Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“The Desert Shall Rejoice, and Blossom
as the Rose”
“Right here will stand the temple of our God.”
The Saints were obedient as they settled and colonized the Salt Lake Valley
and the surrounding areas.
Missionaries made sacrifices to teach the gospel throughout the world.
A study of this lesson will help us understand how we have been blessed by
the sacrifices of the early Saints in the Salt Lake Valley and to encourage us
to follow the example of these faithful members.
Scripture references for study:
Heritage, pages 81–96; review the material for this lesson in the
Class Member Study Guide
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 36 Handout (PDF)
Building The Kingdom of God
WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
The organization of God's people on earth.
The Kingdom of God may range from:
The assembly of a few believers led by priesthood authority.
A worldwide church organization as we know it today.
The spiritual/temporal kingdom filling the earth to be presided over by
the Savior himself.
Joseph Smith: "Whenever men can find out
the will of God and find an administrator legally authorized from God,
there is the kingdom of God; but where these are not, the kingdom of God
is not. All the ordinances, systems, and administrations on the earth are
of no use to the children of men, unless they are ordained and authorized
of God; for nothing will save a man but a legal administrator; for none
others will be acknowledged either by God or angels." (HC, 5:256)
Concerning the future destiny of the kingdom the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote:
calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel
by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize
the whole world. I once offered my life to the Missouri mob as a sacrifice
for my people, and here I am. It will not be by sword or gun that this
kingdom will roll on: the power of truth is such that all nations will
be under the necessity of obeying the Gospel." (HC 6:365)
Though the Saints had abandoned New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois,
the building of the kingdom of God continued in the valleys of the Great
Getting Organized & Settling In.
One of the problems in studying history is that we often see it from our
vantage point, rather than in the context of the time in which the history
It is important to remember that this was not a campout. This was
not a 50 mile Scout hike.
These pioneering Saints crossed hundreds of miles of rugged terrain through
mostly uninhabited wilderness.
At times, their lives were in jeopardy.
And now, they were as far away from civilization as one could get in the
United States. They could not request supplies and have them in days
or weeks or even months.
After migrating through the wilderness, they were about to lay the foundation
for a new civilization, the kingdom of God. What an incredible undertaking!
The day after Brigham Young arrived in the valley was Sunday, the Sabbath,
July 25, 1847.
Near the close of worship service, President Young spoke to the congregation.
He informed the brethren that they must not work, hunt, or fish on Sunday. This was to be the law in the Salt Lake valley. Those that could
not abide by this counsel were invited to go and live elsewhere.
Brigham Young: "No man should buy or sell
land. Every man should have his land measured off to him for city
and farming purposes, what he could till. He might till it as he
pleased, but he should be industrious and take care of it."
President Young also declared that there would be no private ownership
of the water streams. Wood and timber would be regarded as community
property. Only dead timber was to be used for fuel.
These principles were important. Thousands were planning on migrating
to the Great Basin. One group should not have advantage over the
July 28: Late in the afternoon of Brigham Young "designated
the site for the temple block between the forks of City Creek, and on motion of
Orson Pratt it was unanimously voted that the temple be built upon the site
designated." President Young was accompanied by Elders Heber C. Kimball,
Willard Richards, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Amasa
Lyman, and Ezra T. Benson (all members of the Twelve), and also Thomas Bullock,
the president's secretary. (CHC, 3:280)
July 29: The detachments of the Mormon Battalion and the Mississippi
saints arrived in the valley.
There were about 140 from the battalion and 100 Mississippi Saints. This addition swelled the population of the valley to about 400.
Committees organized for work:
Farming: 35 acres were staked off, plowed, harrowed, and irrigated. They planted potatoes, corn, oats, etc.
Surveying: This committee laid out the city in 135 ten-acre blocks,
with the Temple Block in the center. Lots divided up, streets laid out,
creeks named, regulations for sidewalks & houses devised. One
block was selected for the construction of a stockade where the pioneers
could live until permanent structures could be built.
