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Chapter Five
The Mormons

The beginning of the history of civil government at and in the vicinity of the site of the present city of Council Bluffs dates from the arrival there of the Mormons — "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints"— on June 14, 1846.

Whither they were going, that is to say, where would they fix their permanent resting place, was at that time unknown even to their leaders. They were fleeing from persecution which they had suffered for a period of years in various portions of the United States, especially in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, and they had started upon a pilgrimage, seeking, like the Children of Israel of old, a New Zion or "promised land".

There is strong proof to indicate that it was their intention, at the time of leaving the beautiful city of Nauvoo — the largest then in the State of Illinois — which they had builded at much expense, time and labor, to go beyond the jurisdiction of the Government of the United States; and there is good reason for the belief that California — then a part of Mexico — was the contemplated goal; that they intended to effect settlement there and, eventually, to seize the territory occupied and found a government of their own. And there is evidence of no mean character to indicate that in such enterprise they were encouraged and promised aid by prominent officials of the United States Government, and that the Government itself, as represented by several cabinet officers and influential members of the Senate, if not actually a party to the undertaking, allowed it to be understood that the movement would not meet with federal opposition or interference.

It was under such conditions and with the hope that at least the advance parties would reach the Pacific coast that season that the emigrants began crossing the Mississippi river on February 5 and 6, 1846, and established their first camp on Sugar creek, opposite Nauvoo and not far from Keokuk, in the Territory of Iowa, where, on the 15th of that month, they were joined by Brigham Young and other leaders, and organization of the caravans was begun.

The start from Sugar creek was made on March 1, 1846, and at about the same time the ship "Brooklyn", with a number of "Saints" and large quantities of supplies on board, sailed from New York, via Cape Horn, for San Francisco.

On March 21, 1846, near the river Chariton, the organization of the "Camps of Israel" was perfected. Near the end of April, Garden Grove (so named by them) was reached and there was established a settlement. Shortly afterward another settlement was founded at what they called Mount Pisgah; and, on June 14, the head of the column reached the Missouri river at or near the site of the present city of Council Bluffs, where another settlement was begun.

These settlements were made for the purpose of affording rest for the moving trains, for the planting of crops to be cultivated and used by following parties, and similar ones were to be established and maintained along the route, as relay stations, forming a continuous line of connection from the beginning to the end of the journey, and they were called "Stakes of Zion".

Within a few days after arrival at Council Bluffs Captain James Allen, with a few dragoons, visited the camp and laid before the leaders a proposition, submitted by the Government through Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, commandant of the military district with headquarters at Fort Leavenworth, for the raising by the Mormon Church of a force of from five hundred to one thousand men for service in the war with Mexico. As an inducement for compliance with the request it was promised that the men should be taken through to California, where, at the expiration of the term of enlistment, they would be discharged with full pay and permitted to retain their arms and all equipment. There not being a sufficient number at Council Bluffs, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards (of the High Council), accompanied by Captain Allen and three dragoons, visited the settlement at Mount Pisgah, and, by sending messengers to Garden Grove, secured volunteers to the number of five hundred and twenty. Within three days after the arrival of these men at Council Bluffs they were equipped, mustered into the United States service and ready to march to Fort Leavenworth, for which place they departed on July 20, 1846.

