Pioneering Journeys: Then and Now
July 15, 1997
July 15, 1997
Yesterday morning I awoke in a comfortable bed and breakfast establishment in Cambridge, England. I was some 6,000 miles away from Utah. My one-day journey home required a taxi ride to the Cambridge train station, a short train ride into and through London, and another train ride south to Gatwick Airport. After checking my luggage, which would be handled by others for me, I boarded a modern jet airliner. After about 13 hours of flying in a temperature-controlled environment, I was back in Utah. With the exception of making a few connections and watching for ever-present pickpockets, my major concerns related to choosing my food and beverage and what movie to watch or music to listen to. I chose to read most of the journey, with the convenience of a modern bathroom close by and a telephone easily available if I wished to communicate with loved ones anywhere in the world.
If your travel experiences are anything like mine, it is very hard to compare or relate our modern journeys with those of the early Mormon pioneers. It is true that I covered the same distance and even the same general route, but at 550 miles per hour it was a long way from the dozen or so miles traveled in a whole day in a jolting, dusty covered wagon. But my journey of some 17 total hours, most of which was at seven miles above the earth, cannot be compared to those of our pioneer ancestors, whose trek to the Salt Lake Valley from England took about six months.
Then, too, so few members of the Church today have ancestors who crossed the plains before 1869, when the transcontinental railroad was completed and the journey became much easier. And with more of the membership increasingly non-American, such an identification becomes more problematical. Members in Hungary or Tahiti probably have little connection with handcarts or buffalo chips. Is it the physical distances covered and the endurance of the accompanying hardships that define a pioneering experience? If so, how are we of the modern Church to relate more personally to the pioneer sesquicentennial? Does making our own soap and candles make us pioneers? What are the enduring lessons for all of us?
Even before the first wagons pulled out of Nauvoo in February 1846, more than 4,000 English converts had gathered to western Illinois. Traveling from Liverpool to New Orleans and then up the Mississippi River, they had responded to the message of Mormon missionaries that required baptism and confirmation as well as a physical movement to the American Zion. Gathering out of the world was signified by their baptism and membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And gathering to be where the Lord’s prophet and his people were was as much a part of conversion as was baptism. Both worked together to require new members to create a community of the faithful who, in time, would establish a latter-day Zion. Wherever the Mormons gathered, they built communities wherein Saints could be made. This was what Joseph Smith had in mind when he taught that we “ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object” (Teachings,p.160).
Following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in June 1844, increased pressure was placed on Church leaders to abandon Nauvoo. Escalating violence led to the decision during the winter of 1845–46 to move west. In fact,Brigham Young had ordered the establishment of 25 companies of 100 wagons each in October 1845, thus planning one massive 2,500-wagon caravan for the spring of 1846. Although Mormon leaders anticipated a springtime departure,the first wagons left Nauvoo on February 4, 1846, beginning the 265-mile trek across Iowa to their “Winter Quarters.” The move across Iowa involved a number of groupings: (1) from March to June Brigham Young led about 3,000 people; (2) in the spring, about 10,000 members left Nauvoo; and (3) in the fall about 700 of the poorest members were forced from Nauvoo. About 16,000 members would make the Iowa crossing between 1846 and 1853.1It was in the crossing of Iowa that the early members became pioneers. Short though the distance seems, it was hard going, very challenging, and tragic for many families. William Clayton’s pioneering anthem “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (Hymns, 1985, no. 30) is a powerful reminder of this part of our early history.2
The Latter-day Saints would establish about 100 communities in the Missouri River Valley, mostly on the eastern side of the river across from present-day Omaha, Nebraska. Winter Quarters was laid out on the west side of the river, and it was modeled with some variation after the plat of the city of Zion that Joseph Smith had sent to the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, in 1833. On the eastern side of the river, Kanesville would serve as the quasi-headquarters and outfitting point of the Mormon migration from 1847 to 1852, especially after Winter Quarters was abandoned in 1848. It was in this area that the Mormon Battalion was enlisted for service in the Mexican-American War in 1846. It was in the Kanesville Tabernacle that Brigham Young was sustained in 1847 as the second president of the Church. The community also established a newspaper, The Frontier Guardian, published by the apostle Orson Hyde. During this period Mormon Indian policy was more fully implemented. After the Mormons left, the community was renamed Council Bluffs. The full story of this part of our history has yet to be told.
