The John Taylor Papers, by Samuel W. & Raymond W. Taylor Volume I, The Apostle

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there is wrong, we shall know it and come to the rescue; and our prayers will

continually ascend to the God of Israel, that you may be kept by grace,

through faith, to the day of eternal redemption. I say again, have confidence

in your presidency; never condemn one man for what another has doneneither

be afraid of him. Give all good men your confidence; if they betray it, judge

them according to what they have donenot for what they may or may not do . .

. .

Again, brethren, let me counsel you to circulate the Star as extensively

as possible, and other good books which are approved by the presidency, as in

so doing you spread intelligence, and frequently do more good than you can by

preaching; but let not any person publish books, hymns, or tracts, without

direction of the presidency, and let not the Saints countenance them without,

for if order is not observed in this, all kinds of foolish ridiculous things

will be published in the name of the Latterday Saints.

[118] Now, brethren, as I had not time before I left, I must take the liberty

from this side of the ocean of saying farewellFarewell! and God bless you

forever and ever, worlds without end, amen. It is a long distance to salute

you from . . . for I came more than 6,000 miles to see you. We have yet 2,000

miles to go to see our families, and part of that through mobbers, blacklegs,

and murderers who would gladly take our lives; but we trust in the God of

Israel that he will take us safety through, and that we shall arrive in the

Camp of Israel in peace and rejoice in once more meeting our families and

friends. (15)

On his way upriver, Taylor put his feelings regarding the injustice

suffered by the Saints at Winter Quarters into verse.

Song, composed by Elder John Taylor, while reflecting on American freedom and

liberty, on his way from England to the camp:

O! this is the land of the free!

And this is the home of the brave,

Where rulers and mobbers agree,

'Tis the home of the tyrant and slave.

Here liberty's poles pierce the sky

With her cap gaily hung on the vane;

The gods may its glories espy,

But, poor mortals, it's out of your ken.

The eagle soars proudly aloft,

And covers the land with her wings;

But oppression and bloodshed abound,

She can't deign to look down on such things.

Here the stars and stripes proudly float,

And glitter in every breeze;

But the patriot who reared it's forgot,

And is robbed of his freedom and peace.


No monarch or autocrat reigns,

No kingly dominion is here,

But the modest Vox Populi deigns

To take what he wants without fear.

All men are born equal and free,

And their rights all the nation maintains;

But with millions it would not agree:

They were cradled and brought up in chains.

You may worship your God without fear,

For none can your conscience control;

But if you're not of the orthodox here,

It will be bad both for body and soul.

You may see the meek teacher of grace

Against heretics take a bold stand,

And as prayers the delinquents won't save,

Join to drive them from house, home and land . . . .

Here monarchs her glories may see,

And this model republic admire;

For beneath this Upasion tree,

Did liberty's goddess expire.

And now we'll erect her a tomb,

And write on't "Here lieth the great!"

And all tribes and nations to come

May take warning and learn of her fate.

For this is the land of the free!

And this is the home of the brave,

Where rulers and mobbers agree;

'Tis the home of the tyrant and slave. (16)

Taylor completed his mission by delivering surveying instruments

needed by Brigham Young's pioneer party on its trip to the Rockies. He

also brought 469 gold sovereigns in a money belt, muchneeded tithing

from the British Mission.

[120] (1) MS, 1 June 1847.

(2) May 3, 1844; DHC 6:351.

(3) Prior to the conference the presidency published a notice in the

Millennial Star saying that "The first matter which we consider of great

importance for your consideration" at the conference would be "the

proposal of a Joint Stock Company, that by the means thereof the

interests and welfare of the kingdom of God may be promoted." After being

established, the project was actively sponsored as a church enterprise.

(See MS 5:157, 174; and 7:1)

(4) MS, 1 Nov. 1846.

(5) MS, 15 Oct. 1846.

(6) Bylaws of the company specified that administrative expense was

limited to "five per cent, and no more, on all business done."

(7) 22 Oct. 1846.

(8) MS, 1 Nov. 1846.

(9) Letter 22 Oct. 1846.

(10) MS, 20 Nov. 1846.

(11) CHC 3:129.

(12) MS, 15 Jan. 1847.

(13) Sophia Whitaker became the grandmother of the authors.

(14) MS, 1 Nov. 1847.

(15) MS 9:161, 1 June 1847.

(16) MS, 15 Nov. 1857.

[121] Chapter 8


Tuesday, April 13 <1847>. Elder John Taylor arrived at Winter Quarters,

when Pres. Young and the other brethren of the Twelve met in council . . . .

