by Martha Sonntag Bradley
and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward
Winter Quarters and Westward, 1846-48
“Though there will be shiftings in time and revisions in Eternity will all be made right in the End.”
[p.143] When Joseph Smith died, he left a church splintered over who should assume the presidency and confused over various interpretations of succession plans. In the ensuing struggle, some Saints went to Texas, others left for Wisconsin, while a third group migrated to Pennsylvania. As president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and de facto church president, Brigham Young led the vast majority of Mormons to a refuge in the West none of them had ever seen.1
The plan to emigrate deep into the western wilderness had been recommended by Joseph Smith. Aware of the writings of John C. Fremont, Smith had proposed as early as February 1844 to send a small expedition to Oregon and California. Fremont’s Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842, and to Oregon and North California in the Years 1843-44 (1845) was one of the first authoritative publications detailing the geography of the American West which would be of particular benefit to Brigham Young.2 Nevertheless, three years would pass before the Mormons arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, greeting an unknown territory and uncertain future.
[p.144] For Zina, Henry, and Zebulon, there were periods of relative peace in Nauvoo until mobs fomented by economic, social, and political unrest threatened their safety. “We had a polite invitation from our Parrental government, in the shape of musket and saber with a good supply of bayonets to make it plainer understood to mozey on or in other words pick up and leave,” Zebulon later remembered.3 Although the Saints knew there was virtually no way to escape this moment, many were ill prepared for the journey.
Zina found herself in the middle of the most miserable part of the Mormons’ exodus, even though, in a heroic display of obedience to Brigham Young, Henry continued to care for her. The last several months’ entries in her journal show Zina characteristically fretting about those she loved, visiting the sick, and carrying on with daily chores— washing, spinning, “training” her son—in the midst of chaos and an increasingly dangerous political environment. For her, politics were local. What mattered most was that her family was in good health and safe. After a warm and moderate day, a “violent thunderstorm” began on 3 September 1845 shattering the glass in many of the town’s buildings. “The longest hail storm I ever saw,” she wrote. “Vines were ruined. I would think uppon the Last days.” The weather seemed to portend the impending crisis. “Herd that the enemy had burnt 2 buildings in Lima for the Bretheren [sic],” she wrote six days later.4 That same day she helped a neighbor with her wash because she was sick. On the 12th and 13th, she recorded, “herd again from Lima. The mob has burnt 7 buildings. … Herd from Lima [that] the mob are raging, burning buildings, grain, driving all before.”
Brigham Young and members of the Twelve addressed a crowd of Saints at the base of the temple on the 14th. They spoke to the multitude of “the necessity of heeding to councel [sic] mentioned the enemy, told us not to fear, put our trust in God.” According to William, it was a “solemn time.” Knowing there was little she could do, Zina placed her faith in her God. “The enemy still continues to burn and drive in the Bretheren [sic], not even giving time to save all there furniture. O God, all flesh is in thy hands. Thou canst turn there hearts even as the rivers of water are turned. In Thee do I put my trust in all things.”5
The natural impulse of men like William and Henry was to protect [p.145] their families. And Zina notes that the “Bretheren are all at the stand armed and equiped.”6 Everywhere were signs of preparations for war; violence seemed inevitable. “When I case mine eyes out, what do I beho[l]d, every brother armed, his gun uppon his shoulder to protect his family and Bretheren [sic] from the violence of the furious Mob who are now burning all that falls into their way round about the Country. Ah Liberty, thou art fled,” she mused. “When the wicked rule the people mourn.”7
The Saints learned of the preparations for their move West at the stand in the shadow of the temple. On Friday, 19 September, two cannons were fired near the temple, a signal for everyone to gather. The next day, Zina wrote, “The first thing I saw as I looked toward the Temple just as the sun was risen, a white flag, a signature to gather. A company is called for to assist a company that is out to execute the Laws of the Land to put down the mob.” Zina’s final entry marks the pace of preparations: “All things move in order in the City.”8
On 7 February 1846, only five days after her marriage to Brigham Young, Zina, Henry, and their son Zebulon left Nauvoo. Zina remembered the event sadly:
Clear and cold we left our house all we possessed in a wagon left many things standing our house unsold for most of our neighbors were as ourselves on the wing. Shall I ever forget standing on Major Russells porch seeing Thomas Grovers wagon had sunk on a sand bar. The Brethren taking the little ones from the wagon cover. The bows just peeped above the water. At the same time the bells were ringing, the Temple was on fire and we leaving our homes for the wilderness trusting God like Abriha[m]. After we had cross the river I sent back a pair of stockings to get a little thread and a few needles not knowing when we should again have the opportunity.9
According to Zebulon, “The scene that followed was enough to curdle the blood of the most hardened villain but our pursuers were demons in human shape. Children that were naked or very nigh so, and parents that did not have enough to keep them warm, as for food they had barely enough to keep their souls and bodies together.”10 Father William Huntington, his wife Lydia, and her children left on 9 February. Oliver was on a mission in Cambria, New York, and would not join them for several months. William recorded how, on their first day, a flat boat sprang a leak [p.146] and sank with thirty persons, wagons, and two yoke of oxen on board. Even more heartrending, as they stood on the banks of the river and looked back at the city, they regretfully turned away from yet another Zion to an uncertain future in the wilderness.11 Dimick and Fanny also crossed the river, a few days behind William and Lydia, but returned to Nauvoo to stay until spring. Dimick and Fanny by then had two children—Clark and Martha Zina; daughter Margaret had died in 1839, Fannie Maria in September 1842. William D., his wives Caroline and Harriet, and their children, Presendia and her son Oliver (George stayed behind with Norman) all left together. It was a prudent decision. The suffering of the Mormons crossing Iowa was intense.