In April 1847 the pioneer company whose arrival in the Salt Lake Valley we are celebrating this month left Winter Quarters for the Great Basin. Led by Brigham Young and organized according to the principles spelled out in D&C 136, the company’s journey has been well documented by such records as those kept by Thomas Bullock, William Clayton, and Orson Pratt. But it was not a typical pioneer company: it was 98 percent male, whereas most all subsequent companies were 51 percent male. It was, by later standards, an older group: where the first company’s average age was 32, the average age of the other 1847 companies was 21.3 But the original company was exactly that: a pioneering company whose observations, decisions, and subsequent leadership would set the pattern for those who followed.4
A great many did. There were about 224 overland companies of Mormon emigrants from 1847 to 1868, containing about 62,000 people. When this number is considered with the 226 companies involved in ocean crossings during the same period,we clearly had a large number of pioneering journeys. We ought not just concentrate on the overland crossings: one woman said that she would rather cross the Great Plains 10 times rather than cross the Atlantic Ocean once!
A large number of contemporary and reminiscent accounts of Mormon pioneering treks have survived. Much more time and literature has been devoted to the physical trek itself, and we have reminders of it almost everywhere we look this month. My point today is that the physical journey was only the outward and thus more easily measured manifestation of the pioneer experience. But I would suggest that the journey was a symbol of something deeper, and it is that part of the pioneering journey we can more easily relate to. Today I would like to consider other perspectives on the pioneer experience.
Whereas we tend to think of Brigham Young as the Mormon Moses, it is even more appropriate to see Joseph Smith as the Moses of Latter-day Israel. This is true in his role as a lawgiver and revealer of scripture. But he was also a leader of people and a community builder.
It is increasingly recognized just how pervasive the world of the Old Testament was in early Mormonism. The Book of Mormon and its people came directly out of this world, and many of its themes are more clearly understood within this context. Consider such examples as the early Mormon emphasis on such topics as prophets, patriarchs, temples, tabernacles, and plural marriage—to only mention the most obvious. The appearance in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 of prophets of ancient Israel who delivered priesthood keys to Joseph and his associates also serves to remind us of the intimate relationship Mormons have with the ancient Israelites (see D&C 110).
One of the key themes in the Book of Mormon is that of exodus: the departure of groups into the wilderness under divine commandment and guidance.5 Thus the departure of Lehi and his family from Jerusalem and Nephi’s own departure from his rebellious brothers were conscious imitations of Israel’s earlier flight into the wilderness where they could be free from persecution to establish a righteous society. Of course the journey into the wilderness was a conscious rejection of the world they left behind;but it was also a journey during which they could develop into more righteous followers of God.
Although the followers of Laman and Lemuel could never believe Jerusalem was a wicked place, Nephi’s followers rejoiced in their journeyings in the wilderness. The Lord led the people out of the land of Jerusalem “that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch” (Jacob 2:25), and Jacob described his people therefore being “a lonesome and a solemn people,wanderers” (Jacob 7:26). Alma reminds his people that “because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored” (Alma 13:23). Wandering and being blessed went together. Biblical scholars suggest that the word habri, which we translate as “Hebrew,”literally means “wanderer or outsider.” Thus Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, was a wanderer. And Paul suggested in his first-centuryEpistle to the Hebrews that they were “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” seeking a better country or a heavenly city (see Hebrews 11:13–16).
Enoch was the ultimate model of the wanderer who gathered a righteous people together and then eventually obtained this heavenly city. Joseph Smith, whose code name in the early sections of the Doctrine and Covenants was Enoch, consciously sought the same for his people. The early Mormon quest to establish the city of Zion was directly related to this scriptural heritage. In an early revelation (7 March 1831), the Enoch story was presented anew:
And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me.
Wherefore, come ye unto it, and with him that cometh I will reason as with men in days of old, and I will show unto you my strong reasoning.
Wherefore, hearken ye together and let me show unto you even my wisdom—the wisdom of him whom ye say is the God of Enoch, and his brethren.