Building: Building the fort. A large group was assigned to
building log cabins and a wall around the fort.
Logging: Located timber in canyons, constructed a road, blacksmith
shop set-up, corrals built, community storehouse built.
Hunting: In one eight day period this committee only bagged 1 hare, 1 badger,
1 white wolf, 3 sage hens, 4 fish.
Salt committee: Came up with 125 bushels of course white salt and
1 barrel of fine table salt.
Exploring: Brigham Young knew that the kingdom must expand beyond
the Great Salt Lake Valley. Explorers were sent to Weber, Cache,
Utah, Cedar, and Tooele Valleys. The Mormon Battalion brought information
concerning the northern route over the Sierra from Sacramento. Some of
the brethren were commissioned to return to California via the southern
Groups were sent to California (to make contact with the members of the
Church there), Fort Hall (to obtain provisions), and some back on the trail
to assist the larger company that was following a few weeks behind.
The government of the colony for the next year was placed in the hands
of a stake presidency and high council.
They were appointed by members of the Quorum of the Twelve and approved
by the congregation.
They also appointed a clerk, a watermaster, surveyor, and marshal.
Return To Winter Quarters.
As life in the valley was getting organized, preparation was made for the return
of many of the brethren to Winter Quarters to assist in the migration
A number of the battalion men were anxious to return to their families.
August 16: A company of pioneers and battalion men were organized
and met at the mouth of Emigration Canyon.
This group included 24 pioneers, 46 battalion members, in 34 wagons.
August 26: The second company of pioneers and battalion members began
the trek back to Winter Quarters.
This company consisted of 107 persons. They were unable to take many provisions
with them; they were needed in the valley. They
would depend primarily on fish and game.
This company included Brigham Young, Heber Kimball, and five of the apostles. Ezra T. Benson had been sent ahead in early August to meet the following
pioneer company. None of the Twelve were left in the valley.
The leadership of the Church needed to return to organize the Saints for migration in
1848 and succeeding years. There were 16,000 Saints now waiting in Winter
In early September, Brigham's company met the first of the large pioneer
companies moving west, this one headed by Parley P. Pratt. A couple days
later they met up with John Taylor's company.
Several inches of snow fell causing concern about the climate they were
The good sisters prepared a feast for the returning brethren. 130
were served on improvised tables covered with snow white linen and glittering
tableware. They were served game, fish, fruits, jellies, and relishes.
The preparations for the feast were made a surprise. They knew nothing
of the feast until Elder Taylor led them through a natural opening in the
bushes ringing the enclosure.
When supper was cleared away, there was dancing to violin. They danced
Scotch-reels, French-fours, and other such dances. There were also
songs and recitations.
Wrote John Taylor: "We felt mutually edified
and blessed, we praised the Lord and blessed one another." (CHC,
September 9: About 50 horses were stolen by
the Indians. These horse were needed by the Saints heading both directions.
In an attack, a few days later, the Indians attempted to steal more horses
by charging on the encampment of President Young's returning party. The brethren were prepared and only a few horses were taken.
The Indians claimed that they had mistaken the white men for a camp of
Crow or Snake Indians, with whom they were at war. They invited Brigham
Young to come to their camp and smoke the peace pipe. He did not,
but Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and Stephen Markham did go with
the Indians and participated in the ceremony and were allowed to pick out
seven or eight horses from a herd of 1,000. They also saw some
of the 50 horses that had been previously stolen.
After President Young's party left Fort Laramie, heading east, the teams
became constantly weaker and the food in the camp was often exhausted.
October 18: They were met by a company of sixteen men with three wagons
from Winter Quarters coming to assist them.
When they reached the Elkhorn River, they were met by a company of twenty wagons
led by Bishop Newel K. Whitney, bringing food and grain in abundance. A few days later President Young's company arrived back in Winter Quarters.
The First Winter In The Great Basin.
October 10: The last of the 1847 pioneer companies arrived in the
Salt Lake Valley.