"A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War — 1846-1847— by Sergeant Daniel Tyler", is the title of a work containing much first-hand information concerning the movements of this body of troops. Incorporated in it are various other papers, one of which is "The Mormons, a Discourse delivered before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, March 26, 1850, by Thomas L. Kane". Speaking of the raising of this battalion, he having been present at the time, Mr. Kane said :
"They were collected a little above the Pottawattamie Agency. The hills of the 'High Prairie' crowding upon the river at this point, and overhanging it, appear of an unusual and commanding elevation. They are called the Council Bluffs ; a name given them with another meaning, but well illustrated by the picturesque congress of their high and mighty summits. To the south of them, a rich alluvial flat of considerable width follows down the Missouri, some eight miles, to where it is lost from view at a turn, which forms the site of an Indian town of Point aux Poules."
Referring to the departure of the volunteers for Fort Leavenworth, many of whom were married and leaving wives and children, and the events connected therewith, the author said:
"There was no sentimental leave taking. The afternoon was appropriated to a farewell ball; and a more merry dancing rout I have never seen, though the company went without refreshments, and their ball room was of the most primitive. It was the custom, whenever the larger camps rested for a few days together, to make great arbors, or boweries, as they called them, of poles and brush, and wattling, as places of shelter for their meetings of devotion or conference. In one of these where the ground had been trodden firm and hard by the worshippers of the popular Father Taylor's precinct, was gathered now the mirth and beauty of the Mormon Israel. . . . Light hearts, lithe figures and light feet, had it their own way from an early hour till after the sun had dipped behind the sharp skj'-line of the Omaha hills."
The precise place where these troops were mustered does not appear in any of the works which have fallen under the eye of the writer here, but in the Journal of Sergeant William Hyde, incorporated in Sergeant Tyler's History (page 128), it is said:
"We were mustered into the service of the United States on the 16th of July, 1846, and marched to the Missouri river, a distance of eight miles. . . . "
Reverend Henry De Long, who still resides at Council Bluffs, was with the Mormons who early arrived at that place, being then some twelve or fourteen years of age. In a letter addressed to the writer November 18, 1915, he says:
"My remembrance of the raising of the Mormon Battalion is this: They had a regular city composed of wagons and tents; some four thousand inhabitants, at what is now Dodge Orchard and J. G. Rice's place. Brigham Young's tent was the most conspicuous of them all. A flag pole sixty or eighty feet high stood in front of it. Amidst the beating of drums and martial music the men fell into line as volunteers were called for. Most of those that went were counseled by Brigham Young to go. When five hundred men were secured they marched to Trader's Point and there took a steamboat for St. Louis, about the middle of July, if I remember rightly. Among them was William Garner."
This would indicate that the first rendezvous of volunteer soldiers in Western Iowa was at the identical place, upon the very same ground, as were those of later date, at the beginning of the War of the Rebellion. On the plateau on the north (right) bank of Mosquito creek, opposite the site of the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. Mr. De Long is mistaken, however, in regard to the battalion taking passage by steamboat for St. Louis. The record shows that they marched to Trader's Point (Point aux Poules) on the day of muster, where they were outfitted, and thence, by way of Black Snake Hills (St. Joseph), to Fort Leavenworth, from which point, in conjunction with other troops, they marched and found their way, along the old "Santa Fe Trail", onward to California, where, joined with the command of General Kearny, they assisted in the seizure of the territory now embraced in that State which resulted in its becoming a part of these United States.

The raising of this battalion resulted in materially modifying the plans of the emigrants. It was believed by the leaders that, with such a reduction of their numbers, the taking away of the flower of their defensive force, it would not be prudent to undertake to cross the plains that season in the face of the numerous bands of hostile Indians ; so a semi-permanent encampment was established at Council Bluffs, then still in the possession of the Pottawattamie Indians, though they had previously negotiated and some of them had signed a treaty by which their lands were ceded to the United States. These Indians were, under the circumstances, willing that the emigrants should live among them and readily granted permission.

To the end that an early resumption of their journey the following season should not be interfered with by late opening of the Missouri river, it was deemed advisable that the main body should cross the stream and, if possible, make settlement on its western (right) bank. Accordingly negotiations were begun with the Omaha Indians who then occupied the lands on that side. Those Indians being at war with the Sioux immediately recognized the advantage it would be to them to have so large a body of whites upon their northern border, who would serve as a buffer and protect them from the onslaughts of their enemies; therefore, permission was readily granted by them that the emigrants should occupy the territory for a period not exceeding two years.

Because of the beauty of the site, its desirability on account of bountiful supplies of wood and water, and because of the existence there of an abandoned trading post, with stockade, in fairly good condition, "Winter Quarters" were established upon the site later occupied by the town of Florence (now embraced within the limits of the Greater Omaha), and Brigham Young and other leaders located headquarters there.

