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Brigham Scolds His Soggy Followers, Hopes to Stamp Out Fires of Iniquity

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 05/29/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon Pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

May 29, 1847

More miserable drizzling rain greeted the pioneer company this morning, and because the third and fourth Tens failed to put guards out last night the cattle strayed several miles. When the rain finally subsided, the horn sounded to round up the teams. Thomas Bullock complained he was forced to walk two miles and got soaking-wet feet looking for his animals. After all the oxen were hitched, the men were summoned inside the camp circle for a meeting. Bullock called the camp roll and all were present but John Hancock and Andrew Gibbons, who were hunting, and Elijah Newman and Nathaniel Fairbanks, who though ill and confined to wagons answered to their names.

It was a stern-faced Brigham Young who stood in the Revenue Cutter to address the camp. He got right to the point: "As far as pursuing our journey with the company in the spirit you possess--I am about to revolt against it!" Barely concealing his anger and frustration, Young continued: "Nobody has told me what has been going on in the camp, but I have known it all the while. I have been watching its movements, its influence, its effects, and I know the result if it is not put a stop to."

He paused to allow his words to sink in, and asked a rhetorical question. "Now that we are beyond the power of those who would persecute us, what has the devil to work upon? Upon the spirits of the men in the camp! I do not mean to bow down to the spirit in this camp which is rankling the brethren and which will lead to knockdowns and perhaps to the use of the knife to cut each other's throats, if not put a stop to.

You say you want a little exercise to pass away the time in the evenings, but if you can't tire yourselves enough with a day's journey without dancing every night, carry your guns on your shoulders and walk, and carry your wood to camp, instead of lounging and sleeping in your wagons. Well, you will play cards, you will play checkers, you will play dominoes, and, if you had the privilege, and were where you could get whiskey, you would be drunk half the time and in one week quarrel, get to high words, draw knives to kill each other." And another thing, he said, "Stop your swearing, and your profane language--for it is in this camp--I know it and have known it."

Now Young's tone became somber. "I understand that there are several in this camp who do not belong to the church. I will stand up for you and protect all your rights; but you shall not trample on the rights of others, nor on our priesthood. If you seek to introduce iniquity into this camp and trample on the priesthood, I swear to you, you shall never go back to tell the tale. I will leave you where you will be safe. Now, if there is any man who chooses to go back, now is the time to say so." Young then asked the members of the priesthood to signify their obedience and loyalty to the camp. It was done unanimously.

After remarks by members of the Council of Twelve Apostles, the meeting was dismissed. William Clayton said, "It truly seemed as though the cloud had burst and we had emerged into a new element, a new atmosphere and a new society."

The pioneer company continued its journey, camping for the night near a creek, having traveled 8 miles. Orson Pratt commented that many hills in the vicinity seemed to consist of large quantities of cobblestones. One of the sandstone rocks projecting from the cliffs resembled the stern of a steamboat. Pratt called it "Boat Rock." Wilford Woodruff, in describing the same formation, said it resembled "the hull of a steamboat loaded with freight, so I named it Steam Boat Bluff.'"