June 29, 1846--

The Nauvoo refugees arrive at the Missouri River.
U.S. Army Captain James Allen meets them & musters 540 men for the Mormon Battalion.
Pres. Young delays the journey west for a year to allow time for the Battalion to earn money. He establishes Winter Quarters in Nebraska.

--July 10, 1846--

Meanwhile, the Mississippi wagon train has hurried all the way to Laramie, Wyoming before a passing traveler tells them that no Mormons are ahead of them on the trail. At the invitation of a trapper, they leave the trail to wait out the winter at Pueblo, Colorado with a group of trappers and their Spanish and Indian wives. They build homes and a log church, and earn corn by working for the trappers.

--July 21, 1846--

The Mormon Battalion leaves Winter Quarters, the only religiously-based military unit in the history of the United States. 
Brigham Young promises them that none will die in battle. 

They head south to be outfitted at Fort Leavenworth.

(There's an itty-bitty green line down from Winter Quarters.)

--July 31, 1846--
After a 24,000-mile voyage, the Ship Brooklyn saints arrive at present-day San Francisco, then just a small town, and find out that an American warship had sailed into the harbor just 3 weeks earlier, and planted a flag. They are back in the United States! They build the community and start farming while they await instruction from Brigham Young.

One passenger later wrote, “Of all the memories of my life, not one is so bitter as that dreary six months’ voyage, in an emigrant ship, round the Horn.” 

--August 7, 1846--  

The Mississippi saints arrive at Pueblo.
John Brown returns east to meet with Pres. Young and then bring more saints from Mississippi. 

--August 1846--

The Mormon Battalion leaves Fort Leavenworth, marching southwest to fight Mexico. They are given a clothing allowance of $42 each ($21,000 total), which they immediately turn over to the Church, opting to wear their old clothes. Through their term of service, they earn $50,000, an enormous sum of money, which finances the pioneer emigration west.

 --September 13, 1846--
The Battle of Nauvoo

Less than 1,000 of the most destitute Mormons remain in Nauvoo, including Hyrum Smith’s widow, Mary Fielding Smith, and her children. These stragglers are attacked by anti-Mormons, and forced to sign the surrender of the city three days later, whereupon they are driven out at gunpoint.

--September 14, 1846--

At Winter Quarters, an 11-man rescue party leaves to bring the last saints out of Nauvoo.

--September 25, 1846--

Reports of the Battle of Nauvoo reach Winter Quarters, and another rescue party is sent with 20 wagons.

--October 9, 1846--

Outside Nauvoo, thousands of exhausted quail suddenly fly into the refugee camp, flopping onto the ground all around the wagons and tents, and even on the arms and the heads of the pioneers.
Even the sick can easily pick up a bird with no resistance at all. The poor, suffering saints eat well that night at a “table in the wilderness.”

--October 1846--

The Mormon Battalion arrives at Santa Fe with many members having falling ill along the way. The sick
Battalion members are sent to Pueblo, Colorado. As they march through the Southwest, the Battalion observes first hand Pueblo and Mexican irrigation and desert pioneering and farming techniques absolutely invaluable to the settlement of The Great Basin.

--October 1846--

John Brown arrives back at Winter Quarters. Pres. Young requests that he enlist several strong Mississippi men to join his advance team and wait to emigrate the rest of the Mississippi saints the next year.

The sick Battalion members arrive at Pueblo.

--October 24, 1846--

Sam Brannan
publishes an early edition of The California Star newspaper, printed on the Mormon press.

--January 9, 1847

The first subscriptions are delivered by hand, or hawked on street corners in San Francisco, and
are sent east and to Great Britain on ships.

--January 1847--

John Brown arrives back in Mississippi. He selects four white men with four black slaves for the journey. Two of the slaves die before reaching Winter Quarters.

--January 22, 1847--

The Mormon Battalion arrives at San Diego, having walked 2,000 miles, the longest military march in history. The war is over, so they are assigned to garrison duty and civic improvement. 20 men have died on the difficult journey, due to sickness or injury, and the men are nearly starved to death, but they have seen no armed conflict.