Who were separated from the earth, and were received unto myself—a city reserved until a day of righteousness shall come—a day which was sought for by all holy men, and they found it not because of wickedness and abominations;
And confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth;
But obtained a promise that they should find it and see it in their flesh. [D&C 45:9–14]
Much of the early Mormon experience was focused on establishing a latter-day Zion.6 The first Camp of Israel, which was also called Zion’s Camp, was an organized attempt of early leaders to recover Church property in their appointed Zion in Jackson County, Missouri, from which early members had been forcefully expelled. The some 205 individuals were organized in Kirtland, Ohio, after the organization of ancient Israel, into companies of 100s, 50s, and 10s by Joseph Smith.7 He led the march personally and sought to instruct those members about their priesthood duties. Brigham Young, appointed as a captain of 10 on this 1834 trek, recalled later in his life that it was then he first learned how to lead Israel:
I have travelled with Joseph a thousand miles [as] he has led the Camp of Israel. I have watched him and observed every thing he said or did . . . for the town of Kirtland I would not give the knowledge I got from Joseph on this Journey; and then you may take the State of Ohio and the United States, and I would not give that knowledge for them. It has done me good . . . and this was the starting point of my knowing how to lead Israel.8
He also recalled that “this was the first time [the Church] had ever travelled in the capacity of a large company, and it was my first experience in that mode of travelling” (JD 10:20 [6 October 1862]). Although many returned to Kirtland, Ohio, with negative perceptions of the march, Brigham Young saw the prophetic nature of the experience. He surely saw the continued meaning of such an organization when the Church was again organized into companies of 100s, 50s, and 10s in 1838 in Far West, northern Missouri.9 Such an organization was used in the Iowa crossing as well, and there ought to have been little question that when President Young turned to the matter of organizing the Mormon exodus from Winter Quarters in 1847 that the same organization for “their journeyings” would be given to the Saints.
The Word and Will of the Lord concerning the Camp of Israel in their journeyings to the West:
Let all the people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and those who journey with them, be organized into companies, with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord our God.
Let the companies be organized with captains of hundreds, captains of fifties, and captains of tens, with a president and his two counselors at their head, under the direction of the Twelve Apostles.
And this shall be our covenant—that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord. [D&C 136:1–4]
Although it is true that the Mormons were forced to move west, they understood that their hegira involved more. Brigham Young recalled in 1856:
I said, upon natural principles, that this people had to go to a country that the Gentiles do not desire. . . .
. . . This people can only gain strength upon the principle of fleeing to a country where the wicked will not live.10
As a people called to wander, in the early Latter-day Saint self-understanding this was seen to be at the heart of the mortal experience. As in ancient Israel, the Mormon exodus would create a community of people with shared experiences and memories. The consistent Mormon practice of naming their settlements, both on the trail and later in Utah, after Old Testament place-names is just another index to their worldview.
In Mormon thought, then and now, the original exodus was that of Adam and Eve—a fall divinely approved that required them to wander away from their Eden because of their choices. Becoming pilgrims had a divine purpose, but it always reminded them that this “lone and dreary world” was not their home. Here they were strangers until they were worthy and prepared to return to their true home. For them the gospel of Jesus Christ was the way back to the world and the relationships they had lost. But here they could be tested; here they could seek, through their personal experience, for the true and the beautiful in contrast to the false and ugly (cf. Articles of Faith 1:13).
Their external exodus was also paralleled by their need for an internal pilgrimage. Following their partaking of the forbidden fruit, the first question God asked Adam was, “Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9). Clearly not just a question of geography, the question was more directed to travelers, as translated in Moses: “Where goest thou?”(Moses 4:15, emphasis added). The need to anchor this wandering in holy places became a consistent theme in scriptural history: the temple was to be the place for learning of our mortal pilgrimage and to make the covenants that give us the knowledge and relationships needed to travel successfully through the wilderness of this fallen world.11 To travel to the temple, then and now, was to make a personal pilgrimage. To journey was to remember.