There were a total of 11 arriving companies in 1847, totaling about 2,000
Many returned to Winter Quarters leaving 1681 persons to spend the first
winter in the Salt Lake.
The emigrants constructed a one block, enclosed area to house and protect
the pioneers. This was known as Old Fort. It was soon discovered
that it would not be sufficient to hold the large number entering the valley
in 1847 and two additional forts were constructed, one on the north and
one on the south.
The houses were made with adobe or logs. The roofs consisted of poles,
brush, and earth. Because they believed the climate was so dry, the
roofs were made too flat and they leaked badly when the winter and early spring rains fell,
This first winter was fairly mild, but food shortages developed.
Too many had been allowed to join the second contingent which left Winter
Quarters in 1847.
Cattle and horses got into the planted acreage and destroyed everything
Indians, wolves and "other destroyers" made off with livestock.
A voluntary rationing system of one-half pound of flour per day was instituted.
The greens and roots of the thistle were used as well as the sego roots. There were a few deaths from eating poisonous roots, chiefly the wild parsnip.
Priddy Meeks wrote of conditions: "My family
went several months without a satisfying meal of victuals. I went sometimes
a mile up Jordan to a patch of wild roses to get the berries to eat which
I would eat as rapidly as a hog, stems and all. I shot hawks and crows
and they ate well. I would go and search the mire holes and find cattle
dead and fleece off what meat I could and eat it. We used wolf meat, which
I thought was good. I made some wooden spades to dig seagoes [Sego Lily]
with, but we could not supply our wants.
"We had to exert
ourselves to get something to eat. I would take a grubbing-hoe and a sack
and start by sunrise in the morning and go, I thought six miles before
coming to where the thistle roots grew, and in time to get home I would
have a bushel and sometimes more thistle roots. And we would eat them raw.
I would dig until I grew faint and sit down and eat a root, and then begin
again. I continued this until the roots began to fail." (Great
Basin Kingdom, p49)
Can you imagine what your children would say if they opened the refrigerator
and found leftover crow and thistle roots? Was this sacrifice
worth it? What are we willing to sacrifice for the kingdom?
As the winter wheat and garden vegetables began to spring up, a late frost
injured a considerable portion of the crop. This was to be the crop
for the harvest of 1848.
In May and June, hoards of hungry crickets came down from the mountains
to feast upon the fresh fields.
A battle was waged against the crickets using every available tool including
sticks, shovels, brooms, and gunny sacks. All this was done with
little success. The "Black Philistines" as the crickets were called,
"mowed their way even with the ground, leaving it as if touched with
an acid or burnt by fire." (Great Basin Kingdom, p49)
Holes were dug several feet across. The crickets were surrounded
by women and children and driven into them and buried, bushels at a time.
It was done again and again, but seemed not to affect the numbers of these
Ditches were plowed around the wheat fields, filled with water, carried
to the running streams, and drowned the pests by the hundreds of thousands.
Fire was tried. There was nothing the Saints could do to stop them. Wrote B.H. Roberts: "He might as well try to sweep
back the rising tide of the ocean with a broom as prevail against these
swarming pests by the methods tried." (CHC, 3:331)
HOW DO YOU SUPPOSE THESE SAINTS FELT, THEY WHO HAD SACRIFICED THEIR HOMES
AND LIVED ON THE EDGE OF STARVATION?
As the battle was being lost the Apostle Charles C. Rich announced:
we do not want you to part with your wagons and teams for we might need
them" (Church News, May 16, 1998). The indication was
that the Saints might pull out and move to more hospitable country (such
At the moment this announcement was issued, those famous seagulls swept
in and began to devour the bugs. Wrote Priddy Meeks, "I
guess this circumstance changed our feeling considerable for the better."
(Great Basin Kingdom, p49)
There were still many that questioned the validity of staying in the Valley. Brigham Young's brother wanted to send an express party to President Young
telling him to not bring any more Saints for "they would all starve
Church Business - Winter Quarters.
Back on the Missouri, it was decided to vacate Winter Quarters in the spring.
