Friday, December 24, 2021

2022 Supplements


Lesson supplements for all of the standard works can be found at the top of the home page. 

Please click on those links to find the appropriate lesson.

Best Wishes for a Joyous New Year!
Whether we get to have "precendented times" again
or whether it's another year of These Unprecedented Times,
the gospel of Jesus Christ (love) is the answer to all problems (fear).

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Bonus Lessons, vaguely related to The Family Proclamation

I hold the copyright to this photo of the Logan Temple 
taken earlier this month, but you are most welcome 
to copy and use it.

I don't have time or ability to put together a lesson on The Family Proclamation right now, but here are some great lessons that are vaguely related to it.

The Family Proclamation gives us the ideals for family life. But...what if your family is dysfunctional? Is there hope for you? Well, there was for Vaughan J. Featherstone and Abraham the Prophet.

And I just really love sharing this story from Church history of a family man who turned his life over to God, helped many families, and promoted family values among all his employees: Jesse Knight

Monday, December 6, 2021

Official Declarations 1 & 2


After living the law of plural marriage for several decades, it was shock to members of the Church in Utah to have the practice halted by President Woodruff. They had sacrificed so much to live this law!

“It was just a coincidence that the doctrine of polygamy was abandoned on my birthday,” writes polygamous wife Annie Clark Tanner. “My first birthday was an event made possible by it [having been born the child of a polygamous union]; my whole life had been shaped according to it; and my faith that it was Divine and everlasting was so strong that I compare it with the faith of the three Hebrews who were to be cast into a fiery furnace for their convictions.

“But now I was beginning to wonder: Is God ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever?’

“I can remember so well the relief that I felt when I first realized that the Church had decided to abandon its position. For all of my earlier convictions [that polygamy was necessary for highest exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom] a great relief came over me. At that moment I compared my feelings of relief with the experience one has when the first crack of dawn comes after a night of careful vigilance over a sick patient. At such a time daylight is never more welcome; and now the dawn was breaking for the Church. I suppose its leaders may have realized, at last, that if our Church had anything worthwhile for mankind, they had better work with the government of our country rather than against it” (Annie Clark Tanner, A Mormon Mother: An Autobiography, Tanner Trust Fund, Salt Lake City, Utah: 1991, 129-130).

Annie Clark Tanner

(“Come,Follow Me” has links to many excellent, frank, scholarly essays on the topics of both polygamy and the Manifesto. It is well worth reading every one of them.)

From our vantage point 130 years in their future, we have no difficulty accepting the Manifesto—instead, we have difficulty accepting the practice of polygamy to begin with. Some of us would like to forget it ever happened.

Later in life, Sister Tanner explains to her posterity why so many members entered into plural marriages:

“If one can picture the sociological conditions in Utah Territory when the principle of polygamy was openly endorsed by the Church in 1852, one can better understand the reason for its development. Hundreds of young women came from the overcrowded section in the old country. They were thoroughly converted to the Gospel. To be the wife of a fine leader in Israel was the height of their ambition. Perhaps too, the effect of the increase in numbers it furnished to the Church was considered of some advantage.

“It must be remembered that the western immigration movement brought to Utah all kinds of people. Concerning some of the men folks, girls comparing their chances for matrimony, often said of a Mormon leader, ‘I’d rather have his little finger than the whole of a man outside the Church...’

“Many of the finest characters in Utah and surrounding states owe their existence to this doctrine of the Mormon Church. It is often remarked that all the headaches and heartaches caused by polygamy have, in some measure, been compensated by the fine…results [in the children].

"The women of the Church living this principle felt themselves greatly favored above nonmember women of other parts of our country. They felt it a great privilege to have a husband of their choice, a home, and a family" (Tanner, 23-24).

Sister Tanner noted that leadership and success was generally observed in the children of a polygamist’s family. And as those practicing polygamy were highly religious, “religious training was the rule in a polygamous home” (Tanner, 25).


Although she boldly asserted (and evidence of the day agrees) that “No one could make the women of Utah feel that they had an inferior position,” she also acknowledged the extreme difficulties of living in polygamy.

“I am sure that women would never have accepted polygamy had it not been for their religion. No woman ever consented to its practice without a great sacrifice on her part(Tanner, 132).

