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

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down and the tent was soon prostrate. We then fled to the wagons. I got the

children in when they cried out, "There is a tree coming down!" The men ran

and by their united efforts gave it a different direction or it must have

crushed the carriage and large wagon both. The storm continued with great

violence. Br. Rich cut down a tree that was split and ready to fall on his

tent. All had to heave it in the rain. Several very large trees fell near Br.

Young's tent; one fell on a cow, one on a mule, one on a donkey, yet none of

them were killed . . . . Some of the men have worked without food for two

days. (3)

On returning from Nauvoo, Taylor wrote to Joseph Cain:


Camp of Israel, Mount Pisgah, Middle Fork of Grant River, May 30, 1846.

Dear Brother Cain,

I embrace this opportunity of sending you an account of our situation and

circumstances, thinking you would be pleased to hear from us. We started from

Sugar Creek March 2nd, and continued traveling slowly, in consequence of bad

roads and inclement weather, until April 25th, when we arrived at the West

Fork of the Grand River, 160 miles from Nauvoo, and about fifteen miles from

the state of Missouri. At this place we made an encampment, and commenced

ploughing and making rails and some log houses for the accommodation of the

brethren who should come after us . . . .

We left men to take care of the farm while we went on to this place to

establish another farm on the same principle as we had the last. This place is

situated about forty miles north of the last farm, and is beautifully

situated, abundance of wood and water being convenient. We calculate to start

from here in a few days to Council Bluffs, and from there to the mountains. .

. .

I have been to Nauvoo on business, since you left; the place has altered

very much, civilization is making rapid strides, and the people are very much

improved since we left: they have built a tenpin alley opposite the temple in

Mulholland Street; groggeries are plentiful; at night you can hear drunkards

yelling and whooping through the streets, a thing formerly unknown.

The brethren are trying to sell as fast as they can with some success,

though at very low prices. (4) The Saints are moving very rapidly away. On my

journey back from Nauvoo I passed, I should think, eight hundred teams . . .

together with cattle and sheep in abundance. In the midst of their

difficulties the Saints are rejoicing, and endeavoring to do all they can for

the forwarding of the work.

[93] Taylor paid a last visit to the temple before leaving it forever.

The basement story of the temple is finished together with the ground

floor, and looks elegant. (5) My feelings were very peculiar while standing in

the font, which is of stone, (6) and passing through the rooms, when I thought

how the Saints had labored and strove to complete this building, and then be

forced to leave it, together with their comfortable homes, in the hands of

their enemies. (7)

Enroute, Taylor wrote a song of the exodus, "The Upper California."

The upper California

Oh, that's the land for me!

It lies between the mountains

And great Pacific sea.

The Saints can be supported there,

And taste the sweets of Liberty.

In Upper California

Oh, that's the land for me!

We'll reign, we'll rule and triumph

And God shall be our King;

The plains, the hills and valleys

Shall with hosannahs ring!

Our tow'rs and temples there shall rise

Along the great Pacific sea,

In Upper California,

Oh, that's the land for me!

At Winter Quarters, Leonora described the pleasures of rest and

recreation after the rigors of the trip. A painfully twisted knee was now

well; Dutchman and the snakebitten horse had recovered. Storms had

ceased. Taylor took her and the children [94] upriver for wild

strawberries, and they gathered bushels. She was delighted to visit the

Indian Village, "to see the Indians, Squaws and Papooses all dressed up

so smart, painted, feathers, beads, blankets and everything fantastical

they could put on."

June 20th. Mr. T. drove Mary Ann and the girls

and I to the concert at the Trader's Village. Numbers of the Brethren went;

the band went with them; about 70 persons. Had quite a dance. A number of

halfbreed squaws, dressed very well indeed. We went to the store and got some

things we needed, had some songs from Br. Kay, and a deal of music; upon the

whole spent a very pleasant day. We all rode back with the band playing. It

did me good to look upon houses and a good wide river once more, after living

in a tent and wagon going on five months, through rain, frost and snow.

The following month, July 29th, Leonora noted tersely, "Heard of

Father's mission to England." Among those called were two other members

of the twelve, Orson Hyde and Parley Pratt. (8)

Upon arriving in England, Taylor and Hyde reported:

Liverpool, October 22, 1846.

Prest. Young,

We sailed from New York on the 8th day of Sept. on board the packet ship

"Patrick Henry" for this port . . . . We had a tremendous rough passage . . .

