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Seth M. Blair/Edward Stevenson Company

1855

Seth M. Blair

89 individuals and 38 wagons were in the company when it began its journey from the outfitting post at Mormon Grove, Kansas (Near Atchison). Blair became ill and was succeeded by Edward Stevenson.

Members of the company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley from 10-13 September 1855.

View a list of individuals known to have traveled in this company.

Sources

  • "Atchison An Outfitting Point," St. Louis Luminary, 23 June 1855, 122.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "Deaths of Missionaries," Deseret News [Weekly], 8 Aug. 1855, 173.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "Departure for the Plains," St. Louis Luminary, 26 May 1855, 106.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "From Utah and the Plains," St. Louis Luminary, 4 Aug. 1855, 147.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "Interesting from the Elders," St. Louis Luminary, 30 June 1855, 126.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "News from Our Immigration," Deseret News [Weekly], 17 Oct. 1855, 253.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "News From Utah and the Plains," St. Louis Luminary, 30 June 1855, 126.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "Our Emigration on the Plains," St. Louis Luminary, 8 Sep. 1855, 166.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "Our Immigration," Deseret News [Weekly], 8 Aug. 1855, 172.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "Riser, George C., Account of My Mission, [7-8], in Missionary reports, 1831-1900.
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "This Years Immigration," Deseret News [Weekly], 8 Aug. 1855, 173.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • "Visit of the Editor to the Camps at Atchison," The Mormon, 23 June 1855, 2.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • “3rd Company of 50 report, 1855.” In Brigham Young office emigrating companies reports 1850-1862, Reports 1853-1855. (CR 1234 5, Box 1, Folder 38)

  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • [Bassett, Charles H.], "Correspondence," St. Louis Luminary, 6 Oct. 1855, 182.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Andrus, Milo, "Correspondence," St. Louis Luminary, 1 Sep. 1855, 162.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Andrus, Milo, "Correspondence," St. Louis Luminary, 8 Sep. 1855, 166.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Andrus, Milo, "Letter from Elder Milo Andrus," St. Louis Luminary, 7 July 1855, 130.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Andrus, Milo, [Letter to editor], St. Louis Luminary, 2 June 1855, 110-11.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Ballantyne, Richard, [Letter to Erastus Snow], St. Louis Luminary, 28 July 1855, 142.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Bassett, Charles H., [Letter to James H. Hart], St. Louis Luminary, 1 Sep. 1855, 162.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Blair, Seth M., "Correspondence," St. Louis Luminary, 7 July 1855, 130.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Blair, Seth Millington, Reminiscences and journals, 1851-1868, vol. 2, 104-34.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Crowther, Thomas, Autobiographical sketch, 62-63, in Histories and biographies written by members of Camp Sunflower, Daughters of Utah Pioneers of Center Utah County, Provo, Utah, vol. 1.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Deseret News [Weekly], 12 Sep. 1855, 216.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Deseret News [Weekly], 22 Aug. 1855, 191.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Deseret News [Weekly], 22 Aug. 1855, 192.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Earl, Sylvester Henry, Autobiographical sketch, 8.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Earl, Sylvester Henry, Diary, 1852-1856, 6-8.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Edward Stevenson Emigrating Company, Journal, in Edward Stevenson, Collection, 1849-1922, reel 10, box 11, fd. 1, 1-39.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Greer, Americus Vespuccius, [Diary], in Eliza M. Wakefield, comp., A Tribute to Thomas Lacy Greer [1953], [2].
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Greer, Dickson Hamblin, Autobiography and biographical sketches [ca. 1865-1940], [2-3].
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Hindley, John and John Parson, [Letter to Erastus Snow], St. Louis Luminary, 1 Sep. 1855, 162.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Hindley, John and John Parson, [Letter to Milo Andrus], St. Louis Luminary, 8 Sep. 1855, 166.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Smith, Charles, [Letter to Erastus Snow], St. Louis Luminary, 1 Sep. 1855, 162.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Snow, Erastus, "Our Correspondence," Deseret News [Weekly], 5 Sep. 1855, 208.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Stevenson, Edward, [Letter], Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, 10 Nov. 1855, p. 716.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Stevenson, Edward, [ltr. ed.], Deseret News [Weekly], 5 Sep. 1855, 208.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Stevenson, Edward, Diary, in Edward Stevenson, Collection, 1849-1922, reel 1, fd. 2, vol. 5, 1-9.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Wright, William Brockerman, Diary, in Papers 1855-1871; 1914.
  • Trail Excerpt
  • Source Location
  • Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

Summary

"The cry of the dying and shrieks of the living presented nothing but the true scene, even all the horrors of death imaginable. The grave diggers were employed both night and day." So wrote Captain Seth M. Blair from the Little Nemehaw River, Nebraska Territory, June 24, 1855. What brought his emigrant company to this?

In 1854 authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent Blair to Texas as a missionary. He thus returned to the state where he himself had been converted. In and around Port Sullivan, Milam County, Blair baptized some 50 individuals, whom he then persuaded to journey to Utah. At Camp Jeddy, he organized his emigrants into the Snow Branch.

The party left Port Sullivan on March 9, moving slowly north so that a few stragglers could catch up. By March 25, the party was six miles north of Marlin, Falls County. The weather was dry and windy, stunting the grasses that the cattle needed for food. By April 1 the company was still only 20 miles from Marlin. That day Blair suffered an attack of severe heart palpitations. When his health continued poor, he began to contemplate leaving the train for St. Louis. April 8, as the party camped south of Waxahachie, Ellis County, Blair expressed dismay because envy, jealousy, worldliness, and loss of the Spirit had crept in among his followers. On April 13 the company was still within three miles of Dallas. Elder Blair was delaying his departure for St. Louis because rivers were low, making navigation difficult.

