Mormon Vanguard Brigade Of 1847

Mormon Vanguard Brigade Of 1847: Norton Jacob's Record

Edited by Ronald O. Barney
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 408
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    Mormon Vanguard Brigade Of 1847
    Book Description:

    There are no historical events that have more iconic significance for the people of Utah than the trek of the vanguard company of Mormons west in 1847. Its meaning may vary, but overall, the march has a highly symbolic and seminal historical importance for virtually all Utahns. While the journey has been widely celebrated, memorialized, and even sanctified and various books have been written about it, there is more that can be said and understood about the migration's place in western history; about its context, including events preceding and following it; and about the real experiences of its participants. Particularly lacking in most published accounts are the stories of the rank and file members, the individuals who, in contrast to the well-known leadership, with Brigham Young at the top, might fittingly be called foot soldiers. The 1847 company had a military-like organization, which is captured by Ronald Barney's term brigade in the title. Norton Jacob was such a man of the ranks in 1847. He had no special status in the Mormon Church, and there was little to make him stand out in the historical record than that he left what is regarded by many trail historians as one of the best and most informative journals of the early Mormon emigration. While the heart of Jacob's record concerns the 1847 journey, there is much more to it. The diary published here begins in 1844, the year of church founder Joseph Smith's murder. It continues through the crisis events that followed: the Mormons' flight from Nauvoo, their trudging journey across Iowa to Winter Quarters, and the beginnings of mass migration to Utah. After the apex of 1847, the arc of the narrative moves through accounts of Jacob's return to Nauvoo late that year and of the much larger Mormon emigration in 1848. It reaches denouement in a short record of his first years in Salt Lake Valley.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-525-0
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. IX-X)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    There is, for modern observers, nothing quite like the eyewitness account of a significant historic event. And a first-hand view of a protracted epic is, being so rare, almost more than one can hope for.¹ Norton Jacob, a Massachusetts son born just two centuries ago, penned, over a period of nine years beginning in 1844, one of the finer and more illuminating first-person accounts of the removal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the Mississippi River Valley to their new homeland in the West’s Great Basin. From the confusion following their prophet’s martyrdom in June 1844,...

  5. Norton Jacob’s Life
    (pp. 15-27)

    Sheffield, Massachusetts’s village cemetery, Bow Wow by name, became the final resting place for several generations of Norton Jacob’s family, whose antecedents arrived in Britain’s American colonies in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Native American claims and rights in southwestern Massachusetts, where Sheffield sat, had been extinguished by a growing Anglo presence and colonial government in 1724. Within a generation, the Jacob and Kellogg families, Norton’s ancestors, called the frontier village home. By the time Norton’s grandfather Richard Jacob, Jr., was born there in 1760, during the French and Indian War, Sheffield was the most populous settlement in...

  6. Reminiscence and 1844
    (pp. 28-41)

    Norton Jacob, forty years old in 1844, begins his record with a memoir of his investigation of and entry into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840–1841. Jacob’s embrace of a religion held in derision by its neighbors wherever its membership located, besides a suspicious media, was met by his family similarly. Having emigrated to Hancock County, the western-most county in Illinois, in the mid-1830s, the Jacobs witnessed the Mormon arrival in Nauvoo, Illinois, and their expansion into the county. The tension likely escalated when Norton physically separated from his parents and siblings and moved to...

  7. 1845
    (pp. 42-62)

    A constrained uneasiness settled over Hancock County, Illinois, for most of a year in the aftermath of the Smith brothers’ assassinations. As fall dawned in 1845, bad decisions, misunderstanding, and polemical politics led to hot words and then exasperated aggression on Hancock County’s prairie, kindling a full breach with bullets flying and fires burning. Before winter, Brigham Young, now the primary leader of the Latter-day Saints, recognized the inevitable. His people’s destiny was removal from Illinois to some distant site or sites, out of reach of their countrymen. Amidst this precarious setting, the Nauvoo Temple’s completion for the purpose of...

  8. 1846
    (pp. 63-91)

    Preparations to abandon the Mormon capital of Nauvoo escalated through the winter. The sacred ordinances of the temple, still under construction, were made available to all who desired and qualified for the blessing. The last day of religious temple activity in the first week of February was almost coincident to the first exile crossing the Mississippi River. Over the next eight months, thousands of Saints traversed the Iowa landscape en route to temporary respite at the Missouri River. Jacob and his family crossed the Mississippi mid-June in concert with the bulk of the Mormon refugees that year. First at Cold...