Elders Pratt and Taylor reported the condition of the British churches, and

the relief experienced by the Saints when the Gospel of Jesus Christ was

preached instead of "Joint Stockism" with which the mission had been afflicted

since the days of Reuben Hedlock's presidency. The Apostles had much joy and

satisfaction in hearing of the prosperity of Elders Pratt and Taylor on their

mission. They offered up thanksgiving and dismissed. (1)

Taylor found that during his absence pestilence, want and hardship

had decimated the Society. Blackleg (scurvy) had been epidemic at "Misery

Bottom," as the Saints were ravaged by the worst season of their history.

J. H. Beadle said:

The people had suffered greatly with cholera, fever and inflamatory

diseases, and the "Old Mormon Graveyard" at Florence contains seven hundred

graves of that winter, of which two hundred are children. Vast numbers had

"fallen into apostasy," or turned away and joined themselves to recusant

sects; and all their fairweather friends had forsaken them. But the little

remnant were at least consolidated in sentiment, strengthened and confirmed

together by mutual suffering, firm and selfreliant. . . . (2)

The Pottawatamies called the region the "Fever Patch." Like the

Mormons, this tribe had been forced to leave its homes in Illinois. The

previous summer the Indians had lost oneninth of their people in two



Colonel Thomas L. Kane reported conditions existing during Taylor's


The Mormons were scourged severely. The exceeding mortality among some of

them was no doubt in the main attributable to the low state to which their

systems had been brought by long conditioned endurance of want and hardship .

. . .

In the season of drought . . . dry down till they run impure as

open sewers . . . between the choking crowd of reeds and sedgy grasses and

wetstalked weeds, and growths of marsh meadow flowers, the garden homes at

this tainted season of venomcrazy snakes, and the fresher ooze by the water's

edge, which stank in the sun like a naked muscle shoal.

Then the plague raged . . . In situations on the left bank of the river

, where the prevalent southwest winds wafted to them the

miasmata of its shores, disease was most rife. . . .

The fever prevailed to such an extent that hardly any escaped it. They

let their cows go unmilked. They wanted for voices to raise the Psalm on

Sundays. The few who were able to keep their feet, went about among the tents

and wagons with food and water, like nurses through the wards of an infirmary.

Here at one time the digging got behind hand; burials were slow; and you might

see women sitting in open tents keeping the flies off their dead children,

sometimes after decomposition had set in....

It was plain now, that every energy must be taxed to prevent the entire

expedition from perishing.

Taylor had left an encampment of tents and wagons. He returned seven

months later to a city of some 700 houses, a large log tabernacle, and

150 dugouts carved into the bluffs.


His families were comfortably situated in cabins; however, with the

husband away the wives had been bickering. Leonora was at sword's point

with Elizabeth Kaighin and the Ballantyne sisters, Jane and Ann.

"Elizabeth began her old ways," Leonora had recorded, when the sister

wife moved in while her own house was under construction.

I took her in to keep her tongue still, for my own and family's sake,

that if possible we might not be abused through the whole camp.

The strain of the relationship is evidenced by the big squabble over

two table cloths and a muff.

I cannot live with her after what she has said before my family, all the

abuse and recriminations her evil nature could devise.

When the Ballantyne family arrived at the river, Leonora expected

flour for which "Mr. T" had arranged, but she received none. With a total

of fifteen in her household, she wrote dispairingly:

What I shall do for bread for the family this winter my Father only

knows. I should have had 8 barrels of flour purchased with that money.

The disagreement festered until at a party all of "the girls" were

invited (including Jane, Ann, and Elizabeth), but not Leonora. She

retaliated by giving a party soon afterwards, attended by "in all 42, a

goodly company, very cheerful and pleasant." The guests included "the

girls," but not Jane and Ann.


With Taylor's arrival, the bickering ceased. Partly it was the

warmth and strength of his presence; but also, the wives came together at

the sight of the two Whitaker girls on their husband's arms. Regardless

of dedication to the Principle, there was always apprehension at the

prospect of other wives.

True enough, within a week after their arrival, John Taylor and

Sophia Whitaker went through another ceremony, to make the marriage a

matter of official church record. The following week Parley Pratt married

Martha Monks and Ann Agatha Walker on the same day.

Concerning Indian relations, Kane wrote:

They were pleased with the Mormons. They would have been pleased with any

whites who would not cheat them, nor sell them whiskey, nor whip them for

their poor gypsy habits, nor bear themselves indecently toward their women . .

. . But all Indians have something like a sentiment of reverence for . . .

those who sacrifice, without apparent motive, their worldly welfare to the

triumph of an idea. They understand the meaning of what they call a great vow,

and think it the duty of the rightminded to lighten the votary's penance

under it. To this feeling they united the sympathy of fellow sufferers for

those who could talk to them of their own Illinois, and tell the story how

from it they also had been ruthlessly expelled.

