The Pioneer Camp of the Saints
The 1846 and 1847 Mormon Trail Journals of Thomas Bullock
Kingdom in the West: The Mormons and the American Frontier Series
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
396 Pages | 6 x 9 | 9 b&w illus., 1 map
The official journal of the Brigham Young pioneer company is made available for the first time in this book. The arrival of Latter-day Saints in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake is one of the major events in the history of the LDS church and the West. Thomas Bullock, the author of this account, was the official journal keeper of that party of pioneers.
Bullock was the “Clerk of the Camp of Israel,” an English scribe who is perhaps more responsible than any other person for the vast documentary record of the LDS church in the the mid-nineteenth century. Though he wrote thousands of pages ultimately released under other men’s names, he remains a relatively obscure figure in Western History.
An intensely personal document, Bullock’s account rises above its status as the “official” journal. He shares his doubts, his complaints, his personal assessments of his fellow travelers throughout the pages of the journal. This remarkable record presents in detail the daily reality of a journey that has become an American legend.
From Nauvoo to Salt Lake and back to the Missouri River, Bullock’s journals from September 1846 to October 1847 paint a colorful and personal picture of both the Mormon Trail and the suffering of the poverty-stricken Saints during their struggle across Iowa in 1846. They tell the legendary tale of Brigham Young’s pioneer company–the beginning of a great exodus across the Plains and Rockies to the Great Basin Kingdom.
Life at Winter Quarters, the renowned “miracle of the Quail” at the Poor Camp on the Mississippi River, detailed accounts of buffalo hunts, dances and celebrations, and other trail events are recorded.
Jim Bridger’s famous meeting with Brigham Young and other leaders of the pioneer party was described in detail by Bullock. Bridger’s comments on the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, the Indians, agriculture and the West in general show the breadth of knowledge of mountain men like Bridger. The interview also gives evidence of the unanswered questions still plaguing the Saints as they neared their destination.
With maps, illustrations, bibliography and index, this work is a major contribution to the history of overland migration, the LDS church, and the wider West. The book provides insight into the impressions of a devout European immigrant of the great American West. An appendix containing biographical data on Mormon pioneers is included.