. A hurricane raged in all its fury for about 12 hours, our bulkheads on the

main and quarter decks even dented in, every rag of canvas carried away,

topgallant mast . . . ship nearly unmanageable in the troughs of the

seaburied frequently in a world of water. My thoughts of family, home, and

of God . . . . But thanks be to heaven, the [95] winds abated and the storm

hushed in silence, and we arrived on the morning of the 3rd inst.

Writing in the Millennial Star, Taylor gave a new explanation of the

move west that must have been surprising to the English Saints, who for

seven years had been exhorted to gather for the building of the Kingdom

at Nauvoo.

BrethrenYou have no doubt been informed of our removal from the city of

Nauvoo, and of the causes for that removal. . . . The ostensible cause was

that of persecution: the martyrdom of our prophets, the burning of our houses,

the kidnapping of our brethren, and the daily fear that many of the Saints

experienced from the hand of the assassin . . . were among the leading causes

of our speedy removal. I say speedy removal, because the project was not new

to us . . . .

Long ago, years before the Temple was completed, and long before the

martyrdom of our prophet and patriarch, many living witnesses can testify that

we proposed moving to California, leaving the land of our oppression,

preaching the gospel to the Lamanites, building up other temples to the living

God, and establishing ourselves in the far distant west . . . .

Many a time have I listened to the voice of our beloved prophet, while in

council, dwell on this subject with delight; his eyes sparkling with

animation, and his soul fired with the inspiration of the spirit of the living

God. It was a theme which caused the bosoms of all who were privileged to

listen, to thrill with delight . . . .

The cruel and perfidious persecution that we endured tended to hasten our

departure, but did not dictate it .... I have no doubt but that our

persecution will prove a blessing to many, although bitter and cruel, for

Nauvoo was a lovely place . . . . It is no small sacrifice to leave all and

[96] go into the distant wilds, to depart from our homes, with all our

pleasing associations, to dwell in tents, and mingle with the savages of the

West. Many might be tempted with the leeks and onions of Egypt, and prefer

staying in their quiet homes to suffering affliction with the people of God.

Thus were our foes the ignorant instruments of rolling forth the purposes of

God . . . .

Again, in all gatherings the chaff and tares are collected with the

wheat, and it becomes necessary that the fan should be used to separate the

chaff, and the sieve to remove the tares from the wheat. In Ohio, in Missouri,

and in Illinois . . . such siftings have generally removed the chaff and tares

. . . while the Kingdom of God rolls steadily on, and triumphs amidst

opposition in the wisdom, strength, and power of God.

Telling of preparations for the exodus, he said that "Nauvoo was

converted into one great wagon shop." Even the basement of the temple

became a wagon factory.

The Twelve, the high council, and about four hundred families left the

city of Nauvoo in the month of February last, and launched forth in an

American winter, braving the frost, the snow, and the chilling winds, and

commenced their journey to the far distant West . . . . were very much

exposed, living in tents and wagons; but as there is an abundance of timber in

that country, we made large fires in the woods, and thus were enabled to

preserve ourselves from the cold. As there was no grass, we were necessitated

to purchase corn and hay to feed our horses and cattle; . . . this, however,

was mostly obtained for labour . . . .

We pursued our course slowly onward . . . Our cattle and horses suffered

very severely from exposure, and we ourselves; . . . but we sustained no

injury therefrom; our health and our lives were preservedwe outlived the

trying scenewe felt contented and happythe songs of [97] Zion resounded

from wagon to wagon, from tent to tent; the sounds reverberated through the

woods, and its echo was returned from the distant hills; peace, harmony and

contentment reigned in the habitations of the Saints.

In the opening of spring . . . the Saints felt fit to rejoice that they

had outlived the chilling storms of an inhospitable winter . . . .

The Saints from Nauvoo continued daily to swell our ranks . . . until

the time leaving to come to England . . . there

were in the camp and on the way from Nauvoo (as near as we could estimate)

about fifteen thousand Saints, three thousand wagons, and thirty thousand head

of cattle . . . .

The land is rich and fertile. There are large prairies skirted here and

there with timber on the banks of the streams . . . . are

covered everywhere with a rich, luxuriant grass, which cattle and horses are

very fond of . . . . It is generally about eighteen inches high in the

highlands, and on the lowlands, or "flats", near rivers, from six to ten feet

. . . . When we left, our cattle and horses were fat and in good condition.

The camp of Israel is regularly organized into companies, consisting of

fifty or sixty wagons each; over the companies there are captains of fifties

and captains of tens . . . . We have our pioneers go before the camp, to make

bridges or roads where required; we also have small boats with us, and when we

have to ferry large streams, we build large boats, so that everything moves on

harmoniously and with order and regularity.

When we left, the camp . . . had taken up winter quarters . . . . It was

necessary to cut hay and prepare for the winter, also build temporary houses .