Indian agents had been encouraging the Saints to remove themselves from
the lands of the Omaha Indians.
As many of its inhabitants as possible were to prepare to go to the Salt
Those who couldn't were to move to the east side of the river, to Kanesville,
now known as Council Bluffs.
In a letter from the Twelve, all Saints were called to gather with the
Church in the Great Basin.
The Saints in the British Isles were called to come immediately.
The rich were to help the poor in their efforts to gather to "Zion."
The First Presidency was reorganized at a meeting of the Twelve on December
5, 1847, at Winter Quarters.
Nine of the Twelve were present at this meeting: Brigham Young was
sustained as president with Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as counselors.
The First Presidency was sustained three weeks later, at a conference of
the Church in Winter Quarters.
Father John Smith, uncle of Joseph and brother to the Prophet's father,
was chosen to be the presiding patriarch of the Church. At the time,
John Smith was presiding over the Saints in Salt Lake.
There was a re-emphasis on missionary work.
Jesse C. Little was to return to the presidency of the Eastern States.
John Brown was sent back to labor in the southern states.
Orson Pratt was to preside over the missions in the British Isles.
When Elder Pratt returned to England, the membership of the Church there
was reported at 17,902.
Wilford Woodruff was sent to preside over the work in Canada.
June 1, 1848: 623 wagons were assembled at the Elkhorn ferry ready
to move west in two great encampments, one led by Brigham Young, the other
by Heber C. Kimball.
In July, a third encampment of 300 wagons was formed under the leadership of
Willard Richards and Amasa M. Lyman.
The Arrival of More Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.
October 11, 1848: The last of the three companies arrived in the
Salt Lake Valley.
Approximately 2,400 Saints arrived with these three companies, raising
the population of the valley to near 5,000.
This is a staggering number when one considers the ordeal of near starvation
during the previous winter.
The Council of Fifty.
The High Council continued to govern in a municipal capacity until January
The Council of Fifty operated in a significant behind-the-scenes capacity
from November 1848 to January 1850.
WHAT WAS THE COUNCIL OF FIFTY?
John D. Lee stated that this council constituted "the
Municipal department of the Kingdom of God set up on the Earth, and from
which all Law emanates . . . to council, deliberate & plan for the
general good & upbuilding of the Kingdom of God on the earth."
Studies, 2:244, Spring-Summer 1960)
Historian Leonard Arrington wrote: "Apparently,
the basic decisions relating to economic affairs in the second year were
made by the Council of Fifty and then announced and executed as seemed
best, by the High Council, the First Presidency, the general conference,
or citizens' mass meetings. The Council of Fifty was essentially an arrangement
whereby the 'leading citizens' would freely discuss and agree upon policies
and procedures, and these men would then bend their efforts to achieve
these results in the various civic and church groups in which they participated.
Its regulations--or, rather, the combined regulations of the High Council,
the bishops, and the church--centered primarily around the distribution
of land, the control over natural resources, the construction of public
works, the provision of a circulating medium, and the prevention of hunger
and want." (Great Basin Kingdom, pp50-51)
Probably the most significant action of the Council of 50 was the formation
for a provisional government for the proposed "State of Deseret".
WHAT WAS THE STATE OF DESERET?
The proposed territory included all of current Utah, all of Nevada, southern
California from the Mexican border north to almost Los Angeles, two thirds
of Arizona, the northwest corner of New Mexico, Colorado west of the Rockies,
southwestern Wyoming, part of southern Idaho, and chunk of southeast Oregon.
The political arm of the Council of 50 continued to govern until the establishment
of the Utah Territory in 1851 and as a "ghost government" until
Policies For Governing The Territory.
After the arrival of Brigham Young, a number of policies were worked out
to deal with the increasing numbers of people entering the valley.
Policies on land distribution were fine tuned.
Control of water and timber.
The policy, as stated by Brigham Young, was: "There
shall be no private ownership of the streams that come out of the canyons,
nor the timber that grows on the hills. These belong to the people: all
the people." (Lion of the Lord, p147)
This was an essential policy as irrigation was vital to the agriculture
of the region.
