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After the Mormon Battalion left, life continued back at Winter Quarters. Sorenson explains that Winter Quarters was moved to the other side of the river after the Mormon Battalion had left. Preparations were then made for that winter, including the building of a combined total of about 1,000 log cabins and dugouts in addi- tion to some tents that were not in the best condition. There were hardships at Winter Quarters over that win- ter, and there was a number of deaths, but spring did eventually come for the 15,000 camped in the area. Once Brigham Young decided that a group should move forward and blaze a trail for the following Saints. This group, comprised of 148 people and 72 wagons, left the settlement in early April of 1847 (Sorenson 990-991). Brigham Young led the expedition as they worked their way into their eventual destination, the Salt Lake Valley. The trek of the first company was not free of trials. There were many hardships, including Indians and illness. Sorenson shares that Indians played a part in the trials of this advanced group of saints. There were times when smoke could be seen due to the Indians burning the land, which burned the feed for the company’s ani- mals. There was at least one unfriendly meeting between the Saints and the Indians when a small group was out looking for stolen horses and was attacked by Indians. The Indians did not fully attack at first, but shots were eventually fired. None of those in the group of Saints were injured. Brigham Young realized the importance of making friends with the Indians. He would leave gifts and food for them, even though these supplies could have been well-used by the traveling party. These gifts would hopefully allow for somewhat friendly relations for the following companies of Saints (Sorenson 992). The Saints did not have too many hostile confrontations with the Native Americans, though they did have a fair amount of worry and trouble. The Saints journeyed at a time when travel out west was not as uncommon as it once had been. Other settlers also journeyed out west for diverse reasons, including fur-trapping and farming. The Saints not only had encounters with the local tribes, but also with other Americans. One such encounter, explains Sorenson, was with the well-known Jim Bridger. His party happened to be traveling in the opposite direction of Brigham Young’s group, but he did invite the Saints to spend some time at his trading post, Fort Bridger. He also spent some time talking to the Prophet Joseph Smith. When Bridger heard that the Saints’ destination was not Califor- nia or Oregon, but the Great Basin, he was not terribly optimistic. In fact, he stated, “Mr. Young, I would give a thousand dollars if I knew that an ear of corn could be ripened in these mountains. I have been here twenty years and have tried it in vain, over and over again” (qtd. in Sorenson 993). Others affiliated with Bridger shared that a frost occurred every month and that the Great Salt Lake area could not support life “except Indians, coy- otes, sagebrush and crickets!” (Sorenson 993). According to some, the Saints were crazy for going to the Great Basin, but they continued in their journey. The hardships that this company faced were not over yet. Sorenson explains that after the Saints’ brief stay at Fort Bridger and the subsequent departure, mountain fever took its toll on them. Saints who were healthier were told to form an advance party and travel ahead. Eventually, this group of scouts would arrive in the Great Salt Lake Valley, leaving a road of sorts for the others to follow (Sorenson 993-994). After seeing the place, Brigham Young’s words were, “It is enough. This is the right place” (qtd. in Our Heritage). Sorenson ex- presses that the area was not much desired. In fact, Horace Greeley, the well-known American publisher, would say that even if the Saints had paid the government a penny per acre, the Saints would have come up on the short end of the stick (Sorenson 994). The Saints would eventually make a haven of the place, but at the time, the area was a stricken spot of earth, at least regarding the geography and layout of the land. Notwithstanding the circumstance of the land, the Saints had finally found a sort of home. This place was where they would sur- vive and thrive for many generations to come. Other pioneers would soon follow. Our Heritage shares that about 62,000 Mormon Pioneers would fol- low this first group. Some of the members of the first company to leave with Brigham Young returned to Winter Quarters to help their families leave as well. By the time autumn rolled around in 1847, approximately 2,000 Saints were in the Salt Lake Valley. Crops were planted—between 5,000- and 6,000-acres’ worth—and work for preparation for a temple was initiated. This was when the miracle of the Seagulls occurred. Grasshoppers, in staggering numbers, would devour their fields. After a time of prayer and fasting, seagulls arrived and relieved 33
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