Jorge Borges, the twentieth-century author, tells the story of a young man he knew in his youth who had suffered a head injury as a result of a fall from a horse.12 But his injury was unique: instead of amnesia or loss of memory, this individual found that he could not forget anything. As students preparing for exams, you no doubt wish for such a “blessing.” But Borges suggests the tragic consequences of this inability to forget: Imagine the experience of seeing a leaf on a tree and being able to remember every other leaf you had ever seen. Imagine then comparing the veins of each leaf with the marbling on the leather binding of a book you had seen earlier in your life and being able to recall how similar this was to the marbling of the countertop of the drugstore at which you used to get your ice-cream sodas. Then imagine seeing the same structuring in the bark of trees you had laid under as a child or in the countless cloud formations you had observed. Then imagine continuing this mode of remembering into hundreds of objects and topics—it would go on without end because you have a perfect memory of everything you have ever seen. Of course such an injury would be tragic—in large measure because such extensive memory treats everything equally. His friend’s memory, Borges says, was like a garbage disposal,because all events and experiences were of the same value; hence, there was no basis for choosing or evaluating them. In such a situation we would drown in details, because to think is to forget a difference, and memory must be selective.
Thus forgetfulness is a blessing! It surely helps keep us sane, and viewed within our theology, it allows us to reveal where our hearts are by what we choose to think about. Where one’s treasure is, there is one’s heart, we are told (see Matthew 6:21). All knowledge is not of the same value, and if we do not wish to fill our minds with trivia, we must make careful decisions about what we remember. But to forget the really important things is just as dangerous. So what are we to do?
In our religion, both covenant-making ordinances and the keeping and studying of sacred records are the major means used to “enlarge the memory of this people” (see Alma 37:8). The instituting of the sacrament by the Savior was done during the celebration of the feast of the Passover, the major ritual associated with the Exodus of Israel from Egypt.13Such sacred rituals were important for the group memory of Israel—regularly recalling the saving events of their origins. Jesus refocused and recentered the ritual on his own saving acts by using the bread and wine as symbols of his own infinite sacrifice. As acts of remembrance, covenant-making and covenant-renewal ceremonies such as the partaking of the sacrament have remained in the LDS community one of the critical means of sacred memory.14The assumption was central: “They did remember his words; and therefore they went forth, keeping the commandments” (Helaman 5:14). One remembered and then acted upon this knowledge. A critical function of the Holy Ghost,we are told, is to bring all important things to our remembrance (see John14:26). The evil one wants us to forget the important things. He is identified with darkness, which comes in the forgetting of sacred things.
The sacred acts such as those constituting the temple endowment function the same way. The temple itself in LDS thought offers sacred space where the individual is taught divine cosmology and endowed with knowledge and power from on high. By helping us travelers get our bearings on the universe, these covenants are promises to “give life to knowledge,” in that they give individuals direction and promises that can enable them to journey through this life righteously and therefore successfully.15 The experience itself is a strong reminder that we are pilgrims in mortality, exiled from heavenly parents for wise purposes.
The trip to the temple is itself a type of a pilgrimage to a holy place. Unless we understand this, we will not understand why members living in Nauvoo would work all day on the construction of the temple and then on their wagons for the westward journey through much of the night. Where the one would prepare them for the physical journey, the other was critical for their spiritual journey. In September 1846 Brigham Young encouraged the Saints during trying times: “Let the fire of the covenant which you made in the House of the Lord burn in your hearts.”16 We must not forget that the concern for construction of a temple anchored both ends of the Mormon westward movement. In Nauvoo Brigham Young worked hard to encourage his people to finish the temple, and one of the first things he did upon entering the Salt Lake Valley was to select a site for another temple. Early members like Sarah Rich understood the deeper meaning of all this. She recalled her experiences in Iowa in 1846:
But many were the blessings we had received in the House of the Lord which has caused us joy and comfort in the midst of all our sorrows and enabled us to have faith in God knowing he would guide us and sustain us in the unknown journey that lay before us, for if it had not been for the faith and knowledge that was bestowed upon us in that temple by the influence and help of the Spirit of the Lord our journey would have been like one taking a leap in the dark. To start out on such a journey in the winter as it were, and in our state of poverty it would seem like walking into the jaws of death but we had faith in our heavenly father and we put our trust in him feeling that we were his chosen people and had embraced his gospel and instead of sorrow we felt to rejoice that the day of our deliverance had come.17
The temple was the key to the Mormon movement west.18 Its ordinances tied members to God and to each other through various sacred ordinances and their accompanying covenants of obedience, chastity, sacrifice, and consecration. Temple sealings and adoptions help create, in reality, an extended family.19 Such rituals were at the heart of the creation of the Mormon community; to see the Mormon exodus only in terms of wagons and western trails is to miss what really held us together as a people. Mormons could understand that the early Christians viewed their lives as a pilgrimage on earth. The Greek word paroikia, which literally means “sojourning in a foreign land,” came to designate the fundamental unit of the Christian community, the parish. The Mormon ward, first called that in Nauvoo as a district for voting purposes, came to function as a community in motion during the westward movement. We would not build ward houses until after settling in Utah.