Construction of public works.
One day in ten was donated and one-tenth of their production. Such
works included a wall around the Temple Block, building of a Council House,
a small adobe church office building, public bathhouse at Warm Springs,
an armory, and bowery on the temple block large enough to hold 3,000 persons. There was also a Church Farm of 800 acres
created for producing food for
Provision for a circulating medium.
Much of the early trade was based on gold dust and a paper currency was
issued backed by the gold.
On January 2, 1849, 830 notes were issued with a total value of $1,365. The notes bore the signature of Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball and
stamped with the private seal of the Twelve Apostles.
Also, 256 notes of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank were placed in circulation
(value $1,331). These and other notes were secured by a 80% reserve of
This fulfilled a prophecy by Joseph Smith that one day the Kirtland notes
would be as good as gold.
The Challenge Of The Second Winter.
Again, the Saints faced a winter of food shortages. The second winter
was far more severe that the first.
Snow and severe cold made the food shortage worse as cattle and other animals
were killed more frequently by predators.
The Council of 50 sponsored a hunt in which 800 wolves, 400 foxes, 2 wolverines,
2 bears, 2 wildcats, and 37 minx were killed. Also, hawks, owls,
eagles, and crows.
One dollar in tithing was offered on a continuing basis for each wolf and
As in the previous year many survived on rawhides, sego roots, and thistles.
Church officials wrote back to Winter Quarters indicating that emigrants
should not be allowed to come to Salt Lake without sufficient provisions
for the next winter.
The city was divided into nineteen wards and the bishop was instructed to provide
for the poor in their wards.
Each person with a surplus was asked to turn it over to the bishop for
distribution among the needy.
Consideration was given to the poor in the matter of taxes.
The Council of 50 appointed Albert Carrington as assessor, collector, and
treasurer, "with...discretionary power, to pin
down upon the rich and penurious, and when he comes to a Poor man or widow
that is honest, instead of taxing them, give them a few dollars."
(Great Basin Kingdom, p59)
Gold In California.
On August 25, 1847, the first contingent of the Mormon Battalion, which
had been previously disbanded, camped two miles from Fort Sutter on
the American River in California. They were hoping to receive news from
Brigham Young as to how to proceed.
Two days later, Captain John Brown arrived from Salt Lake to buy cattle
and feed for the Saints. He carried instructions from President Young
that the Battalion members should remain in California for the winter,
to work and earn what money they could.
These Battalion members offered their services to John Sutter. With this
windfall of manpower, Sutter contracted with his carpenter, James Marshall,
to build a sawmill fifty miles up the south fork of the American River.
James Marshall took the Mormons up the river and together they constructed
By the turn of the new year, in 1848, the sawmill was nearly completed.
When it was completed, they discovered a defect which had to be corrected:
the tailrace was too shallow at the end, causing the dammed-up water to
rush back and prevent the flutter wheel from turning. They decided the
channel had to be deepened by blasting.
On the morning of January 24, 1848, after the blasting had been done, while
Marshall was inspecting the mill race, he saw something glitter in the
When he showed the nuggets to the members of the Battalion working on the
mill, they were not impressed. They continued working at their tasks.
Henry Bigler, a Battalion member, went out searching on his own time and
found flecks of gold and later a nugget. Even though the Mormons
could have made more money by digging for gold, not one man ran out on
his promise to Sutter to work the six weeks necessary to complete the mill,
though they did use their spare time to search for gold.
On January 28, Marshall reported the discovery to Sutter. They tried
to keep the discovery secret, but the secret leaked out and the
Mormons were partially responsible.
It was Sam Brannen who announced the discovery of gold in San Francisco.
Author Irving Stone wrote: "Thus it was that
in the year 1847 the Mormons not only settled Bonneville's Lake, bringing
a whole new people and new culture to the Far West, but the presence of
members of the Mormon Battalion, poising at Sutter's for the winter, was
also instrumental in bringing to California, traversing Colorado, Utah
and Nevada en route, the greatest rush of humanity ever to pour into a
country from every radius of the earth's circumference." (Men
To Match My Mountains, p104)
Impact On The Saints.