Three months later spring had eased the severest torments of winter travel. Still, a reporter from the Daily Missouri Republican in St. Louis painted a graphic picture of the scene as the migration from Nauvoo continued in May 1846:
The city and country presents a very altered appearance since last fall. Then, the fields were covered with, or the barns contained, the crops of the season. Now, there are no crops, either growing or being planted. In many instances, the fences have been destroyed, houses have been deserted, and the whole aspect of the country is one of extreme desolation and desertion. At nearly every dwelling, where the owners have not sold out and moved off, preparations were making to go. Nearly every workshop in the city has been converted into a wagon maker’s shop. Even an unfinished portion of the Temple is thus used, and every mechanic appears to be employed in making, repairing or finishing wagons, or other articles necessary for the trip. Generally, they are providing themselves with light wagons, with strong, wide bodies, covered with cotton cloth— in some instances painted, but mostly white. These are to be met with in every direction, and contribute greatly to the singular and mournful appearance of the country.12
Although the Mormons did not know how long their journey would take, feared attacks by Native Americans, and, in some cases, were ill-prepared for travel, this same reporter was “struck with the lightness of heart, apparent cheerfulness, and sanguine hopes with which families bid adieu to their friends, and set on their journey.” He also noted that they sang about Oregon and “upper California,” and how they tried to [p.147] sell him their homes and farms—virtually anything—for cash, oxen, or cattle.
Sheer physical survival and the last stages of pregnancy consumed most of Zina’s attention. Rain and snow troubled them throughout their journey; and sickness, skimpy food, and inadequate equipment made each day a challenge. Zina was a small woman, not much taller than five feet, and eight and a half months pregnant. Her body must have been racked with fatigue. For her, “forsaking all for their religion” meant considerable challenge and sacrifice. Their daily travel was directed in large measure by the weather. Storms frequently made it impossible to traverse the muddy soil. Struggling to keep up without complaining, Zina would often take down her chair from the wagon and sit to eat breakfast or simply rest. George A. Smith, the captain of their party, told her to ride as long as she could and the group would stop and wait if necessary.13
On Thursday, 9 March, William wrote with despondency and frustration:
It commenced to rain with some 200 teams then scattered over the wet flat prairies for three miles. The rain increased. The roads soon became impassable. Teams are stalled in every direction. Men doubling and thribbling teams but to no effect with. Many wagons were left stalled in the mud in every direction. Many families remained on the prairie over the night without fire—with their clothing wet and cold.14
“The scene of suffering still continues,” he added the next day. “Frequent showers through the day. Gales of wind throwing down tents. … Teams were sent out on to the prairie to bring in families who had stayed over night. My team went out twice after wagons. A gale of snow at 4 oclock P.M.”15
Zina’s final weeks of pregnancy occurred during especially trying conditions. When it was time, she acknowledged “a miracle in my deliverance.”16 On 16 March, Patty Sessions and Eliza Snow called, possibly to wash and anoint Zina for a safe delivery. According to Zebulon’s recollection, “we traveled or pulled or paddled our way till we arrived on the bank of the Chariton River it was raining fearful.”17 The crossing the next day was terrifying. Zina recalled, “A rope was soon att[a]ched to the end of the wagon and about 50 men holding to it to keep it from up set-[p.148]ting and it let [us] dow[n] the bank to cross Chariton river.”18 They were about twenty miles from Nauvoo; the journey had taken six weeks.