I’m not sure we will ever be able to understand why God commanded the practice of polygamy among the Latter-day Saints in this life, but the best thoughts I have found on it are offered by the extremely bright mind of former BYU professor, Valerie Hudson Cassler:

“God is not indifferent concerning how his children marry.  He actively and severely restricts the practice of polygamy, while leaving monogamy unrestricted. One can be ‘destroyed’ for practicing polygamy without God’s sanction, becoming ‘angels to the devil’ and ‘bring[ing] your children unto destruction, and their sins heaped upon your heads at the last day,’ but no such punishment attends the practice of monogamy (Jacob 2:33; 3:5-6, 10-12)…

“Joseph Smith restored marriage for ‘time and all eternity’ (D&C 132:18), which we now colloquially call ‘temple marriage.’ In restoring the principle of temple marriage, Joseph Smith restored both the general law of marriage and the lawful exception [of polygamous temple marriage] as elucidated by Jacob centuries before...

“No matter what the human inventory of emotions toward polygamy--joy, sorrow, or joy and sorrow mixed--the most mature and most knowledgeable viewpoint is that of the Lord, who appears to be stating that he views it as an Abrahamic sacrifice.”

For more on what an Abrahamic sacrifice is, please go to the link to read the rest of the article; it is too dense with scriptures for me to justly write an overview of it, but it is the best explanation I’ve ever read and was a great comfort to my mind.


Please see my previous post on Blacks and the Priesthood here:

Sadly, there was much persecution, abuse, and racism in the United States during the now 191 history of the Restoration, including among the highly-imperfect members of the Church. Although some of the few Latter-day Saints who were slaveholders were "kind," (if such a thing cane be said of someone who is a slaveholder), some were not. But, acknowledging this, I would like to face forward in this blog post and focus on how we can be united. I hope the day comes that we don’t even use the word “race” in referring to different colors of skin and different ethnic backgrounds. We are all one race, the human race. For the solution to the problem labeled "racism," there is no better source than Elder Ahmad Corbitt, Philadelphia native, convert to the Church along with his parents and 9 siblings, former trial attorney, past director of the New York Office of Public and International Affairs for the Church, and presently First Counselor in the Young Men's General Presidency.

Ahmad Corbitt

Speaking on a podcast posted this week Elder Corbitt said, “I believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…is the most empowered and best positioned to bring to pass racial unity and harmony throughout the family of God, among all the international organizations in the world.” [Firstly,] our apostles and prophets have the power and the keys to unify all of God’s children throughout the world of whatever background to become one in Christ. Secondly…the Church is…authorized, empowered, and positioned to effect [the] gathering [of Israel]…from all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.” (See D&C 45:69,71.)

“If we, together, look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, ‘having our hearts knit together in unity and love one toward another,’ we…can create a culture of total unity and inclusivity in the Lord’s church in preparation for the Second Coming…[See Mosiah 18:21.] Look forward with an eye of faith and see it! It’s prophesied and it’s promised!…Then do the things that lead to that kind of outcome…

"Be careful of a lot of online stuff which can be very strident and bitter and purport to be…carrying the banner of unity and racial harmony but kind of go about it in the world’s way rather than in the Savior’s way…Unity among God’s children (think of 4th Nephi, think of Moses 7, and the City of Enoch and so on)—that’s God’s work!”

Elder Corbitt points out that the Book of Mormon is the one book of scripture in which God tells one group of people “to reach across a color barrier” to another group of people. The sons of Mosiah reached across the barrier to the Lamanites to bring them to Christ, and the prophet Samuel reached across the barrier back to the Nephites to do the same. They always referred to those “others” as their “brothers.”

“So a telltale sign of a truly converted person who really is seeking the mind of Christ is that they will see people of different backgrounds, different appearances as their brothers and sisters and they will refer to them as such.” (Ahmad Corbitt, with Hank Smith and John Bytheway, “Follow Him: A Come Follow Me Podcast,” Episode 50, Part II, available to watch on YouTube here: or listen to it on any podcast app.) Conversely, f you catch yourself calling another political, cultural, religious, or ethnic group "them" and feeling at enmity with "them," you have some changing to do in order to build Zion. 

(You may also want to check out "Making Sense of the Church's History on Race," by W. Paul Reeve.)


Revelations will change the Church, alter our belief systems, implement new policies and remove old ones as we are ready for more light and knowledge and as circumstances in the world change. Of course, they will! We would have no need of a prophet otherwise. But the doctrine of Christ is solid (2 Nephi 31) and His love is sure (Romans 8:35-39). If we pray to be strive to obey to the best of our ability, and if we seek to be filled with His love, we will be blessed.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Wherever we find ourselves in life and in the history of the House of Israel and the Restoration of the Church, whatever color our skin or whatever principles and practices are in force during our lives, we will be blessed if we keep the commandments to our best ability. (See Galatians 3:26-29.) Any sacrifices we make will be compensated so that we can feel satisfaction in our efforts in the things that mattered most. As Annie Clark Tanner wrote:

"It is but a small part that the average person contributes to improve mankind. My life has been simple, full of love, devotion, and service for my family. I might have thought mine a hard row to hoe had not the plants I cultivated responded so magnificently to the culture I gave them" ( 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Doctrine and Covenants 138

(Originally published October 24, 2009--my very first blog post!)