In a work the title page of which is, "Route fromLiverpool to Great Salt Lake City, Illustrated with Steel Engravings and Wood Cuts from Sketches made by Frederick Piercy; Edited by James Linforth. Liverpool : Published by Franklin D, Richards, 36 Islington. London: Latter Day Saints' Book Depot, 35 Jevin Street, City. MDCCCLV", on page 83, in regard to Winter Quarters, it is said:
"Upwards of 1000 houses were soon built — 700 of them in about 3 months — on a pretty plateau overlooking the river, and neatly laid out with highways and by ways, and fortified with breastwork and stockade. 'It had too it» place of worship, "Tabernacle of the Congregation", and various large workshops, mills and factories provided with water power.' . . . Always capricious, and in this case instigated by white men, the Indians, notwithstanding they had formally given the Saints permission to settle upon their lands, complained to the Indian Agents that they were trespassing upon them, and they were requested to remove. From this circumstance is attributable the rise and rapid growth of Kanesville, leaving Winter Quarters again entirely to its savage inhabitants, and only ruins point to its former prosperity, and now its situation."
The visit of Mr. Piercy to this place was made in 1853 or 1854, at which time it appears that practically all of the improvements made by the Mormons had been destroyed, and the site was used merely as camping grounds for the later emigration of the Saints, and a ferry had been established there. On page 81 of the book just cited it is said:
"At Kanesville I was kindly permitted to join the emigrating company, under the presidency of Elders Miller and Cooley, . . . The company being ready to move we drove down to Ferryville, or Council Bluffs Ferry, 12 miles distant, and just opposite Winter Quarters, at which point we crossed the Missouri into Indian Territory, now Nebraska and Kansas.

"The ferry-boats are flat bottomed, and large enough to carry 2 wagons of ordinary size. The starting point is usually chosen a considerable distance up the stream, so that the current may assist in conveying the boats to the landing place on the opposite side of the river. . . . The camping place on the west side of the Missouri was about a mile from the landing, in the vicinity of 2 springs, near the site of Winter Quarters. I paid a visit to the old place, and found that some person had set fire to the last house that remained of the once flourishing settlement. . . .

(Page 84) : "Since the organization of Nebraska Territory an effort has been made, owing to the desirable situation of Winter Quarters, and its good ferriage and water facilities, to build a city by the name of Florence upon the old site."
The total population of Winter Quarters, at the time of the general removal thence in 1848, is not positively known; but, judging from the number of houses erected, it must have been in the neighborhood of from five to six thousand. Probably more than half of the people went with the departing train to Salt Lake City; and a majority of those remaining removed to Kanesville, while others settled at various places within the Pottawattamie country, notably at C^rterville, Macedonia, Springville, in Pottawattamie County, and Cutler's Camp, Coonville (now Glenwood), and Bethlehem, in what is now Mills County, the last-mentioned place having been swept away by the Missouri river long ago. It was opposite the mouth of the Platte river.

Within a few weeks after the arrival of the emigrants at the Missouri river they arranged a form of government for the contemplated en- campment at that point, in regard to which the writer has a letter from the Latter Day Saints' Historian's Office, dated Salt Lake City, Utah, December 24, 1915, giving information as follows:
"About the municipal government which obtained from 1846 till the creation of Pottawattamie County, the following is recorded in tlie Journal History of the 'Mormon Church':

" 'July 21, 1846, a High Council was organized at Council Point, near Council Bluffs, to preside over the temporal and spiritual affairs of that camp and the other settlements organ- ized since leaving Nauvoo. The following brethren were sustained as a High Council : Isaac Morley, Geo. W. Harris, James Allred, Thos. Grover, Phineas Richards, Heman Hyde, Andrew H. Perkins, Wm. G. Perkins, Henry W. Miller, Daniel Spencer, Jonathan H. Hale, and John Murdock.'

" ' The personnel of this High Council was changed from time to time as members of the same migrated to Great Salt Lake Valley, and other men were chosen to fill the vacancies; and, after the organization of Pottawattamie County, the jurisdiction of this High Council was confined to religious or spiritual affairs mainly.' "
Relative to the first occupancy of any portion of what was the original town on the site of the present city of Council Bluffs, it is said, in the letter here mentioned, that:
" ... in the advance company was Bishop Geo. Miller and also Henry W. Miller; the latter Miller soon afterwards settled in what some [time] afterwards became known as 'Miller's Hollow', while the other Miller cro.ssed the river, traveled westward [?] and wintered among the Ponca Indians, 1846-47.