. . .

We have with us . . . provisions to last from one to three years, plenty

of cows, which furnish us . . . [98] milk and butter. It is true that in our

sojourning we do not possess all the luxuries and delicacies . . . but we have

an abundance of the staple commodities such as flour, meal, beef, mutton,

pork, milk, butter, and in some instances cheese, sugar, coffee, tea, etc,

etc. We feel contented and happy in the wilderness. The God of Israel is with

usunion and peace prevail; and as we journey as did Abraham of old, with our

flocks and herds to a distant land, we feel that, like him, we are doing the

will of our Heavenly Father, and relying upon His word and promise; and having

His blessings . . . .

A long letter from Leonora told of pleasures and problems at Winter

Quarters. She went with "the girls" and Sister Woodworth on a twoday

outing to gather wild grapes, returning with a barrel of them and a bag

of hops. She stopped enroute at the Indian Village, and got onions,

potatoes and apples. There was mail from England, including a box of

raisins. Happily Leonora bought cakes and beer for the girls.

But the party didn't include two of the wives, Jane and Ann

Ballantyne. Leonora was reserved with them, and definitely cool to Ann,

Taylor's latest wife. There was no love lost on either side.

Taylor continued his report:

When we arrive in California, according to the provisions of the Mexican

government, each family will be entitled to a large tract of land, amounting

to several hundred acres; but as the Mexican and American nations are now at

war, should California fall into the hands of the American nation, there has

been a bill before Congress in relation to Oregon, which will undoubtedly

pass, appropriating six hundred and forty acres of land to every male settler;

should California fall into the hands of the [99] American nation, this

privilege will unquestionably extend to that land, for the encouragement of

emigration; so that whether it is in the hands of the Americans or Mexicans,

still we shall obtain a vast territory of country for nothing . . . . Thus it

will easily be seen that we are in a better condition than when we were at

Nauvoo. Labour, with us, is capital, and an industrious, enterprising

population is the bone and sinew of wealth. It was labour, the enterprise, and

the settlement of the Saints that made Nauvoo valuable; the same results must

necessarily follow their settlement in California . . . .

While the Christians in their mad zeal have banished us from their midst

. . . the wild Indiansthe barbarians, the savages (socalled) of the

forestopened their arms to receive us . . . . Yes, they have treated us as

friends and brethren; they have opened their hands and hearts; they have bid

us welcome to their lands and possessions; they have told us to kill their

deer, to drink their water, to till their lands, to burn and use their timber,

and to find a home with them without money or price.

The mustering of the Mormon Battalion came at Winter Quarters. The

pay and allowances advanced to the troops was a boon to the Saints facing

a winter in the wilderness.

Although we have been inhumanly and barbarously dealt with, . . . yet the

President of the United States is favourably disposed to us. He has sent out

orders to have five hundred of our brethren employed in an expedition that was

fitting out against California, and to have their arms and implements of war

given to them at the expiration of the term; and as there is no prospect of

any opposition, it amounts to the same as paying them for going to the place

where they were destined to go without. They also have the privilege of

choosing their own leaders. (9)


Enroute from Nauvoo the Camp of Israel had fenced and planted grain

fields, each about two miles square, at Mt. Pisgah and Garden Grove. The

grain was harvested by those who came later. Also, Taylor said, pioneer

companies were going ahead from Council Bluffs to prepare the way for

those who would cross the plains next spring.

A company, consisting of persons having two or three hundred wagons, had

started . . . Grand Island, in the River Platte, about two hundred and

fifty miles from Council Bluffs, for the purpose of wintering there; they

would also put in seed grain, and make improvements in that part. A small

company of fifty wagons started for the purpose of crossing the Rocky

Mountains, if practicable, with grain and other seed to sow . . . . If they

are . . . , they will winter in the Black Hills, on this side

of the mountains.

The way is now prepared, the roads, bridges, and ferry boats made; there

are stopping places also on the way, where they can rest, obtain vegetables

and corn; and when they arrive at the far end, instead of finding a wild waste

they will meet with friends, provisions, and a home. (10)

Taylor analyzed the success of the Mormon economy at Nauvoo,

contrasting it to the failure of various social movements. Robert Dale

Owen had

thought he could ameliorate the condition of mankind by a sort of communism,

having a fellowship of goods among thema sort of common stock principle.

Everything pertaining to this speculation, however, has flatted out. . . .

It is so also with Flourierism, . . . established by one

Flourier, a Frenchman, and advocated by Greeley of the New York

Tribune. They had a good [101] deal of property, and I am informed they

established something of the nature of what is called the free love principle;

but . . . . everything they had was sold under the hammer.