In the year 1918, Joseph F. Smith was the President of the Church, and his son, Hyrum Mack Smith, was one of the apostles. Joseph had a very close attachment to his son Hyrum, and always had. Hyrum had been ordained to the apostleship when he was only 29; now he was 45. He had recently returned from the harrowing experience of being the President of the European Mission and finding himself behind enemy lines in Germany when World War I broke out. Now, in January of 1918, he suddenly became ill and died, leaving his wife with four young children, and another one due in the fall.

Hyrum Mack Smith (left) with his parents, 
Sarah and Joseph F. Smith

The year 1918 was a bad year for almost everyone. Besides the fact that World War I was well underway, causing death and destruction around the globe, another even greater catastophe struck. On March 11th, the company cook at Fort Riley, Kansas reported in sick with a fever, sore throat, and a headache. He was quickly followed by another soldier with similar complaints. By noon, the camp's hospital had counted over 100 ill soldiers. By the end of the week, the number reached 500.

The American soldiers shipping out to Europe to fight against Germany that spring did not realize that they carried a weapon more deadly than rifles, bombs, or cannons. The virus earned the name "Spanish Influenza" because eight million Spaniards died of it in May of that year. The Spanish Influenza killed faster and with less mercy than any weapon of war. It hit people from age 20-40 the hardest. In a matter of hours, a person could go from strapping good health to flat in bed unable to walk. Patients felt as if they had been beaten all over with a club. Fevers would reach 105 degrees, causing the victims to become delirious and hallucinate. In June, Great Britain reported 31,000 cases. By summer, the flu had spread to Russia, North Africa, China, Japan, the Philippines, and New Zealand.

The tide of the illness waned over the summer in the U.S., only to return with a fury in the fall. At Camp Devens, near Boston, it was reported that the dead bodies were "stacked about the morgue like cordwood." In one day there, 63 men died.

On September 24, in Utah, Hyrum Mack Smith's widow delivered her baby, but she died of the birthing process, leaving the prophet's five little grandchildren orphans. Many other Utahns lost loved ones at the same time, as that was the very week the Spanish Influenza hit Utah.

The War ended in November of 1918, but the flu raged on. In one week that month, the town of Brevig Mission, Alaska lost 85% of its population to the flu. 30,000 San Franciscans took to the streets to celebrate the end of the war. As over 2,000 citizens of their city had died of the influenza, the revelers were required by law to wear face masks. (Sound familiar?) On November 21st, sirens announced that it was now safe to remove the masks. The next month, 5,000 new cases of influenza were reported in San Francisco.

December 22nd was appointed by the Church leaders as a day of fasting "for the arrest and speedy suppression by Divine Power of the desolating scourge that is passing over the earth."

Then, as quickly and mysteriously as it came, the Spanish Influenza left. It waned in mid-winter (January), with a slight resurgence in the spring, never to be seen again. To this day, neither the cause nor the cure is scientifically known. The death toll in the U.S. was 675,000--10 times the number of Americans killed in the war, and 55,000 more than were killed in the Civil War. Half of the U.S. soldiers who died in Europe died of influenza, rather than of violence. Exact numbers cannot be found, but very possibly 50 million people worldwide died of influenza. The Spanish Influenza was the most devastating epidemic in world history. It killed more in one year than the Bubonic Plague killed in four.


It was during this year of devastation that the Great Vision of the Redemption of the Dead was given from Heaven to soothe the souls of mankind. President Joseph F. Smith had been confined to his bed for six months of 1918, suffering from pneumonia, and was very near death himself. He was not able to attend to the logistics of running the Church, but his enfeebled physical state made him even more capable of attending to the things of the Spirit. The afterlife was a topic utmost in his mind all year, as it was for people all around the world. President Smith had been especially close to this topic all his life, as his father, Hyrum Smith, had been killed when he was five, his mother, Mary Fielding, had died when he was in his early teens, and of his 49 children (44 biological and 5 adopted), 14 had died (nearly one-third). Because he had meditated, researched, taught, and testified about the redemption of the dead so faithfully all his life, and because he was currently pondering the scriptures on the matter, he was prepared and blessed to witness first-hand in a vision, exactly what happens to people after they die. Through this vision to President Smith, the Lord comforted the saints around the world who were suffering intensely because of the loss of their loved ones and the fear of dying themselves.