The great hope at Winter Quarters was that in their journeyings they would “walk in all the ordinances of the Lord” (D&C 136:4). Knowing in 1846 that the disorganization and decomposition of the Mormon community was the greatest challenge facing him, Brigham Young testified of these matters in 1864:
What earthly power can gather a people as this people have been gathered,and hold them together as this people have been held together? It was not Joseph, it is not Brigham, nor Heber, nor any of the rest of the Twelve, nor any of the Seventies and High Priests that does this, but it is the Lord God Almighty that holds this people together, and no other power.20
The metaphor of the pilgrim and wanderer has been very strong in the more secular literature of Western culture. Consider such classics as Homer’s The Odyssey, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, or even Melville’s Moby Dick. Cervantes’ Don Quixote reminds us that we can easily identify with a wandering quest for a better life.21
The image of the pilgrim is strong in LDS thought. Several hymns in our first hymnbook (1835) used the metaphor (see hymn no. 3, for example). Parley P. Pratt, on November 25, 1837, wrote his wife Mary Ann from New York City: “But still I am doomed for to wander alone, A stranger, a pilgrim far, far from my friends, No more can I ponder the pleasures of home, Till worn out and weary my pilgrimage ends.”22 From Richmond, Missouri, Willard Richards’ family wrote to him in England: “We are pilgrims in a strange land, but we must not hang our harness upon the willow while our Heavenly guide gives us light to go by day and night.”23In her 1847 overland diary, Eliza R. Snow often turned to poetry to express her feelings. On one such evening she wrote, in part:
Beneath the sparkling concave
When stars in millions come
To cheer the pilgrim strangers
And bid us be at home.24
Thus when Thomas Bullock, who would be an official recorder of Brigham Young’s Camp of Israel in 1847, recorded in his journal when leaving Nauvoo in September 1846 that they had “started our pilgrimage,”25 he expressed a view common with his exiled companions.
It seems clear that the pilgrimages of the Middle Ages found their inspiration in the earlier pilgrimages of ancient Israel to the temple in Jerusalem. In the pilgrim literature of Western culture, the hero is usually a stranger to this life—really a wanderer between two worlds and never fully “at home” in this world.26
Time does not permit a detailed discussion of these matters or how they relate to my theme today. But people who make pilgrimages, journeys, or treks can generally be classified as one of two types: they are either a tourist or a traveler. We all begin as tourists of a sort, but the real pilgrim becomes a traveler.27Whereas this posits ideal types and therefore extremes, a side-by-side comparison is useful. Where the tourist seeks insulation from the world, the traveler seeks new worlds; tourists have surface experiences, travelers have in-depth ones; where the tourist seeks the comfortable, the familiar, the “safe” and standardized package tours, the traveler seeks the genuine and authentic experience that sharpens rather than dulls the senses; where the tourist looks for food and lodging like that at home, the traveler opens his/her world to other cultures; where the tourist seeks entertainment and a “good time” and the tour guide does all the work, the traveler understands that it is very unwise and unhealthy to only seek the comfortable world that he/she has left behind. Thus the traveler moves through both space and time, entering into the history and culture of the people being visited. But the tourist only moves through space and is only able to confirm his/her own previous opinions and worldview. For the tourist it is a “safe” experience; for the traveler it is dangerous because the travel experience opens one up to new worlds and awakens or challenges, as it were, one’s opinions and worldview. Paradoxically, such an adventure tends to make tourists experts on their experiences because they already knew what they were going to find, and it simply reminds them just how “good” they have it back home. Laman and Lemuel could never stop thinking about the “good” life back in Jerusalem. But for the traveler, such a pilgrimage is a humbling experience as it requires great empathy with all people and it surely increases our love and tolerance for other cultures and people. For the true traveler, understanding has just begun.