--April 5, 1847--

The advance pioneer party leaves Winter Quarters, led by Pres. Young. There are 148 in the party, including the four men from Mississippi and an additional black slave sent from the south.

--May 1847--

Seventeen saints from the group waiting at Pueblo watch two weeks for Brigham Young’s arrival on the trail at Fort Laramie.

--June 3, 1847--

. Young’s advance team arrives at Fort Laramie. Those waiting from Pueblo join the group, and one of the apostles in the team goes to Pueblo to bring the rest to the Great Basin.

--June 30, 1847--

Sam Brannan, having made his way back from California, reports to Pres. Young at his camp along the trail.

--July 16, 1847--

The Mormon Battalion
is mustered out of service at Los Angeles and the men begin to make their way north.
Some head straight to the Salt Lake Valley to meet family.
Some go north to San Francisco to join with the Brooklyn saints and earn money to take back to Salt Lake. 

--July 22, 1847--

Happily surprised to find the trail from the Oregon Trail down to the Great Basin has already been blazed (by the Donner party), the first advance party (including John Brown’s strong men) arrives in Salt Lake Valley far ahead of schedule and immediately plants crops.
Two days later, on what is now celebrated as Pioneer Day in Utah, Pres
. Young’s party arrives in Salt Lake Valley. Sam Brannan teaches the Saints to make adobe bricks for houses, a skill he learned in California.

--September 8-11, 1847--

Battalion members find work building a saw mill for John Sutter on the American River near San Francisco.

--Autumn 1847--

The first Battalion
members arrive in the Salt Lake Valley from
Los Angeles.

--January 24, 1848--

Battalion members working at Sutter’s Mill in California discover gold. The location of their biggest find is dubbed “Mormon Island.” Word travels quickly by mouth and ship first to Oregon, Hawaii and Latin America. 

--March 15, 1848--

 The Californian newspaper publishes the first article proclaiming the discovery of gold. 

--June 10, 1848--

Sam Brannan's California Star publishes the cautiously optimistic opinion that there is room for another 50,000 prospectors without ruining the area. Four days later, they suspend publication so that the staff can rush to the gold fields themselves. Eventually tens of thousands around the world rush to California to get rich.

--Summer 1848--

Many more Mormon families emigrate. To avoid harassment from anti-Mormon pioneers, they travel on the north of the Platte River, rather than on the Oregon Trail to the south. This separation contributes to a better survival rate for the Mormons, thanks to the organization and cleanliness of their camps, and the avoidance of cholera contamination left behind
by Oregon Trail travelers.

--Summer 1848--

Insects, frost and drought destroy much of the crop in the Great Basin. The saints nearly starve through the
winter. In the midst of this crisis, Heber C. Kimball, a counselor in the First Presidency, prophesies that “States’ goods would be sold in the streets of Salt Lake City cheaper than in New York, and that the people would be abundantly supplied with food and clothing.”


The California Gold Rush brings many fortune-seekers out west. Merchants race from the east to make a profit off the prospectors; hearing that merchant ships have beat them some overlanders change their minds at Salt Lake City, and sell their wares at extremely low prices in order to lighten their loads and rush ahead to prospect for themselves. The prices are lower than in New York City by half. In addition, prospectors drop tools and supplies all along the trail near Utah in order to pick up speed. It’s another “table in the wilderness.”

--May 25, 1849--

Amasa Lyman arrives in San Francisco and encourages the Brooklyn saints to come to the Salt Lake Valley. Increasing lawlessness in California provides additional incentive. Besides gold-prospecting, Mormons have made money from the prospectors themselves. Alondus Buckland* sells his Buckland House hotel, situated on a corner lot in downtown San Francisco, for an estimated $10,000, donating some to the Church and using some to emigrate his extended family and the rest of his hometown back east.

--July 14, 1849--

The wagon company, later known as “The Gold Train,” leaves for Utah, heavily loaded with gold. It is a dangerous journey, as the company dodges would-be thieves on the busy road.

bout 1/3 of the Brooklyn saints eventually leave California to resettle in Utah.