President Joseph F. Smith's family in 1898
President Smith wrote the revelation down two days after he witnessed it. Within weeks, the Quorum of the Twelve had voted to accept it as a revelation. Today this vision is in our Doctrine and Covenants as Section 138. The Great Vision of the Redemption of the Dead was an answer to the questioning prayers of many, many of Heavenly Father's children, received, written, and accepted as revelation in October 1918, a month when 195,000 Americans died of influenza, the deadliest month in the history of the United States. It is often in the most hopeless of situations that God reveals His love and His plans in visions of hope. And now all of us have the comforting knowledge that our departed parents, friends, and loved ones are still alive, involved in helping others, and very much active in teaching or learning the gospel though they have left our dimension.

Joseph F. and Julina Smith

Be sure to check out the December 2009 Ensign, which has a wonderful article by BYU professor George S. Tate on President Joseph F. Smith, his intimate acquaintance with death, the catastrophic loss of life in World War I and the Spanish Influenza, and the great vision of the redemption of the dead.  It is a wonderful piece of writing, with additional details on the family deaths, and some beautifully poetic journal entries President Smith wrote in his loss. It also tells us that just before the pandemic mysteriously waned in January of 1919 and then disappeared for good (with just a brief resurgence the following spring), the Church leaders had designated December 22 as a day of fasting "for the arrest and speedy suppression by Divine Power of the desolating scourge that is passing over the earth." (George S. Tate, "I Saw the Hosts of the Dead," Ensign, December 2009, p. 54-59)

For a delightful accounting of Joseph F. Smith's intimate method of parenting, please see "The Fathering Practices of Joseph F. Smith," by Mark D. Ogletree, available at BYU Archives.

(Sources: Arnold K. Garr,, Encyclopedia of Latter-day History; Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet (Gospel Scholars Series); Molly Billings,; "American Experience" at; and "Grandpa Bill's General Authority Pages" at

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Doctrine and Covenants 136, part 3: The Miraculous Story of Latter-day Saint Migration West

There are dozens of stories of miracles that occurred in the lives of individual Mormon pioneers. These build our faith, and encourage us to know that God is there for us in our personal challenges. But when my brother laid out, in a sacrament meeting talk, the overall picture of the Latter-day Saint Migration--how Heavenly Father arranged for different groups involved in different journeys from different places to work together in an intricate and complicated fashion to accomplish the establishment of Zion in the Great Basin--my faith was strengthened exponentially! Each of these groups--the overland pioneers, the ocean pioneers, the southern pioneers, and the Mormon Battalion--went through their own excruciating trials and terrors, and yet the Lord was working through them all to create a giant miracle.

I wanted to see this miracle visually, and I wanted to be able to comprehend and remember it, to be able to tell it from memory, so I laid it out in a timeline with maps. I color-coded the groups on the map and in the text (blue for the seafaring saints, red for the main body of overland pioneers, gold for the Mississippi saints, and green for the military group). I filled in more details as I discovered them, and each time, my faith was strengthened. Once I saw the timeline of the Latter-day Saint Migration, it became very difficult to believe that it could have been accomplished without Divine planning.  I recalled times in my own life where I was stuck crossing a trackless prairie of problems, entirely unaware of the benevolent machinations of my Heavenly Father in other places and in other people's lives that would all come together to create a miracle that I would later see and comprehend.

My trust and faith in my Heavenly Father has been strengthened through this study, and I hope yours will be as well.

This blog post is available in PowerPoint form. E-mail me if you want a copy; I'd love for you to share it with your ward or branch!

A Table in the Wilderness
A Timeline of the Miraculous Latter-day Saint 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 Sturtevant Leavitt is located in Santa Clara, Utah

On the base of her statue, excerpts of her testimony are inscribed.


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 will soon be homeless.

--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. The plan is that they will all go together in one gigantic 2,500-wagon train in an organized fashion.

--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. Most of the black saints 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. The organized plan is abandoned, and there are eventually three exoduses over the following 9 months or so.

--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. Pioneers 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 blown nearly to Africa before finding trade winds to blow her back to the Cape. She's made it safely around Cape Horn, chipping ice ahead of her in the water, and she's survived the oppressive heat of the tropical doldrums. Now a huge storm blows her away from Chile, where the passengers had planned to resupply. So instead, the 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. They ask $200,000 and years later finally receive $5,000.