There was a temptation among some to chase gold in California and there establish
With members of the Mormon Battalion and the Saints from the Brooklyn,
early claims could be made to the gold fields.
There were already a few thousand Saints in the Salt Lake valley and 20,000
more at various stages of moving west.
This situation would have allowed the Church to garner a significant portion
of the gold found in California.
Brigham Young said that the Salt Lake Valley was "a
good place to make Saints, and it is a good place for Saints to live; it
is the place the Lord has appointed, and we shall stay here, until He tells
us to go somewhere else."
President Young promised that those who stayed behind would do better than
those who went in search of gold, "I will commence
at the north and go to the south settlements, and pick out twenty-five
of our inhabitants as they average; and another man may take fifty of the
gold diggers, off hand, and they cannot buy out the twenty-five who have
taried at home." (CHC, 3:348)
In encouraging the Saints to remain and while they were still struggling
with avoiding starvation, Heber C. Kimball prophesied that within a short
time "states goods would be sold in the streets
of Salt Lake City cheaper than in New York, and that the people could be
abundantly supplied with food and clothing." (CHC 3:349)
After President Kimball spoke to the Saints, he was so unsure of the prophecy,
delivered to him by the Spirit, that he remarked to his brethren that he
was "afraid he had missed it this time." (Life of Heber C. Kimball,
In 1849, almost every article, except sugar and coffee, was selling, on
average, 50% below wholesale prices being paid in eastern cities.
The Gold Mission: Due to the critical need for additional capital, two
companies of men were secretly called on missions to go to California and
mine for gold.
Due to the lack of success and the high costs of working and living in
California, little gold was sent back to the Church.
40,000 to 50,000 persons traveled overland to California in both 1849 and
They first started arriving in Salt Lake City during July 1849.
10,000 to 15,000 went through Salt Lake City in each of those years.
They provided to the Saints needed capital and supplies.
The Saints were able to make handsome profits and acquire needed goods
in trade for fresh teams, flour, and vegetables.
Employment was also provided for blacksmiths, wagon smiths, teamsters, laundresses,
The presidency wrote to Orson Hyde of the 49ers, "...our
peaceful valley has appeared like the half-way house of the pilgrims to
Mecca, and still they come and go, and probably will continue to do so
till fall." (CHC, 3:338)
Unlike the earlier struggles, the harvests of 1849 and 1850 were sufficient
to provide for the ever increasing numbers of Saints migrating to the Valley.
But there was not any extra.
Hundreds of 49ers arrived in Salt Lake too late in the season to continue
Many contemplated wintering in Salt Lake. There wasn't enough food
to provide for the Saints and the California emigrants.
To relieve this situation, Jefferson Hunt, a captain with the Mormon Battalion,
proposed to guide California emigrants over the southern route that season,
and thus avoid the danger of a rigorous winter journey over the Sierras.
A company of 100 wagons formed and were directed by Captain Hunt.
About 200 miles south, most of these emigrants left Hunt's company to follow
a "Captain Smith" over what was called "Walker's cut-off." Hunt tried
to persuade them that this route was not a safe one.
Hunt's company was left with seven wagons arriving near the southern California
coast on December 22.
After wandering in the mountains with little grass and water, most turned
back and followed the southern route.
Captain Smith's company continued westward, arriving in California after
much suffering. Many died from thirst and desert heat in the deserts
of south central Nevada. Most of their stock perished.
Some 49ers remained in the Salt Lake Valley over the winter. Of those,
some were taught the gospel and were baptized. Some became honest
Others became known as "winter saints." They used their
"conversion" to take advantage of the hospitality of the Saints.
The Perpetual Emigrating Company.
The migration of Saints to the west did not end after the pioneer treks
of 1847 and 1848. This was only the beginning.