--September 28, 1849--

“The Gold Train” arrives in Salt Lake City, and nearly $15,000 is deposited in the Church’s bank account. With this money, Pres
. Young establishes the Perpetual Emigration Fund which funds the emigration of an additional 100,000 saints over the following years, mostly from Europe.
60,000-70,000 Mormon pioneers eventually emigrate over land
1869 when the transcontinental railroad is completed.

death rate among the Mormon pioneers is unknown, but is estimated at less than 10% (including the Martin/Willie handcart disaster, and the deaths at Winter Quarters). This is about 5% lower than other pioneers, despite the fact that Mormon wagon trains consisted of many more inexperienced travelers; old, disabled or ill people; and families with young children.

Sarah Leavitt was right. The Lord did prepare a table in the wilderness.

*Sarah Leavitt and Alondus Buckland are both ancestors of mine. Yeah, I'm pretty proud of them.


Stewart R. Wyatt, Sacrament meeting talk, Boise, Idaho, 22 July 2012
Sarah Sturdevant Leavitt, personal history
William G. Hartley, “The Pioneer Trek: Nauvoo to Winter Quarters,” Ensign, June 1997
Joan S. Hamblin, “Voyage of the Brooklyn,” Ensign, July 1997
Leonard J. Arrington, “Mississippi Mormons,” Ensign, June 1977
“Mormon Battalion Fact Sheet,”
Susan Easton Black, “I Have  Question,” Ensign, July 1998
William G. Hartley, “On the Trail in September, Ensign, September 1997
Clair L. Wyatt, The True Story of Nancy Laura Aldrich: Ship Brooklyn Pioneer, 2000
This blog post is available in PowerPoint form. 
E-mail me if you want a copy at

Monday, January 9, 2017

Great D&C Study Aids

You can get the back story on the people and history behind each section of the Doctrine and Covenants called Revelations in Context. On a cell phone, you find it under Library, then Church History. Here's a LINK for it for your computer. Since it's in the Gospel Library, you can directly link excerpts from it into your scriptures!

Another of my very favorite study aids is the excellent book, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants,, by Susan Easton Black, which lists every single person who is mentioned in any revelation, and their back history. Sister Black has dug up so many interesting tidbits that you never get anywhere else.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Doctrine & Covenants Lessons

#1 "Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History"

#2 "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World"

#3 "I Had Seen a Vision"

#4 "Remember the New Covenant, Even the Book of Mormon"

#5 "This is the Spirit of Revelation"

#6 "I Will Tell You in Your Mind and in Your Heart, by the Holy Ghost"

#7 The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel

#8 The Restoration of the Priesthood

#9 "The Only True and Living Church"

#10 "This is My Voice Unto All"

#11 "The Field is White Already to Harvest"

#12 "The Gathering of My People"

#13 "This Generation Shall Have My Word Through You"

#14 The Law of Consecration

#15 "Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts"

#16 "Thou Shalt Offer Up Thy Sacraments Upon My Holy Day"

#17 The Law of Tithing and The Law of the Fast

#18 "Establish a House of God"

#19 The Plan of Salvation

#20 The Kingdoms of Glory

#21 "Looking Forth for the Great Day of the Lord to Come"

#22 The Word of Wisdom

#23 "Seek Learning by Study and Also By Faith"

#24 "Be Not Deceived, But Continue in Steadfastness"

#25 The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood

#26 "Go Ye into All the World"

#27 "They Must Be Chastened and Tried"

#28 "O God, Where Art Thou?"

#29 Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo

#30 Baptism for the Dead

#31 "Sealed...for Time and for all Eternity"

#32 "To Seal the Testimony"

#33 President Brigham Young Leads the Saints

#34: Faith in Every Footstep

Addtional Lesson About the Miraculous Mormon Migration

#35 "A Mission of Saving"

#36 "The Desert Shall Rejoice and Blossom as the Rose"

#37 "We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet"

#38 "In Mine Own Way"

#39 "The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn to Their Fathers"

Addition to D&C Lesson #39 The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead

#40 Finding Joy in Temple and Family History Work

#41 Every Member A Missionary

#42 Continuing Revelation

#43 "Take Upon You My Whole Armour"

#44 "Being Good Citizens"

#45 The Family is Ordained of God

#46 Zion: The Pure in Heart