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Pioneers Camp Under Thunderstorm In the Midst of Army of Mosquitoes
Harold Schindler
Published: 07/03/1997 Category: Nation-World Page: A2

Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer , using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.

July 3, 1847

The last wagon of the Camp of Israel was rafted across the Green River just before noon, about the time thunder, lightning and wind struck with a fury. Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball rode downriver to scout out a fresh campground so as to shorten the next day's travel. They returned about noon and ordered the pioneers to move three miles and form another wagon circle. Unfortunately, William Clayton discovered, it would be in the midst of an army of mosquitoes. "There is plenty of grass for teams; it is our intention to stay until Monday," he said.

A mile from the ferry, the pioneers posted a guide board: "304 Miles from Fort Laramie." All Orson Pratt had to say was "Grass good, mosquitoes in dense swarms."

Erastus Snow was immersed in his own misery. "All being safely over the Green River, moved three miles downriver and camped for Sunday. The day we reached the Green [Wednesday], I had a violent attack of the mountain fever, and within the past week about one half the company has been attacked by the same complaint. Its first appearance is like that of a severe cold producing soreness in the flesh, and pains in the head and all parts of the body. As the fever increases the pains in the head and back become almost insufferable, but an active portion of physic accompanied by warming and stimulating drinks such as ginger and pepper tea, cayenne &c. taken freely before and after the physic, seldom fails to break it up, though it leaves the patient sore, weak and feeble. All now recovering except some fresh cases."

Willard Richards wrote a letter to Amasa Lyman and C.C. Rich with instructions for following the main company, which Thomas Bullock copied. Clayton made out a table of distances between creeks and campgrounds. And Bullock wrote a synopsis of a journal from Fort Laramie to Green River--then combined the two.

Another meeting was called in regard to sending men back as guides. It was argued that they should go in a wagon with one team, because horses for each man were too scarce to spare. Volunteers were called and five men chosen: Phineas Young, Aaron Farr, Eric Glines, George Woodward and Rodney Badger. O.P. Rockwell would stay with the main company as scout and hunter.

As Bullock settled down to copy all the letters and tables in duplicate, he remarked, "Passed a mosquito manufactory. Immense swarms of them." Norton Jacob went into a second day of suffering with the fever.

In one of the letters to C.C. Rich with the second Mormon emigration, Brigham Young offered detailed instructions on how to proceed with the wagon train. He also explained Sam Brannan's appearance on the trail and told of the California emigrants settling New Hope in the San Joaquin Valley. Then Young broke his silence on another subject. "They have 150 acres of wheat growing, besides potatoes, and so forth, expecting us to help eat it; but our destination is the Great Basin, or Salt Lake, for the present, at least, to examine the country. Brannan, we expect, will return [to California] in a few days."

At camps of the second emigration, wagons took up the lines of march this morning along the Platte River until they reached a muddy creek they dubbed "Mosquito Bend."

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