An Icarian colony, followers of the French social reformer, Ettiene

Cabet, settled Nauvoo, after the Mormons left. In discussion with Taylor,

the editor of an Icarian newspaper named Krolokoski asked:

"Mr. Taylor, do you propose no other plan to ameliorate the condition of

mankind than that of baptism for the remission of sins?"

I replied, "That is all I propose about the matter."

"Well," he said, "I wish you every success; but I am afraid you will not


Said I, "Mr. Krolokoski, you sent Mr. Cabet to Nauvoo. He was considered

your leaderthe most talented man you had. He went to Nauvoo when it was

desertedwhen houses and lands were at a mere nominal value . . . . Rich

farms were deserted, and thousands of us had left our houses, and furniture in

them, and there was everything calculated to promote the happiness of human

beings there . . . . Mr. Cabet . . . had also the selection in France of whom

he pleased. He and his company went to Nauvoo, and what was the result?" . . .

What has become of that society? There are very few of them left. They

have had dissensions, bickerings, trouble, and desertions, until they are

nearly dwindled to nothing . .. .

we were banished from civilized society into the valleys

of the Rocky Mountains to seek for that protection among savages which

Christian civilization denied us. There our people have built houses, [102]

enclosed lands, cultivated gardens, built school houses, opened farms, and

have organized a government and are prospering in all the blessings and

immunities of civilized life . . . .

If Owen, Fourier, Cabet, and other philosophers have failedif all the

varied schemes of communism have failedif human philosophy is found to be at

fault, and all its plans incompetent; and we have not failed, it shows

there is something associated with this people and with Mormonism that there

is not with them.

Now, the question is, what is this principle? Why is there a difference?

The answer was, Taylor said, that the others didn't have "the gospel

in its purity."

You have seen its effects upon us. It shall bring things past to your

remembrance; it shall show you things to come; it shall make prophets of you;

your sons and daughters shall see visions; the heavens shall be opened unto

you; you shall know your origin, comprehend who you are, what you are, where

you are going, the relationship which exists between you and your God; and

there shall be a channel opened between the eternal worlds and you; and the

purposes of God shall be made known unto you.

And what has this gospel done? It has caused you to leave your families,

your connections, your homes, and your associations in life. Many of you have

left thousands and thousands of dollars worth of property; you have been

mobbed and scourged from city to city, and from state to state, and you have

endured all this. Why? Because of that hope which is within your bosoms, which

blooms with immortality and eternal lives.

To the editor, Krolokoski, Taylor concluded:


"The society that I represent comes with the fear of Godthe worship of

the great Elohim. They offer the simple plan ordained of Godviz, repentance,

baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of

the Holy Ghost. Our people have not been seeking the influence of the world,

nor the power of government, but they have obtained both; whilst you, with

your philosophy independent of God, have been seeking to build up a system of

communism and a government which is, according to your own accounts, the way

to introduce the millennial reign. Now, which is bestour religion, or your


"Well," said he, "I cannot say anything." (11)

While in England, Taylor received distressing news from Leonora.

There was bickering among the wives. The Indians were becoming hostile,

and were stealing horses and cattle. The man with whom Taylor had

arranged at Philadelphia, before leaving, to take a stove and groceries

to Leonora at Winter Quarters "brought me nothing," she reported.

He was heartened that she had finished her house before the worst

winter months; she'd traded his old gray overcoat, she reported, for

$7.00 worth of clapboards.

Then came agonizing news. Man were dying at Winter Quarters from

canker and scurvy. One victim was his wife Ann Pitchforth. This lady of

breeding and quality had given up a life of ease to gather with the

Saints at Nauvoo, and the rigors of the exodus were too much for her

frail strength.


(1) T&S, 15 Nov. 1942; 1 Oct. 1843; 1 Oct. and 15 Oct. 1844. See

also Nauvoo, Neighbor.

(2) 1 Feb. 1846. This was the next to last issue.

(3) Journal of Leonora Taylor, from Nauvoo, to Salt Lake.

(4) John D. Lee reported that he traded a brick house and lot for

teams worth $300. Another house, which would have been worth $50,000 in

Utah, was sold for $12.50.

(5) A force of workmen had been left to complete other parts.

(6) The original font, with its support of oxen, had been made of

wood. It recently had been taken out, and replaced by the stone font,

another indication of expected permanence.

(7) MS, 1 Aug. 1846.

(8) Perhaps it should be noted that Taylor, Hyde, and the Pratt

brothers, Parley and Orson, had recently blocked the desire of Brigham

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