In the fall of 1849, the Perpetual Emigration Fund was organized to assist
the poor in emigrating to the Great Basin. A committee was appointed
to gather contributions and $6,000 was raised that fall. With this
help, 2,500 person were brought to the valley in 1850.
That success lead Church leaders to incorporate the Perpetual Emigrating
The charter provided that "All persons receiving
assistance from the Perpetual Emigrating Fund for the Poor, shall reimburse
the same in labor or otherwise, as soon as their circumstances will admit."
President Young served as president of the company.
Another 2,500 emigrated in 1851, leaving 8,000 still in the Iowa camps. In 1852, these Saints were organized and the Iowa camps were finally cleared
Only a skeleton force was left along the corridor to assist with future
Along with other Saints migrating, nearly 10,000 Saints were brought to
Utah in 1852.
Efforts were then adjusted to assist thousands of European Saints to immigrate
By 1870, when the railroad changed the pattern of emigration, more than
51,000 Mormon emigrants had been assisted to Zion.
The Missionary Work.
Three men were called to missions in the Society Islands (Tahiti).
One of those called was Addison Pratt, who had been on missions and had
not received the temple endowment. Prior to his departure, he was
taken to the summit of Ensign Peak and there received that ordinance. The mountain had been dedicated especially for that purpose since there
was not a temple available. (CHC, 3:386-387)
Lorenzo Snow and Joseph Toronto were called on a mission to Italy.
During this mission, the preaching of the gospel was also extended to Switzerland
Elder Snow, conferring with his fellow apostles in England, sent William
Willis to Calcutta, where several hundred natives were baptized. Hugh Findlay
was sent to Bombay.
Erastus Snow was sent to Scandinavia to open the door of the gospel to
John Taylor and others were called on a mission to France and Germany.
The increasing number of immigrants enabled the Saints to spread out and
1847-48: Salt Lake and Weber Valleys.
1849: Utah, Tooele, San Pete valleys.
1851: Box Elder, Pahvant, Juab, Parowan Valleys.
1853: Ft Bridger and Ft Supply, Wyoming.
1855: Moab, Lemhi.
1856: Cache Valley.
Carson Valley (1849-51).
Mormon Corridor: The goal: "To establish a chain of forts from Great
Salt Lake City to the Pacific Ocean." By 1855, twenty-seven communities had
been founded along the route including Las Vegas and San Bernardino.
After the first ten years in Great Basin, 96 settlements had been organized.
By the end of the 19th Century, at least 500 communities in the Great Basin
had been settled by the Latter-day Saints.
Physical Building of the Kingdom.
Public Works - built in the early years by tithing of labor and goods.
These public works also provided employment for new emigrants and others
without gainful employment.
Council House (1855).
The Old Tabernacle (1852).
The Endowment House (1855).
A wall around the temple block.
Construction begins on the temple.
Machine shop, foundry, and nail factory (1852-65).
In 1854 a wall was begun around the city (12' high, 6' thick at the bottom,
& 2 1/2' at top) made of mud mixed with straw, hay, or gravel. It was less than half complete when construction was dropped.
Domestic manufacturing was encouraged by Church leadership:
To become independent of the world.
To provide employment for the ongoing immigration into the region.
To keep money in Zion.
Pottery: Sponsored by the Church in 1852-53. A private pottery
was established in 1856.
Paper mill: Established in 1853.
In 1861 the "Rag Mission" was established to provide a continuous flow
of rags necessary for the operation of the paper mill. This effort was
turned over to the Women's Relief Society in 1867.
Brother George Goddard was called on a "Rag Mission". Said Brother Goddard
of his mission: "[This calling] was a severe blow
to my native pride.... But after being known in the community for years,
as a merchant and auctioneer, and then to be seen on the streets going
from door to door with a basket on one arm and an empty sack on the other,
enquiring for rags at every house. Oh, what a change in the aspect of affairs....