The company finally left Texas on April 22, crossing the Red River at Preston. Now in Indian Territory, they traveled across Choctaw and Chickasaw land. From Boggy Depot, Blair and a companion finally left for St. Louis, where they would buy "an outfit &c for our people." Left in charge of the emigrants were O. Tyler and M. C. Greer with instructions to continue on toward Independence, Missouri, along the west bank of the Grand River, crossing the Arkansas at Brady's Ferry, and the Grand at Allberty's Ford, then via Scots Mills to Independence.

Blair arrived at St. Louis on May 8. Here he not only purchased supplies for the emigrants but 15 to 20 thousand dollars' worth of merchandise for himself and a partner. Here, too, he learned that Atchison, Kansas Territory (established 1854; 1855 population under 1,000) was the new outfitting point for Mormon emigrants.

From St. Louis to Atchison, Blair traveled by steamboat, arriving June 4, and finding his Texans already there. Because cholera had recently killed people at Atchison, the Texans "speedly" prepared to cross the plains. On June 7, Apostle Erastus Snow appointed Blair as captain and presiding elder of an emigrant train that included the Texans plus some 30 English Saints. This party headed west June 15. The train included 89 people, 38 wagons, 480 oxen, 21 cows, and 40 horses. After the emigrants had traveled only 20 miles cholera began to rage among them. The afflicted suffered severe, watery diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting. They dehydrated quickly, often dying within hours. Meanwhile, the train moved on leaving graves along the way. One stricken Texan wandered away from camp, but despite a diligent search, he was never found. From the Little Nemehaw River, Captain Blair reported that within the first 24 hours of the outbreak about a dozen people died; during the first 36 hours the company buried 1 person about every 3 hours. Twenty-four individuals were still on the sick list. Before the disease ran its course, a total of 29 people died: 16 from Texas and 13 others. Meanwhile, outgoing missionaries from Salt Lake visited the camp, encouraging and blessing the members. After five days the epidemic subsided.

When the party reached the Big Nemehaw River, many of the survivors renewed their covenants through re-baptism and Captain Blair, still suffering from ill health, sent to Atchison for help. On June 25, when the company was at Oak Point (60 miles from Atchison), Elder Edward Stevenson (a returning missionary from Gibralter), arrived with instructions to assume leadership of the train. With him were 5 other brethren. Blair received them with gladness and pledged to sustain the new captain. The next day cholera attacked Stevenson, but he "took a dose of oil, and through the blessing of the priesthood" soon recovered.

The emigrants' health improved, but soon they had to deal with an outbreak of measles-then more bad news. While the party was camped near the head of Little Blue River (July 3rd), it learned that Indians had recently attacked earlier trains. On July 8 the emigrants stopped at Fort Kearney. The next day they caught up with the train led by John Hindley, and the two parties considered uniting for protection (as suggested in a letter from Elder Erastus Snow), but in the end the Stevenson group decided to go on alone. On July 15 Stevenson's train camped at Cottonwood Springs and remained there for three days while the captain went back along the trail to retrieve a coat he had left behind. Travelers grumbled about the delay. At Plumb Creek, 30 miles above Fort Kearny (July 11), Seth Blair took passage on a passing mail coach (he arrived in Salt Lake City on August 3). Meanwhile, the company crossed the South Platte without incident. At USA Hollow (July 24-25) they re-shod their oxen. The animals were beginning to fail as grass had been scarce and sandy roads wore the beasts down. By traveling hard, the party arrived at Fort Laramie July 31. There, a wagon ran over (but did not break) a little girl's leg. Ten miles further along, Captain Stevenson bought 10 yoke of fresh oxen from a trading post. The The train traversed the Black Hills and, on August 12, crossed the Platte River (North Platte) for the last time. Fears about Indian attack had been unfounded; Stevenson wrote that while the company had fed a few Sioux, there had been no trouble.

Somewhere along the trail a team had stampeded, overturning a buggy and damaging it so badly that it had to be abandoned. The train took the Seminoe Cutoff (leaving the main trail about six miles beyond Ice Spring and running south of Rocky Ridge, then through the Antelope Hills, past Upper Mormon Spring). The travelers reached the Sweetwater (August 15), crossed South Pass to Pacific Spring (August 22), and arrived at Green River (August 27). There a Texan purchased an additional 20 yoke of oxen. The train was at Black's Fork on August 31.

On September 2 Captain Stevenson left the company, determined to go on ahead, but en route he met Seth Blair returning from Salt Lake with fresh foodstuffs. Stevenson decided to return to the train. Dissention had been rife and over time respect for the captain had dwindled. Two men had gone bear hunting against counsel. Another had not guarded the cattle well and was released from his post. Still another had asked for a release. On August 14, some of the emigrants wanted to divide the train, alleging bad management, but following a meeting where the disgruntled aired their complaints, the secessionists decided to remain under Stevenson's leadership. Finally, a trial found one of the brethren to be in open rebellion; he was cut off from the Church. (This was the third of four trials held along the trail.)

The train camped at Fort Bridger (now a Mormon outpost), and by September 5 it was at Bear River.

As the company neared the Salt Lake Valley, small groups broke away. One of these arrived in the city September 10; the rest of the company arrived on the 11th.