"At an adjourned session of a general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, held in the log tabernacle. Miller's Hollow, April 8, 1848, Orson Hyde moved that 'the place hitherto known as Miller's Hollow be named Kanesville, in honor of Col. Thomas L. Kane."
That motion was agreed to and the name Kanesville endured until after the final general exodus of the Mormons from the locality. The log tabernacle, referred to above, was erected in December, 1847, and stood on or near what is now known as Harmony Street, between Benton and Frank Streets. The residence of Henry W. Miller, from which the original name was acquired, was north of Broadway and not far from the present site of the Federal building, near Seventh Street.

April 7, 1847, Brigham Young, at the head of an exploring party consisting of one hundred and forty-three picked men, embracing eight of the Twelve Apostles, set out from "Winter Quarters" in search of the "Promised Land". He returned on October 31st, having decided upon the Great Salt Lake Valley, and the site of the present Salt Lake City, as the most desirable location, and established a colony there.

During his absence difficulties arose between the Mormons and the Omaha Indians, resulting in a request by the Indian department of the Government for the abandonment of "Winter Quarters" and other places in the Omaha country then occupied by the Saints. Accordingly, in the spring of 1848, the great body of Mormons then in Nebraska, Brigham at the head, departed on the journey to the newly-established Zion, their train comprising six hundred wagons. Those left behind removed to various places on the Iowa side of the river, as hereinbefore stated, and "Winter Quarters", as such, ceased to exist, though it was for many years afterward used as temporary camping ground for Mormon emigrants en route to the Great Salt Lake Valley.

In the meantime, however, occurred at KanesviUe one of the most important events connected with the history of the church. By those familiar with that history it will be recalled that, after the death of Joseph Smith (the prophet), the then existing organization was aban- doned and the affairs temporal and spiritual were vested in a council.

On page 114 of the work entitled "Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake City", is found the following:
"They returned to Winter Quarters, Council Bluffs, where they arrived on the 31st of October, and an Epistle was issued on the 23d of December, by the Twelve Apostles, noticing the principal events which had befallen the Saints since the expulsion from Nauvoo, and the discovery of G. S. h. Valley. It is also stated that it is in contemplation to reorganize the Church, according to the original pattern, with First Presidency and Patriarch. Accordingly, on the 24th, the day following, at a conference held at the 'Log Tabernacle' in KanesviUe, State of Iowa, the suggestion was brought before the Saints who 'hailed it as an action which the state of the work at present demanded', and 'Brigham Young was nominated to be the First President of the Church, and he nominated Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards to be his two counsellors, which nominations were seconded and carried without a dissentient voice'. The appointment was afterwards acknowledged at a General Conference on the 6th of April, 1848, at the same place at which the appointment was made."
Upon the abandonment of "Winter Quarters" Kanesville became the church official headquarters for the Missouri river country. On page 648 of "The History of Salt Lake City and its Founders, by Edward W. Tullidge", published by authority of the organization at Salt Lake City, from which work have been gleaned many of the facts set forth herein, appears the following:
"Before the return of the Pioneers to the mountains, they appointed Orson Pratt to preside over the mission in Great Britain, and to push emigration to the fullest extent, while Orson Hyde, George A. Smith and E. T. Benson were stationed at Council Bluffs to receive the emigrants from abroad, and to promote their speedy removal to the Valley, as well as the removal of those of the community who had concentrated there after the exodus from Nauvoo."
In the letter from the Latter Day Saints Historian's Office, to which referisnce has hereinbefore been made, it is said :
" ... After the evacuation of Winter Quarters (now Florence), in 1848, nearly all of the Mormons who did not migrate to the 'Valley' that year settled in and near Pottawattamie County, with headquarters at Kanesville, and at one time there were about forty branches of the Church on that side of the Missouri river. Apostle Orson Hyde presided almost continuouly from 1848 to 1852."
Upon petitions submitted by Brigham Young, the Iowa legislature provided for the temporary organization "into a county, by the name of Pottawattamie", of "the country embraced within the limits of what is called the 'Pottawattamie Purchase', the act being approved February 24, 1847 ; and the Government of the United States established a postoffice at "Miller's Hollow'', to be known as "Kane", January 17, 1848, and Evan M. Greene was appointed postmaster February 7, 1848. Shortly afterward (precise date not officially shown, nor location given, ) another postoffice was established in Pottawattamie County, known as "Nebraska", as the postmaster for which Joseph T. Pendleton was named. May 30, 1849. Inasmuch as it is within the knowledge of the writer that Mr. Pendleton resided at Trader's Point; that the name of the Office is shown by official records to have been changed to Council Bluffs May 30, 1850, and to Trader's Point on December 10, 1852; that on a map published in 1851 the latter-named place was borne as Council Bluffs; that the name of Kane postoffice was changed to Council Bluffs on December 10, 1852, it would seem reasonable to believe that the postoffice of Nebraska was located at Trader's Point. On March 11, 1850, a postoffice was established at Macedonia. All of these resulted from Mormon effort.