To travel is to open yourself up to the larger world with all of its wonder and mystery. Our prophets remind us that in mortality we are all to be travelers—that our eternal home is not here, or at least not here yet. “Man has wandered far from his Maker,” Brigham Young said (JD 9:309 [13 July 1862]). He also taught:
We cannot bear the presence of our Father now; and we are placed at a distance to prove whether we will honor these tabernacles, whether we will be obedient and prepare ourselves to live in the glory of the light, privileges, and blessings of celestial beings.28
We have been warned not to get too comfortable with the world and not to seek the way of ease and materialism. Where the tourist’s views are horizontal or focused on the surface, the traveler’s are vertical and continue to invite deeper comprehension rather than the common view of things.
There is much in this analysis that applies to us as students or Church members. Are we tourists in our studies or in our Church membership? Do we seek the safe and easy answers or the routine in our Church callings? Do our studies dull our senses or excite our minds and spirits? Are we hereto learn how to make money or have we begun our own pilgrimage with a higher vision and understanding of our mortal sojourn? From the beginning the evil one has sought to prevent us from making this journey with all of its attendant struggles and challenges. His goal is still the same, and the more comfortable we are with the world, the less likely we are to move into the wilderness of faith and pilgrimage. What will your own pioneering journey be like? It is a fundamental question for you to consider as you are experiencing some of the richest times of your own mortal journeying.
Hosea Stout, after his own journey to the Salt Lake Valley in 1848, commented in his diary:
Thus ends this long and tedious journey from the land of our enemies and I feel free and happy that I have escaped from their midst. But there is many a desolate and sandy plain to cross. Many a rugged sage bed to breakthrough. Many a hill and hollow to tug over and many a mountain and canyon to pass, and many frosty nights to endure in mid-summer.29
Stout seems to understand that his pioneering journeys were not over. He surely saw more than just physical travels ahead as he and the people sought to create a community of Saints in the western wilderness. This is clearly a part of our heritage that all members, throughout the world, can identify with. The call to discipleship consists of active verbs: ask, seek, knock, listen, serve, love. Above all, the call to discipleship is an invitation to join the pilgrimage as we, under sacred covenants, seek a better world. A common theme in the teachings of the prophets of ancient Israel was to remind their people of the covenants they had made—they had stood at the crossroads in their covenant-making ceremonies and had chosen to follow the paths of righteousness. Even in their failure, Jeremiah, a contemporary of Lehi, noted:
Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it.
and you will find rest for your souls.
[See Jeremiah 6:16 in Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible, New International Version (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 755]
As God has promised, we do not have to make the journey alone or without inspired guides. He surely was with the early Mormon pioneers, and he continues to be with us of modern Israel. With Nephi, I testify that as we make our own journey through mortality that we have the support of each other in the covenant community and a God that “will also be your light in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 17:13).
David J. Whittaker was a senior librarian at the BYU Harold B. Lee Library and an associate professor of history when this forum address was given on 15 July 1997.
1. See the excellent summary in William G. Hartley, “The Pioneer Trek: Nauvoo to Winter Quarters,” Ensign (June 1997):31–43.
2. The story of this hymn is told in Paul E. Dahl, “‘All Is Well. . .’: The Story of ‘the Hymn That Went Around the World,’” BYU Studies 21, no. 4 (fall 1981):515–27. The words are set to an Old English tune.
3. Taken from the information in the Deseret News 1997–98 Church Almanac, pp. 103, 106.
4. A useful overview is Wallace Stegner, The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964). Most recently, see William G. Hartley, “Gathering the Dispersed Nauvoo Saints, 1847–1852,” Ensign (July 1997):12–29.
