William Clayton's Journal : A Daily Record of the Journal of the Original Company of 'Mormon' Pioneers from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake
Salt Lake City
Clayton Family Association
February 8, 1846 to October 21, 1847. Clayton describes the Saints preparations to leave Nauvoo and cross the Mississippi. He records the organization of the Saints into companies and provides the camp rules. Early on, many entries focus on weather and provisions. Clayton composes a song, Come, Come Ye Saints, to celebrate the safe delivery of his wife, Diantha. He writes about the decision to sell the Nauvoo Temple, including why the decision was made and by whom. Clayton mentions the arrest of Orrin Porter Rockwell for the assassination attempt on Lilburn Boggs. He complains about Aaron Johnsons conduct and being treated as a slave by other members of the company. Clayton records a temple assembly in a guarded tent on the Plains between Mt. Pisgah and Council Bluffs, listing all of the participants. The train encounters some Pottawattamie Indians, whom Clayton describes in detail. He returns to Mt. Pisgah for Diantha and baby. En route, he meets the government agents sent to recruit the Mormon Battalion. He returns to the main camp where he writes of the sudden appearance of Orrin Porter Rockwell in camp, who brings word that a band of Missourians have warrants for the Twelve. Rockwell is followed by Daniel H. Wells and Alpheus Cutler, who give an account of the Battle of Nauvoo. The diary skips his arrival in Winter Quarters. When Clayton resumes his diary, he is keeping account books for the general store. As Brigham Young organizes the company to leave Winter Quarters, Clayton writes the company divisions, captain, the names of all in the company, and the camp rules. He also theorizes about a roadometer [odometer], which is later built. He provides detailed descriptions of the Sioux and Pawnee, particularly the latter. Clayton also describes buffalo, prairie dogs, and other new fauna and flora. He takes down a lecture by Brigham Young harshly condemning excessive hunting and the wasting of meat. Clayton also records a later, much lengthier sermon by Brigham Young on the camps behavior, as well as supporting sermons by several members of the Twelve. He notes daily tasks such as correcting a map for Willard Richards and keeping Heber C. Kimballs diary. From Fort Laramie on, he notes frequent interactions between the camp and other wagon trains. Clayton devotes some space to describing the Platte River Crossing. There are several accidents, and after successfully learning how to cross, several men are left behind to earn money ferrying other emigrants. Clayton details a one-sided rivalry that develops between the company a group of Missourians going to Oregon. Clayton provides in great detail news about Utah from mountain men, including Jim Bridger and Miles Goodyear, both of whom the company meets along the trail. Jim Bridgers descriptions of Utah, particularly Salt Lake, Utah, and Bear River Valleys, are given special attention by Clayton. As the company enters Echo Canyon, Clayton describes the difficulty of the mountain passes and the severity of Brigham Youngs case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. He privately views the Salt Lake valley before the rest of the camp, describing himself as happily disappointed. Clayton moves into the valley, and provides the names of those chosen for exploration and the assigned area of each. He is present for the Ensign Peak scene. He records the organization of city and the laws by Brigham Young. Clayton also writes of the return of the Mormon Battalion. He takes down a number of discourses by G.A. Smith, Orson Pratt, and Heber C. Kimball on colonizing and Indians; as well as a special sermon by Brigham Young on why the mens families had to be left behind. He receives three lots in Salt Lake City, before beginning the return trip to Winter Quarters. Clayton meets many of the Mormon pioneer companies along the way. He describes a worrisome encounter with a large group of Indians feared to be hostile. In the remaining entries, he levels accusations of hoarding against John Pack, notes the division of the company, and quarreling over provisions. Troubles with Indians, including Sioux, also plague the group. In the final entry, Clayton arrives in Winter Quarters and summarizes his experiences crossing the Plains.