February 7, 1849, was issued the first number of the publication called the Frontier Guardian, not precisely a newspaper though in the form of one; an organ of the Saints, published by Apostle Orson Hyde. Still, it did publish items that might be termed news, but pertaining almost exclusively to church matters. Of course these characteristics were in a measure unavoidable, even had the inclination to make them otherwise existed, because of the isolation of the community on the extreme frontier beyond the lines of ordinary communication. In one of the early issues it was said :
"It affords unmeasured pleasure to see the favorable results of some limited exertions, not long since made, in favor of education. Two flourishing schools in our little town, of about eighty scholars each, conducted by a principal and assistant to each one, with many others in various parts of the country that have sprung into existence."
Its issue of June 12, 1850, estimates the number of teams crossing the river during the season, up to that date, at about four thousand five hundred, with probably thirteen thousand five hundred men and about twenty -two thousand horses, mules, oxen and cows; and states that Orson Hyde 's own train would probably consist of seven hundred wagons, with two carding machines and other valuable machinery; also four thousand sheep and five thousand cattle, and added :
"We have attended the organization of three hundred and fifty wagons of Salt Lake emigrants up to Saturday the 8th inst. We left them at Council Grove, twelve miles from Bethlehem, west of the Missouri river."
Mr. Kane, in the paper from which quotation has been made hereinbefore, referring to means of crossing the river, said :
"Our nearest ferry was that over the Missouri. Nearly opposite the Pull Point, or Point aux Poules, a trading post of the American Fur Company, and village of the Pottawattamies."
The ferry referred to by him was owned and operated by Peter A. Sarpy - "Colonel Peter A. Sarpy, by-gad, sir," — as he was wont himself to say, who was what our English friends would term the American Fur Company's "Factor" at Bellevue, nearly opposite Trader's Point, anrl lie had established such exorbitant rates for ferriage that an opposition establishment was set up a short distance below, at the mouth of the Platte river below the mouth of which was its western landing. James A. Little, in his book entitled "From Kirtland to Salt Lake", to which the present writer is under obligations, referring to the year 1852, says :
"For some reason the most of the Mormon emigration traveled the south side of the Platte. They crossed the Missouri river eighteen miles below Kanesville at an insignificant hamlet called Bethlehem." (Page 240.)
Mr. Little visited Council Bluffs in 1854 and spent some days there renewing old acquaintance. In describing the place as then seen he said, among other things, that:
"Through the western part of the town ran Indian (alias Lousey) creek. . . . Running along its western bank about half a mile was Greene Street, so named in honor of Mr. Evan Greene, who was one of the first residents in the locality. He was an early pioneer and the first postmaster of the place, then called Kanesville, in honor of Col. Thos. L. Kane, the philanthropist."
He had his points of the compass slightly mixed as any one acquainted with the place will readily perceive. At the time of which he wrote Indian creek scarcely touched the western part of the town. It ran through the northern part, for about the distance mentioned by him, turning to the north at the western edge of the town as it then existed, and, skirting the foot of the bluffs for a short way, lost itself in a swamp at the site of Dagger's Mill. But, this is digressing slightly from Mormon days, extending beyond the period of actual Mormon occupancy.