  9. January–April 1847
    (pp. 92-120)

    While many unknowns, not the least of which was their ultimate geographical objective, hovered over the Saints after a winter on the Missouri River, Norton Jacob was recruited to join the vanguard of Mormon emigration to the West. He settled his family on the Iowa side of the Missouri in Pottawattamie County while he ventured with his comrades. He was appointed one of fourteen captains of ten as the twelve dozen who composed the company organized in mid-April in eastern Nebraska. By the end of the month the pilgrims had traced the north bank of the Loup Fork River before...

  10. May 1847
    (pp. 121-156)

    Two weeks into their journey, the Mormon overlanders entered the legendary realm of the American bison in central Nebraska. Dazzled and astonished by the sheer number of the behemoths of the plains, the Saints killed the beasts for food and some for sport. The Oregon/California trail followed the Platte River’s south bank while the Saints’ route paralleled the Platte River’s meanderings on the north side as they climbed to the high Wyoming plains. By the end of the month they passed the sites now part of western trail mystique including Ash Hollow, Chimney Rock, and Scotts Bluff. They were also...

  11. June 1847
    (pp. 157-191)

    The Saints arrived at the nearly twenty-thousand square foot Fort Laramie, located on the bank of Laramie’s Fork in eastern Wyoming on 1 June. There the vanguard met and were joined by a group of Mississippi Mormons who had wintered at Pueblo, Colorado, with the Mormon Battalion’s sick detachment, whose main body had traversed the American Southwest before finishing their Mexican War enlistment in California. From Fort Laramie on, the Saints shared the western trail with those bound for Oregon and California. Having passed buffalo country, feeding off the landscape became more difficult and nature’s sustenance became scarce for a...

  12. July 1847
    (pp. 192-233)

    The last stretch of their journey faced the Mormon vanguard during the height of the western summer. It was to be the most physically formidable segment of the trek. Crossing the Green River, they pressed on past Black’s and Ham’s forks of the Green to Fort Bridger on 7 July, frontiersman Jim Bridger’s trading post. They hardly stopped to recruit their animals. Many were afflicted in Wyoming by Colorado Tick Fever which slowed the journey, even disabling Brigham Young. Fording the Bear River, they soon entered Echo Canyon traveling downhill to the Great Salt Lake Valley, or so it seemed....

  13. August 1847
    (pp. 234-252)

    With the vanguard and Mississippi Saints joined in the valley by the Mormon Battalion’s sick detachment, the foundations of Great Salt Lake City, including a fort, were established in late July and early August 1847. (Before the month was over, they were joined by nine other companies of Mormon pioneers, numbering over 1,500 new settlers.) The 111 day journey to the Salt Lake Valley was only the first half of the season’s travel for many of the vanguard. Joined by a number of their Battalion veteran comrades, four sections of the Saints organized for a return to Winter Quarters on...

  14. September–December 1847
    (pp. 253-273)

    Retracing their route from Winter Quarters, Norton Jacob’s hunters and the ox teams who followed them eastward found themselves fraught with friction and frustration. Accusations and threats between the groups were followed by reconciliation, a return to strife, and another mending of feelings. The large Mormon body which moved westward earlier in the year tended to negate Native American mischief against emigrants. But with the Saints stretched out across the plains in smaller numbers on their return, the Plains Indians of Nebraska were emboldened. Threat of Indian depredations proved to be the stimulus for reconciliation between the fractious returnees who...

  15. 1848
    (pp. 274-299)

    Norton Jacob’s plan in 1848 was to adequately outfit his wife and family for their journey to the Great Basin that summer. Preparing for months with hundreds of fellow Saints for their final push to the West, Jacob equipped his family and assisted his neighbors for their western adventure. Departing the first part of June, his family’s overland travel, retracing the vanguards’ route the previous year, found them in the Salt Lake Valley the third week of September. Before their arrival, Jacob’s oldest son Oliver, ill since their departure, finally succumbed upon reaching Independence Rock. Once in Utah, Jacob quickly...

  16. 1849–1852
    (pp. 300-312)

    Norton Jacob continued his work in 1849 working to build one of the first mills constructed in Utah, a vocation as a millwright that he continued during much of the remainder of his life. Immersed in religious faith, Jacob entered the unique practice of Mormon plural marriage in 1851. (He later multiplied his vows with two other women.) At the time this record terminates he has selected as his residence Great Salt Lake City, though this would later change.

    Satturday Jan. 6th 1849 The Council & Brethren in the City have ordained & established a Bank of deposit so as to Keep...

  17. Appendix 1 Norton Jacob’s Family Record
    (pp. 313-317)
  18. Appendix 2 Roster of the Pioneer Camp
    (pp. 318-319)
  19. Biographical Notes
    (pp. 320-372)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 373-386)
  21. Index
    (pp. 387-398)