Suffering through ten days of downpour, the Camp of Israel stalled here while awaiting improved weather. Some of the first deaths on the trail occurred here. The effect of the rain on immediate travel led to the decision to cache some artillery ordnance and also allowed many who wished to return to Nauvoo for family members to do so. At least 30 men took advantage of the opportunity.
"The company, crossing the Des Moines river at Bonaparte succeeded in reaching a point of timber 20 miles above called Richardson's Point. . . . Here they were compelled to remain until the 16th. During this time it rained almost incessantly and the roads were rendered impassable, and our encampment being trod into a perfect Mortar bed by ourselves & stock was far from being a pleasant one" (Journal of Erastus Snow, 1835–1857, 6 vols., Family and church History Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [n.d.], microfilm, 3:62).
Horace K. Whitney
18 March 1846
"The weather continued showery through the day till evening when it cleared off pleasant. The corpse of Bro. Edwin Little was brought into camp and interred to-day. He was taken sick here a few days ago and conveyed into the country in order to have the advantage of skillful treatment and to be shielded from the inclemency of the weather; but notwithstanding all was done for his relief that human aid could afford he died today while in the wagon on the way to the camp. His disease was quick consumption. He appeared to be reconciled to his death, and died in the full faith of the Gospel" (Journal of Horace K. Whitney, vol. 1, 18 March 1846, Family and Church History Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, microfilm, 15–16).
Eliza R. Snow
11 March 1846
"My good friend Sister Miller brought me a slice of beautiful white light bread and butter, that would have done honor to a more convenient bakery than and out-of-door fire in the wilderness" (Extracts from Eliza R. Snow's private journal, 4 March 1846, Family and Church History Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, typescript [n.d.], microfilm, 6).
"With some 200 teams then scattered over the wet flat Pararies for three milds the rain increased the roads soon became impassable teams ware stauled in every direction men Doubling and thribling teams but to no effect with many wagons left stalled in the mud in every direction many families remained on the pararie over the night with out fire with their clothing wet and cold. . . . Spent one of the most uncomfortable nights that so many of the church ever suffered in one night rained steady all night verry cold and a high wind the ground filled with water the mud ne deep around our tents and Little or no feed one cow through fatique Laid down by the waggon on the paraie chilled and died A general sene of suffering for man and beast" (Brigham Young as quoted in Wallace Stegner, The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail , 61-62).
Journal photographs courtesy of Infobases, Inc.
Painting: Lightning Storm by Willian Henry Jackson
Courtesy Scotts Bluff National Monument