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Mountain Fever Whips the Pioneers; Brannan Tells Young About California

 

The Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com

Harold Schindler, Mormon Trail Series

Published: 07/01/1997 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.

July 1, 1847

"Mountain fever" has swept the Camp of Israel. At least half the pioneers are suffering from this influenza-like malady that overwhelms them with savage headaches and bone-racking pain, rendering even the strongest among them incapable of driving teams or attending the simplest of tasks. Fortunately the illness seems short-lived, three or four days at most, but it leaves its victims drained of energy and dulls their spirits.

William Clayton suffered an attack this morning and was forced to put his pen and journal aside to nurse the "violent aching in my head and limbs." Wilford Woodruff counted fifteen in his immediate vicinity who were stricken with what he described as "fever, ague &c." Ezra Benson was down, as were George Wardle, George A. Smith, Erastus Snow, John Fowler, George Billings, Edson Whipple and others, including Clarissa Young, Brigham's wife. The remaining able-bodied pioneers managed to ferry fourteen company wagons across the Green River, but were forced to halt operations when one raft became so waterlogged it no longer was practical to use it.

While the rafting came to a temporary standstill, it provided Samuel Brannan, freshly arrived from California by way of Fort Hall, an opportunity to persuade Brigham Young on the merits of settling in the San Joaquin Valley. Along with a file of his California Star describing the country and its environs, Brannan pointed out to Young that Captain John Sutter at Sutter's Fort was "friendly and wished us to come settle near him." Young remained noncommittal, however. But Brannan was encouraged to provide the Mormon leader with sketch maps of his route from California through Fort Hall to this Green River camp.

Norton Jacob, whose raft proved too heavy and cumbersome to stem the violence of the spring runoff current, pulled the structure to the shore and, "by request of Heber C. Kimball, I went to work with some men and built another raft of dry cottonwood ten feet by twenty-six feet which was much better." Thomas Bullock was sick in bed "from overexertion." And Willard Richards told him "not to do the like again for any man, Saint, King, Lord or Devil." Bullock treated himself by drinking warm tea and chewing ginger root.

The second Mormon emigration, meanwhile, crossed the Loup Fork of the Platte River today, but not before a party of men turned out early to prepare a road to the river ford. The first wagons crossed at 9:30 a.m. and the last made it over by sundown. Farnum Kinyon's seven-year-old son and another boy, Robert Gardner, five, were run over by wagons while crossing the Loup. One wagon weighed 3,000 pounds, the other 3,500 pounds. Both children were administered to immediately and they soon appeared to be in a fair way of recovery.

Some men went buffalo hunting, but returned without seeing any. Antelope were numerous.