Dagger's Mill was erected by Madison Dagger, about 1848, originally a grist mill exclusively; but later a saw was added. Its power was derived from the waters of Indian creek poured upon an overshot wheel. The dam was at Benton street, and the water was carried in a ditch along the north bank of the original stream to the edge of the bluff under which the mill was situated. This ditch followed along the south side of the western part of Greene street, which, for that reason, was called Race street (now Washington Avenue), and was no doubt the stream which Mr. Little supposed to be the creek itself.

Almon W. Babbitt, an elder of the Mormon Church and a man of strong personality and combative instincts, never in very high favor with the ruling powers, seems to have disliked Apostle Hyde 's methods of conducting the Frontier Guardian, and, therefore, in 1850, he founded an opposition publication named the Weekly Western Bugle. It was the fashion among newspapers at that time to carry below the main head line some kind of a motto, and Brother Babbitt seems to have received inspiration for his from the well-known lines of "The Battle Field", by William Cullen Bryant:
"Truth crushed to earth shall rise again,
Truth crushed to earth shall rise again, --
The eternal years of God are hers;
But error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among her worshippers".
So, the motto adopted for the Bugle was, "Truth, tho' crushed, shall rise again." With the departure of Apostle Hyde for Salt Lake City, in 1852, his publication was absorbed by that of Babbitt and the title became the Weekly Western Bugle and Frontier Guardian, under which the paper continued so long as the existing advertising contracts of the Guardian remained in force, when, the name of the town having been changed, the title of the paper became Weekly Council Bluffs Bugle. By this time the concern had passed into the ownership of Joseph E. Johnson and L. 0. Littlefield, the former, an elder of the Mormon church, being editor, and the latter, a layman printer, the publisher. But this was after the almost exclusive occupancy and complete control of the town, which had existed for upward of six years, had passed from the church.

No evidence has been found to indicate that newspapers or any periodical publications other than the two mentioned, were issued at Kanesville or in the vicinity during the official occupancy by the Mormons. It is believed that there were none.

Although the "Stakes of Zion" — (such as Garden Grove, Mount Pisgah, and Winter Quarters) — established by the "Camps of Israel" along the line of march from Nauvoo to Great Salt Lake City were intended merely to be temporary camps, or way stations, fairly permanent improvements were made at each. Tabernacles were erected, mills built, and business houses established, as indicated by the extract above made from "Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake City" descriptive of Winter Quarters; though that was by far the largest and most important of thciii all. True, no buildings were constructed of brick or stone, nor docs it appear that bricks were at any of them manufactured under the direction of the; church authorities; but Rev. Henry De Long, who has been hereinbefore quoted, under date of March 24, 1916, has informed the writer that :
"In 1849, a man by the name of Roberts started a pottery in "Duck Hollow", what is now Harrison Street, a short distance north of the junction of Harrison and Harmony Streets. In connection with the pottery, a man whose name I have forgotten, burned a brick kiln, and these brick were used in the construction of the little powder magazine that stood on the hill back of the Ogden House."
Inasmuch as the surrounding adjacent country was devoid of coal of any kind, the blacksmiths and other workers in metal were de- pendent for fuel supplies upon the steamboats of the American Fur Company, which passed up and down the river once or twice each season, and upon charcoal manufactured in the locality, consequently there were numerous charcoal pits or kilns in and about Kanesville.

When the exodus from Winter Quarters occurred, in May, 1848, the more important of the business concerns of the place removed to Great Salt Lake City, and a number of the smaller establishments recrossed the Missouri river and located at Kanesville and adjacent small towns. Many of these became fixtures and grew into the leading business concerns in the early life of Council Bluffs.

Mormon control in Western Iowa, especially at Kanesville, ceased in the spring of 1852, when Apostle Orson Hyde departed, bag and baggage, with all the Saints whom he could by any means induce to accompany him.



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