34. “Faith in Every Footstep”

We highly recommend that Church members become acquainted with the resources at Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel. It can be searched by the name of a pioneer company or an individual. Nearly 60,000 pioneers are listed. It contains links to company rosters, pioneer journals, newspaper articles, reminiscences, and many other documents.

BYU Studies has published many articles on the Mormon migration. Search byustudies.byu.edu for topics related to pioneers. Here are just a few that tell highlights of the Mormon pioneer story.
Special issue on the pioneer story

BYU Studies, Vol. 24, no. 3, is a special issue on the Mormon migration to Salt Lake City. It begins with a journal of Lorenzo Snow; discusses troubles with the Indians, Parley Pratt’s experiences, and choosing a trail; and recounts adventures along the way. Here are two articles selected from that issue.

Finalizing Plans for the Trek West: Deliberations at Winter Quarters 1846–1847, Richard E. Bennett, BYU Studies, Vol. 24, no. 3.
The Mormon vanguard left Nauvoo in 1846 in haste and took more than four months to cross Iowa, only to be further delayed by the call for the Mormon Battalion. With the inevitable decision to winter at the Missouri River in the Council Bluffs region, Church leaders found the time to catch their collective breath and more thoroughly prepare for the mountain trek. This article details the plans, arguments, and decisions of that winter of 1846–47. At stake was far more than mere route plans; rather, basic questions of leadership and authority were being tested.

The Great Florence Fitout of 1861, William G. Hartley, BYU Studies, Vol. 24, no. 3.
The Mormon pioneers first traveled with covered wagons. In 1856 handcarts were tried, with two large companies experiencing disaster because of late starts. By 1860, Church leaders decided that Utah wards would send drivers with covered wagons and teams of oxen east to Florence (now Omaha) to meet incoming Saints from Europe or the eastern US. This method saved time and money and provided aid for the arrivers. This article tells in detail how Jacob Gates carried out the plan to supply 4,000 Saints with the equipment they needed to make the trek to Utah.

 Winter Quarters

“‘Pleasing to the Eyes of an Exile’: The Latter-day Saint Sojourn at Winter Quarters, 1846-1848,” Jennifer L. Lund, BYU Studies, Vol. 39, no. 2
Vanguard companies in 1846 realized they would not be able to make it to the Rocky Mountains and needed to settle for the winter. This article details the story of site selection, the building of a city, farming and ferrying, and abandoning Winter Quarters in 1848.


The Mormon Trail
This map lets you zoom in on the 1,415-mile Mormon Trail from Nauvoo to Salt Lake and has notes regarding important places of the experience from 1846 to 1869. You can locate historic sites on a map of today’s cities and roads.

Voyage of the Brooklyn
This map shows the six-month voyage of The Brooklyn from New York City around South America to San Francisco in 1846.

The Iowa trail
This map shows the path of Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball’s companies across Iowa in 1846.

Behavior on the pioneer trail

Violence and Disruptive Behavior on the Difficult Trail to Utah, 1847–1868, David L. Clark, BYU Studies, Vol. 53, no. 4.
After learning that acts of violence along the westward trail were often attributed to Mormons in documents of the day, researcher David Clark sought to sample journals of Mormon pioneers to see if the charge was true. His sample shows that Mormon pioneer companies more likely experienced a much lower rate of violence than non-Mormon pioneers traveling to Oregon and California. He attributes the lower violence to pioneer camp rules of order and the Mormons’ religious motivation. The article lists examples of rules for pioneer companies.