But shortly after Taylor left for England, the welcome had worn

thin. On 18 October, Leonora wrote;

[125] Went to meeting. All about how we could guard against the Indians, who

are stealing everything they can and killing our cattle. It is proposed to

build a wall around the houses.

Fortunately, Winter Quarters was only a temporary stopping place.

Following the departure of Brigham Young's pioneer company to the

Rockies, Taylor and Parley Pratt assembled the Camp of Israel to follow.

This was a company of familiesmen, women and childrenwho would settle

at the location selected by the pioneers. Brigham would bring the

pioneers back to Winter Quarters, while the Camp of Israel under Taylor

and Pratt would be the first emigrants actually to settle the new land.

B. H. Roberts puts the story of this company of some 560 wagons in


On the 21st and 22nd of June this large company began its journey. It was

late in the season for starting such an expedition. It was too late for them

to put in crops that season, even if they stopped far short of the eastern

base of the Rocky Mountains. They barely had provisions to last them a year

and a half, and if their first crop failed, starvation must follow, for they

would be from ten to fifteen hundred miles from the nearest point where food

could be obtained, and no swifter means of transportation than horse or ox


It was a bold undertaking, this moving over fifteen hundred soulsmore

than half of whom were women and childreninto an unknown country, through

hostile tribes of savages. Had it not been for the assurance of the support

and protection of Jehovah, it would have been not only a bold but a reckless

movementthe action of madmen. But as it was, the undertaking was a sublime

evidence of their faith in God and their leaders.

[126] This company differed from the pioneers. The latter was made up of

ablebodied men, excepting three womennone were helpless. They had the best

teams, and if they failed in finding a place of settlement, they could return

to the place of starting. Meanwhile their families were not endangered. They

were secure at Winter Quarters.

Not so with the Pratt and Taylor Company. They had their all upon the

altar, including their wives and children, who must share their hardships and

their fate. They knew not their destination; they entrusted all on a single

venture, from which there was no chance to retreat . . . . They must succeed,

or perish in the wilderness to which they had started. With a faith that has

never been surpassed, they placed themselves under the guidance and protection

of their God. (4)

Enroute, Taylor reported to Brigham Young and the Council of the


A La Prele Creek, 35 miles east of the Ferry. August 18, 1847.

Beloved Brethren, We started from Winter Quarters on the 12th of June,

organized at the Horn , and made our final departure from there

on the 20th of June.

We organized into four hundreds, and nine fifties, under the direction of

Captains Spencer, Hunter, Grant and Smoot. Each Captain has two captains of

Fifty, and General Rich has a separate company of Fifty. Brother

John Young with Captains Spencer and Hunter preside over the temporal affairs

of the Camp, and Uncle John Smith over spiritual affairs. General Rich has

charge of the military concerns, all under the direction of the Twelve.

Never one to dwell on misfortune, Taylor gave no details of a

stampede that wrecked several wagons when the cattle [127] spooked in the

night. The entire camp spent a week rounding up the livestock.

We have met with no serious difficulty further than the loss of about 12

horses and 40 head of cattle, the cattle from Capt. Grant's company, and the

horses from Captain Smoot's; the cattle, however, were principally made up by

voluntary contribution, so that all the companies have equally shared in the


"Cattle" meant oxen. Taylor didn't mention that now milk cows were

under the yoke.

For the Millennial Star, he reported details of the Camp of Israel:

The company that left Winter Quarters with us consisted of upwards of two

thousand souls . . . . There were about 560 wagons, drawn generally by oxen

from four to eight to a wagon. We travelled generally at the rate of from ten

to fifteen miles per day, and our cattle fed solely upon the grass that we met

with on our route, which generally was very abundant; and although the journey

was tedious, our wagons were mostly fitted up in a commodious manner for

traveling, which rendered our circumstances much more comfortable than could

be anticipated . . . . We travelled in companies of one hundred wagons, when

circumstances made it practicable, and when on account of scarcity of grass or

bad roads we found it inconvenient for such large companies . . . we divided

in fifties and sometimes into tens. Four hundred miles from , we received by express from the pioneers the pleasing intelligence of

their arrival in the place which they had selected as the home for the Saints.


Enroute, Leonora noted details of the journey:

[128] July 8th. Killed 11 Buffalo. Mr. Taylor and Bro. Pratt caught a horse

apiece which were running loose on the prairie. Could find no trace of where

they came from. Mr. T. laid his toe open while cutting brush to make a bridge.

