063: Crossing the Plains; D&C and Church History 34

Faith in Every Footstep

The story of the pioneers crossing the plains has a special role in Mormon life and culture. This episode discusses this history, focusing on Winter Quarters and Brigham Young’s role. The class explores the questions of what we can learn from the pioneers, and how we can honor their authentic experiences as well as our own. Specific points of discussion include:

  • The situation in Nauvoo that led to the Exodus of February 1846.
  • Winter Quarters, Mormonism’s “second sacred grove,” or American’s “other Valley Forge.” Not originally part of Brigham Young’s plan, but due to bad weather.
  • October 1846, Winter Quarters begins and was built up quickly. Within two months, 5000 Latter-day Saints were there for the winter.
  • The Mormon Battalion (government requested 500 men to March to California in the Mexican War) made it necessary for the Saints to continue at Winter Quarters.
  • Winter Quarters divided into 22 wards, called bishops, and placed two to three hundred people in each ward.
  • Temple ordinances at Winter Quarters. Willard Richards’s octagon house used as a center place.
  • The deaths at Winter Quarters due to disease, which numbered over a thousand.
  • “This is the Place,” and the early activities in Salt Lake City. Dedicating the Temple site, and Ensign Peak as a place for temple ordinances.
  • Brigham Young’s return to Winter Quarters.
  • Reorganization of the First Presidency at Kanesville, Iowa, in December 1947.

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Class Member Reading: D&Covenants 136; 1 Nephi 2:19–20; 1 Nephi 17:13–14; Ether 1:39–42

Additional Teacher Reading: 1 Nephi 2:20; D&C 45:66; 103:11; Exodus 20:7

Cami and Alyssa join Devery for the discussion.

You can access the Assigned Reading here.


Many thanks to Devin Roth for the beautiful bumper music. Check out his arrangement of hymns and other work at DevinRothMusic!

Thanks to Nathan Jones for editing the discussion and James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for finishing up the episode around his Comic-Con schedule, and especially to Devery Anderson for taking charge of this episode.

Latest Comments

  1. LS says:

    Much of this discussion dealt with the diaries of early pioneer women, but do not seem to be included in the resources. Do you have links to “Diaries of Frontier Women” published by USU Press, “Women’s Voices: Untold History of the Latter-Day Saints,” Eliza R. Snow’s diary, Patty Session’s diary from Winter Quarters, Mary Haskin Parker Richard’s diary, the diary of Cami’s Orderville ancestor, and any other original documents referred to by the guests? Thank you!


    • Alyssa says:

      Hi, LS. I use primarily print publications for my research, rather than web resources. The book that contained excerpts from diaries that I used was Women’s Voices: An Untold History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900, edited by Kenneth Godfrey, Audrey Godfrey, and Jill Derr. I know Devery mentioned a few resources such as the USU publication, but I’m not as familiar with them. I’ll have to defer to him on that one.


      • michael says:


        I would like a link to the talk you sited about using the stories as “guiding starts and not as whips to inspire us.”


      • Michelle says:

        The quote by Janath Cannon is mentioned in Lavina Fielding Anderson’s “Dialogue” article, linked above. It can also be found in the June 1978 Ensign article “Accept Fully This Gift from the Lord,” where Sis. Cannon attributes it to Pres. Barbara B. Smith.


  2. Jared says:

    Michael, here is where I got the toddler empathy study from: http://www.ted.com/talks/alison_gopnik_what_do_babies_think.html


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