When President Young first made the proposition, the humiliating prospect
almost stunned me, but a few moments' reflection reminded me that I came
to these valleys of the mountains from my native country, England, for
the purpose of doing the will of my Heavenly Father, my time and means
must be at His disposal. I therefore answered President Young in the affirmative,
and for over three years, from Franklin, Idaho, in the north, and Sanpete
in the south, my labors extended, not only visiting many hundreds of houses
during week days, but preaching rag sermons on Sunday. The first time I
ever spoke in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City,...was a rag discourse, and
Presidents Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball backed it up with their testimony
and enlarged upon it." (Great Basin Kingdom, p115)
Sugar: A sugar works was established by the Church in 1853, but due
to difficulties was not operated after the fall of 1856.
Wool: A woolen factory was established and started up in 1863. There had been smaller attempts prior to that time.
Iron: 1851 - an "iron mission" was established at Cedar City.
After struggling for nearly ten years and the expenditure of about $150,000
only a few andirons, kitchen utensils, flat irons, wagon wheels, molasses
rolls, and machine casings had been created.
Brother Arrington stated: "Small, volunteer,
cooperative industry was simply unable to cope with the problems associated
with developing a major resource." (Great Basin Kingdom, p127)
Many of these early enterprises were "mixed" enterprises supported and
financed by the legislature, the church, and private individuals.
To support the Church and its various ventures there were several types
of tithing collected by the Church:
Property tithing: 10% capital levy on property owned by the individual
at the time he/she began to pay tithing. Usually paid in cash or
Labor tithing: The donation of every tenth day towards various church
projects and public enterprises. Often, the well to do members paid
their labor tithing by hiring others to do their work.
Produce and stock tithing: A tenth of the yield of household, farm,
ranch, factory, mine.
"The majority allowed their tithing to run into
arrears, and then paid it up in a lump in some staple article, such as
wheat or a calf, that could be conveniently spared." (Great
Basin Kingdom, p135)
Bishops were urged by the Church to keep a close watch on the yields of
their ward members: "And we recommend to the bishops
throughout these vallies, to keep their ears open, and when they hear their
neighbor's pigs squeal, just step over and see how many have died, and
what they weigh, and what proportion arrives at the tithing office; for
many tons of pork went out of sight last year, and the bishops made no
record of it, and many more will this year, if the bishops don't attend
to their duty, and the Lord will require the cost at the bishop's hands."
(Great Basin Kingdom, p135)
Cash tithing: Particularly sought after by the Church because of
the need for capital at this time.
Institutional tithing: A levy on the profits of stores, shops, and
The story of the building of the Kingdom of God in the Great Basin is remarkable. Only a small part of the story has been told within this lesson. The challenges continued. In 1855 immigration was heavy, a late summer
drought occurred, and the crops suffered an insect invasion. The
winter of 1855-56, as reported by Heber C. Kimball was "more close"
than any they had yet experienced. In 1856, the Willie and Martin
handcart companies suffered tragedy, losing one-fifth of their members
before arriving in Utah. In 1857, Johnston's army began their trek
west to quell the "Mormon rebellion." During the next three decades,
the Saints fought the federal government over their right to religious
freedom and endured the "raid" of federal officers. With the coming
of the railroad in 1869, new challenges faced the Saints as access to Utah
became much easier. The foundation that was laid during these early
decades in the Great Basin laid the foundation for the remarkable expansion
of the kingdom throughout the world in the 20th Century.
WHAT ARE WE WILLING TO DO FOR THE KINGDOM?
Are we willing to go on a rag mission?
Are we willing to leave the gold fields when gold is in sight?
Are we willing to tithe a tenth of our time.
- WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER? ARE WE WORTHY TO PARTAKE WITH THE SAINTS?
We must each prayerfully answer these questions and then decide how we
can improve upon our commitment to the kingdom.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the cooperative effort to build the kingdom of God
in the Great Basin. What are you willing to do for the kingdom?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints by B.H. Roberts (CHC).
Great Basin Kingdom by Leonard J. Arrington.
History of the Church (HC).
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
Lion of the Lord: Essays on the Life and Service
of Brigham Young edited by Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter.
Men To Match My Mountains by Irving Stone.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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