5. This aspect has been examined in Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1964), pp.106–34; George S. Tate, “The Typology of the Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon,” in Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience, ed. Neal E. Lambert (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1981), pp. 245–62; and S. Kent Brown, “The Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies30, no. 3 (summer 1990):111–26.
6. Although beyond our purposes here, even a brief survey of the Enoch material in Moses 6:23–7:69 and the various sections in the Doctrine and Covenants (e.g., 57, 58, 97, 98, 105) relating to the establishment of Zion will reveal how central this notion was in early Mormonism. See also the material gathered in Roy W. Doxey, Zion in the Last Days (Salt Lake City: Olympus Publishing Company, 1965). Brigham Young taught: “And where is the land of Zion? It is wherever the finger of the Lord has pointed out for His people to gather to. That is the place to go to” (JD 12:228–29 [sermon of 17 May 1868]).
7. The basic story is told in Wilburn D. Talbot, “Zion’s Camp” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1973); Milton V. Backman, Jr., The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830–1838 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 175–200; and Roger D. Launius, Zion’s Camp: Expedition to Missouri, 1834 (Independence, Missouri: Herald Publishing House, 1984).
8. Remarks of Brigham Young, “Salt Lake High Council Record, 1869–1872,” as cited in Ronald K. Esplin, “The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841” (PhD dissertation, BYU, 1981), p.122. As Esplin suggests, many of Brigham Young’s teachings on the trek west find their parallel in Joseph Smith’s teachings on the Zion’s Camp march (see Esplin, note 88, pp.144–45).
9. See the account of Albert Perry Rockwood in Dean C. Jessee and David J. Whittaker, eds., “The Last Months of Mormonism in Missouri: The Albert Perry Rockwood Journal,” BYU Studies 28, no. 1 (winter 1988):23.
10. JD 3:210 (17 February 1856). Compare Brigham Young’s discourse of 31 August 1856, JD 4:33.
11. A suggestive essay is Eugene H. Merrill, “Pilgrimage and Procession: Motifs of Israel’s Return,” in Israel’s Apostasy and Restoration: Essays in Honor of Roland K. Harrison, ed. Avraham Gileadi (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1988), pp. 261–72.
12. See Jorge Luis Borges, “Funes, The Memorious,” in Ficciones, edited and introduced by Anthony Kerrigan (New York: Grove Press, 1962), pp. 107–15.
13. Consider the general arguments of Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977).
14. Consider the recurrence of the words remember and remembrance in the revealed sacramental prayers: D&C 20:76–79. See also Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi,Zakhor, Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1982), and Louis Midgley, “The Ways of Remembrance,” inRediscovering the Book of Mormon, eds. John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1991), pp. 168–76.
15. John A. Widtsoe, “Temple Worship,” The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 12, no. 2 (April 1921): 61. See the detailed discussion in David J. Whittaker, “A Covenant People,” in Seventh Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium: The Doctrine and Covenants (Provo: BYU College of Religious Instruction, 1979), pp. 196–216; see also abridged version,“A Covenant People: Old Testament Light on Modern Covenants,” Ensign (August 1980):36–40.
16. Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 28 September 1846, p. 5, as cited in William G. Hartley, “The Pioneer Trek: Nauvoo to Winter Quarters,” Ensign (June 1997):37.
17. Reminiscences of Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich (1885–1893), as found in Carol Cornwall Madsen, Journey to Zion: Voices from the Mormon Trail (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), pp. 173–74. Spelling has been modernized.
18. This was true for the succession and broader leadership issues following Joseph Smith’s death as well as for the community’s survival in the wilderness. See Andrew F. Ehat, “Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1982); and Ronald K. Esplin, “The Significance of Nauvoo for Latter-day Saints,” Journal of Mormon History 16 (1990):71–86. More than 5,600 Latter-day Saints received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple prior to the exodus.
19. For the doctrine of adoption and the role of sealings in early Mormonism, see Gordon Irving, “The Law of Adoption: One Phase of the Development of the Mormon Concept of Salvation, 1830–1900,” BYU Studies 14, no. 3 (spring 1974):291–314. See also Rex Eugene Cooper, Promises Made to the Fathers: Mormon Covenant Organization (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990).
