This first major campsite in Iowa, about seven miles inland from the Mississippi River, served an estimated 2,000 people in February 1846, including most of the Church leadership. It was known as the "Camp of Israel." The Sugar Creek camp also served as a portent of things to come. Bone-chilling cold, wind, snow and ice plagued the refugees with sickeness and death. Uncertainty about routes and destinations to the West, in addition to mounting problems with supplies and equipment, kept the advance party from departing Sugar Creek for nearly a month.
"The Camp Ground is by Sugar Creek where they have plenty of Wood and Water, a good Place for such a Purpose on the night of the 13th the Snow fell and covered the Ground and the 14th was a very Rough Day, snowing all the day long..." Read More
18 February 1846
"Our camp was made in the snow about 8 inches deep and was a rather uncomfortable introduction into camp life without tent or any shelter save it be a wagon cover made from common sheeting. Here we stayed for some time waiting the arrival of all those who could possibly supply them selves with teams" (Diary of William Bryan Pace and Biography of his father, James Pace [typescript, n.d.], Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, 9).
Helen Mar Kimball Whitney
Camplife in February  was quite a novel experience. . . . The band played every evening. I there took my first lesson in the Danish waltz. The weather was so cold that it was impossible to keep warm with exercise" (A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History, ed. Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel , 339–340).
26 February 1846
"The fact is worthy of remembrance that several thousand persons left their homes in midwinter and exposed themselves without shelter, except that afforded by a scanty supply of tents and wagon covers, to a cold which effectually made an ice bridge over the Mississippi river which at Nauvoo is more than a mile broad. We could have remained sheltered in our homes had it not been for the threats and hostile demonstrations of our enemies, who, notwithstanding their solemn agreements had thrown every obstacle in our way, not respecting either life, liberty or property, so much so, that our only means of avoiding a rupture was by starting in midwinter..." Read More