Mormon Exploration in the Lower Colorado River Area
Jackson, Richard H.
The Mormon Role in the Settlement of the West
Charles Redd Monographs in Western History, No. 9. Provo, Utah
Brigham Young University Press
'Mormon explorations into this region during the 1850s were conducted almost exclusively by the Southern Indian missionaries; and with the exception of Rufus Allen's 1855 expedition, exploration was undertaken as a secondary function to the other more pressing issues of secure freight lines, Indian conversions and alliances, defenses for the Saints, and settlements.' These missionaries were brave and dedicated men, but they were not careful and competent explorers. Changes came in the 1860s, and this paper is particularly concerned with the decisions and actions of 1864 and 1865. Various economic factors combined in 1864 so that Anson Call was called to head an exploring and settlement expedition to establish settlements (the Cotton Mission), to encourage Mormon freighting and possible Mormon migration up the Colorado. Both experiments failed. Smith uses the last few pages of the article, however, to explain that the Mormons made this venture because they believed their leaders were inspired, and those who continued to the end in trying to make the settlements work were doing it because of this faith. The historian cannot judge whether God was inspiring the leaders, but he can determine that the decisions of Brigham Young and his associates evolved with the data they received. Some was accurate and some erroneous, and much was pure speculation. Their decisions and the consequences reflect that mixture.