Even while in this distress, a few men are called on missions to Europe straight from the refugee camps.

--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. It is a very bold move, considering the government had just forced the Mormons to surrender all their weapons the year before because of the conflict in Missouri. Polk is highly dubious, but amazingly, Little convinces him and 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 very real threat of governmental interference on the trek west.

--May 26, 1846--

John Brown and the Mississippi saints arrive in Independence, Missouri, the jumping-off point for all travel to the west, 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 go 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 (it's a busy road these days) 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 the group of trappers and their Spanish and Indian wives. 

--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! 

One passenger later writes, “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.” 

San Francisco immediately becomes an overwhelmingly Mormon community. They start farming while they await instruction from Brigham Young.

--August 7, 1846--  

The Mississippi saints arrive at Pueblo with plenty of summer left to build homes and a log church, earning food by working for the trappers.

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, with her children, as well as Truman O. Angell, the future architect of the Salt Lake, St. George and Logan Temples. 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, knowing nothing about the attack.

--September 25, 1846--

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

--October 6, 1846

The rescue party arrives at the "poor camps" outside Nauvoo to find the situation much more desperate than they are prepared to meet. The rescue captain, Orville Allen, sends some of his men into the surrounding area to purchase more supplies. Meanwhile the people are starving.

--October 9, 1846--

Thousands of exhausted quail suddenly fly into the refugee camp, flopping onto the ground all around the wagons and tents, and even onto the arms and the heads of the pioneers. 
Even the sick can easily pick up a bird with no resistance at all. The suffering saints eat well that day at a “table in the wilderness.” The quail stop coming at 3:00 p.m. The men arrive back with the supplies and the rescue team heads back with the first group at 4:30.

--October 1846--

The Mormon Battalion arrives at Santa Fe. Many members have fallen ill along the way. The sick
Battalion members are sent to Pueblo, Colorado.

--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 to find the Mississippi saints waiting there--surprise! To add to the reunion, the leader of the sick contingent is James Brown, another missionary who served in Monroe, Mississippi. 

--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. The other two are brothers, Oscar Crosby and Hark Lay, who are owned by different masters.

--January 22, 1847--

The Mormon Battalion arrives at San Diego, having walked 2,000 miles, the longest military march in history.  It has been an almost unimaginably difficult journey. The war is over, so they are assigned to garrison duty and civic improvement. 20 men have died on the journey due to sickness or injury, and all 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 Mormon slave from the south already there (a friend of the other two) named Green Flake. Green remains faithful all his life, and later works as a servant in the home of Brigham Young.

(Green Flake)

--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, Amasa Lyman, 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 get on the trail back to Winter Quarters to get family.
Others go north to San Francisco to join with the Brooklyn saints in the biggest Mormon community in the west, and earn money to take back to Salt Lake. 

--July 22, 1847--

Happily surprised to find the cut-off from the Oregon Trail down to the Great Basin has already been blazed (by the Donner party, who were following bad advice about it being a great shortcut to California), the first advance party (including the three black slaves) 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--

About 100
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. They are able to teach the saints invaluable skills for desert farming and irrigation which they learned from the Pueblo Indians and the Mexicans as they toiled through the southwest.

--January 24, 1848--

Gold is discovered at Sutter's Mill. The location of the biggest find is dubbed “Mormon Island” because of the Mormons who worked there. 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. This news is dispatched back east by Mormon Battalion express riders. 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 tools of the settlers in Salt Lake City are wearing out with no chance of replacement. 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 to San Francisco, some overlanders change their minds, head down to 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. The presence of the prospectors also greatly inflates the prices the Mormon retailers and tradesmen can charge. In addition, prospectors drop tools and supplies all along the trail near Utah in order to lighten their loads and speed their journey, knowing they can buy more in California. Mormon men go along the trail and pick up amazing amounts of tools, wagons, stoves, even food like beans and bacon. 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. 

Most of them are converts from the European Mission.

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.


Stewart R. Wyatt, Sacrament meeting talk, Boise, Idaho, 22 July 2012
Sarah Sturtevant 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 a Question,” Ensign, July 1998
William G. Hartley, “On the Trail in September," Ensign, September 1997

•"The Excitement and Enthusiasm of Gold Washing Still Continues--Increases," California Star, accessed at  The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
Clair L. Wyatt, The True Story of Nancy Laura Aldrich: Ship Brooklyn Pioneer, 2000

•Richard E. Bennett, We’ll Find the Place: The Mormon Exodus, 1846-1848, Deseret Book

•Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray, One More River to Cross, Deseret Book

•Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, Deseret Book