20. JD 10:305 (4 June 1864). President Young taught that Satan seeks not to organize but rather “he seeks to destroy, would annihilate if he could, but only decomposes, disorganizes” (JD 1:116 [sermon of 27 February 1853]).
21. A useful introduction to this theme is Donald R. Howard, Writers and Pilgrims: Medieval Pilgrimage Narratives and Their Posterity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980). The classic study of the medieval pilgrimage is Jonathan Sumption, Pilgrimage: An Image of Mediaeval Religion (London: Faber and Faber, 1975). For a discussion of this theme in early American Puritan devotional literature, see Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe, “Puritanas Pilgrim,” chapter 3 in his The Practice of Piety: Puritan Devotional Disciplines in Seventeenth-Century New England (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1982), pp. 54–90.
22. Letter of Parley P. Pratt in Pratt Collection, Historical Department, LDS Church, Salt Lake City [this repository is hereafter cited as HDC]; in another letter to Belinda Pratt, 14 October 1846, on board a ship just off Liverpool, England, Parley wrote, “The Great Ocean is once more passed in safety by him who has long been a wandering Pilgrim.” MS in Pratt Collection, HDC.
23. Letter from his family, with this part written by a niece, Amelis, to Willard Richards, 19 July 1839. Richards Collection, HDC. Compare the letter of Elizabeth Haven Barlow to “Dear Elizabeth,” dated Quincy, Illinois, 24 February 1839: “Therefore let all who desire to live with the Saints count the cost before they set out on their pilgrimage to Zion” (in Kenneth W. Godfrey, Audrey M. Godfrey, and Jill Mulvay Derr, Women’s Voices: An Untold History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1982], p. 112).
24. She entitled the poem “A Song of the Des[e]rt” and recorded it under the date of 26 August 1847. See The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, ed. Maureen Ursenbach Beecher (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995), p. 195.
25. The Pioneer Camp of the Saints: The 1846 and 1847 Mormon Trail Journals of Thomas Bullock, ed. Will Bagley (Spokane, Washington: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1997), p. 67 (18 September 1846). Compare the general comments of Emmeline B. Wells in her diary, 27 February 1846 (ms. in Harold B. Lee Library, BYU).
26. For a worldwide perspective, see Simon Coleman and John Elsner, Pilgrimage: Past and Present in the World Religions (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995). See also the entries for “Pilgrimage” in The Encyclopedia of Religion, editor-in-chief Mircea Eliade (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 11:327–54. See also Samuel C. Chew, The Pilgrimage of Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), especially chapter 7, pp. 174–225; Victor Turner, “Pilgrimages as Social Processes,” in Turner, Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1974), pp.166–230; and Alan Morinis, “Introduction: The Territory of the Anthropology of Pilgrimage,” in Morinis, ed., Sacred Journeys: The Anthropology of Pilgrimage, Contributions to the Study of Anthropology, no. 7 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1992), pp. 1–28.
27. For my discussion here I borrow from the following works: Daniel J. Boorstin, “From Traveler to Tourist: The Lost Art of Travel,” in The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (New York: Atheneum, 1972), pp. 77–117; Paul Fussell, “Travel, Tourism, and ‘International Understanding,’” in Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays (New York: Ballantine Books, 1988), pp. 124–46; and Christian K. Zacher, Curiosity and Pilgrimage: The Literature of Discovery in Fourteenth-Century England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976).
28. JD 4:54 (sermon of 21 September 1856). For Brigham Young’s comments about “gathering” and comparing the Mormon “wandering” with that of ancient Israel, see JD 3:278–79 (sermon of 23 March 1856); 11:102–103 (sermon of 15 May 1865); 11:324–25 (sermon of10 February 1867); 13:147–48 (sermon of 11 July 1869); and 15:3–4 (sermon of 28 April 1872).
29. See entry of 24 September 1848, in On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844–1861, ed. Juanita Brooks, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press and Utah State Historical Society, 1964),1:327. Some spelling has been modernized.
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David J. Whittaker was a senior librarian at the BYU Harold B. Lee Library and an associate professor of history when this forum address was given on 15 July 1997.