Bro. Pratt caught his hand between two wagons and hurt it very much. We had a

good day to travel. At night it rained and blew very hard . . . .

Wed. Went out hunting Buffalo again and came on thousands. Mr. T. rode. I

took Grandmother in the carriage. Our Company killed 9; every person busy

drying buffalo. I like it much better than beef, more tender and pleasant.

Truly the Lord has spread a table for us in the wilderness . . . .

July 23d . . . . Soon after we started at noon there was a cry that a

child was run over; and the next cry that it was George Taylor. He stood

on the tongue to whip his oxen; his feet slipped and he fell on his face while

both wheels of a heavy loaded wagon ran over his back. I don't know how I got

to him. His poor breast and back was bruised black. He lay on his back; the

first word he spoke was, "I am not hurt, Mother." I went with him in Bro.

Hoagland's wagon to our camping place, had him bled, put on a poultice of

wormwood and vinegar, had hands laid on and trust in the Lord he will soon be

well. Found a board left by the pioneers from Winter Quarters, 490 miles.

In the valley, Brigham Young was concerned about the progress of the

PrattTaylor Company. When his first letter went unanswered, he sent

another by courier. Taylor wrote that "We were just on the eve" of

replying when the messengers arrived.

We . . . rejoiced to see both our beloved Brother Phineas Young and Ezra

T. Benson, together with their escort; their messages to us from our friends

was indeed good news from a far country . . . .

[129] We find that you expected us to be nearer our place of destination than

we are; but can assure you that every exertion has been made both to make as

early a start as we anticipated, and also to expedite our journey after we

started. Our numbers far exceed what we anticipated, for instead of numbering

100 wagons, we have near 600; the cattle were generally weak in coming off the

rushes; we had to recruit our cattle and send to Missouri for bread stuffs.

You know, Brethren, it takes a little labor and time to start a large wheel .

. . .

The health of the camp is very good . . . .We have been generally free

from sickness and accidents; some few children have been run over, but none

killed. Peace prevails in our midst, and we have realized great blessings from

the hands of the God of Israel.

Your families were all well when we left Winter Quarters. You may expect

also on your return to find an abundance of corn and vegetables, of different

kinds growing; we plowed and enclosed a large tract of land before we left . .

. . (6)

The final paragraph of this letter touched on what might have been a

major cause for Brigham Young's concern. Evidently Pratt and Taylor had

made an unauthorized change of plans, after having counseled with the

Twelve at Winter Quarters before the brethren left with the pioneer


It was our intention when you left not to come this season, but to spend

the winter with you ; but we afterwards judged to alter

our minds and are thus far on our way with the Saints.

From the valley, Taylor reported to the British membership:

[130] On our arrival at the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains . . . met

the pioneers on their return to Winter Quarters, in company with a number of

the Battalion who had been engaged in the service of the United

States. We felt as though it was a time to rejoice, our hearts were gladdened,

and we prepared a feast for them, and spread a table in the wilderness, on the

tops of the mountains, of which 130 of them sat down to partake. We mutually

felt edified and rejoiced; we praised the Lord, and blessed one another; and

in the morning we separatedthey to pursue their weary course to Winter

Quarters, and us to come to our present location. (7)

Actually, at this meeting Brigham Young severely chastized Pratt and

Taylor for disobedience to counsel. Roberts reports:

Some disarrangement of plans had occurred with reference to the

organization and order of marching of these companiesplans worked out by

President Young and his associates before they left Winter Quarters . . . .

There had been manifested en route some disorder in the companies, some

bickering and jealousies . . . . For the two apostles, Elders

Pratt and Taylor, were taken sharply to task before the council. Elder Pratt

was the ranking apostle of the two, and had taken the lead in these matters,

and upon his head fell the burden of proof. "Brother Young chastized him for

his course," writes Wilford Woodruff, "and taught us principle."

He said that when we set apart one or more of the Twelve to go and do a

certain piece of work, they would be blessed; . . . but when one or more of

the Quorum interferred with the work of the majority of the Quorum, they burn

their fingers and do wrong . . . .

The Council sustained President Young's reproof; and although Elder Pratt

was not at first disposed to accept it, he finally yielded and acknowledged

his error and was forgiven. (8)


The root cause of the rebuke, however, no doubt came from the fact

that by disobeying counsel Pratt and Taylor had placed the Camp of Israel

in a very serious situation.

When the pioneer party left on 16 April, estimated time of travel

was 35 days, which would have put the pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley on

20 May. However, the pioneers did not arrive until two months later, 24

July, which was too late to mature crops. "There were obtained for seed,"

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