The next day, 22 March 1846, Henry Chariton Jacobs was born at the crossing of the Chariton River. “Mother Lyman,” maternal aunt of George A. Smith, delivered the baby, who weighed, according to Zina, ten pounds.19 For Zebulon, Zina’s labor meant exile into the rain:
The next morning I was bundled up bright and early, taken out of the wagon and deposited in the forks of a scrub oak, and was told “to keep quiet or I would fall and crack my head.” Becoming restless, father called to me and said “be a good boy for a few minutes, and I shall show you something.” In a short time he came and got me. I was tired of sitting in the rain. Father took the damp shawl off me then leaned me towards the head of mother’s bed. “What do you see over there?”, “Mama,” “What else?” At that moment I heard a baby squeak. Catching sight of a little red squirming face, father was kept busy holding me. Mother said “you have got a little brother, Henry Chariton Jacobs.”20
“Mr. Jacobs … done all he could for my comfort. The wagon cover was not dry for two weeks, rain and snow visiting us.”21
Father William, unaware of Zina’s travail, recorded in his journal: “Tuesday morning. 21st. Weather cloudy. Looks like rain. The great part of the camp rolled out this morning for Grand River. Some of our men have gone to look for work to provide provisions while the wagons and my son … make an exchange of property. … My family all well.”22 Zina wished for her father’s and stepmother’s support, and wished Lydia could have helped with the delivery.
Despite her relief and joy, Zina was far from well. The high point for her was that “on the morning of the 23rd Mother Lyman gave me a cup of coffee and a biscuit. What a luxury for special remembrance!”23 Zina’s stepsister, Eliza Partridge Smith Lyman, the plural wife of Apostle Amasa Lyman, recorded this pitiful scene in her journal: “At the Chariton river we came across Henry Jacobs wagon in the mud. Zina in bed on the top of the load so near the wet cover that she could barely raise her head, a babe in her arms but a few days old and no wagon near or friend to do anything for her.”24 The wagons rolled out again the next morning. “Occasionally,” Zina recalled, “the wagon had to be stopped, that I might take [p.149] breath. Thus I journeyed on. But I did not mind the hardship of my situation, for my life had been preserved, and my babe seemed so beautiful.”25
The wagon traveled four miles in the pouring rain to a camp on Locust Creek. The night was so cold that the cattle’s hooves froze in the mud, and the men had to chip them loose the next morning. They were also delayed by swollen rivers. Those in her party showed Zina particular kindnesses. “Mother Lyman gave me a cup of coffee and a biscuit. We could not travel in line for occasionally I had to have the wagon stopped to take breath.”26 Recovering from the birthing, Zina stayed in the wagon on top of their carefully packed lives, “my oldest son with me in the wagon 4 years old and my darling babe so beautiful and good as dear ones are generally to there mothers.”27 Nevertheless, “through all the sufferings and trials of the people,” Zebulon remembered, “the spirit of the [Lord] was with them continually they could dance and sing as though nothing was the matter, they looked unto God for Protection and comfort, from him they received all the blessings which they enjoyed. God was with them and gave them peace and serenity of mind which only the righteous can enjoy.”28
Zina, baby Chariton, and Zebulon rode in the wagon during most of the journey. The men walked beside their ox teams. At night, if it was not raining, they made mattresses on piles of brush for their bedding; but if it rained, they had to pick up their blankets and retreat to cramped, uncomfortable wagons. “The wagon cover was not dry for 2 weeks rain and snow often wetting us yet [neither] the child nor myself took the least cold.”29 Many women and children had to walk as well, and Zebulon dramatically recalls them “wading through the mud and such, children crying of hunger and fatigue and the aged tottering ready to faint by the way, but not a word of complaint, such were the scenes that I witnessed till we arrived at Mount Pisga.”30
William, Lydia, and her children were still on the trail. Breaks in the weather gave them occasional reason to pause and consider the beauty of the landscape. William wrote on 13 May:
On our travels we beheld as beautiful a sight as I ever have seen of the like … that is, the most beautiful rolling prairie spread out in almost every direction as far as the eye could extend with something like one hundred [p.150] waggons strung out on the prairie for some 7 or 8 miles. The weather this afternoon is very warm … a sultry heat. Looks like showers. Clouds run low at four. Commenced to thunder in the west at 5.
It commenced to rain at 8. It rained in torrents. Wind blew a gale and continued to blow for hours. We had [hid] in my tent to get out of our beds, dress ourselves—myself, wife, John and Edward [Partridge], and hold our tent from blowing down.31
Zina’s and Henry’s wagon crawled slowly across the muddy roads of Iowa to Mount Pisgah, according to Zina’s account, reaching their destination in May 1846. Brigham Young was supervising the entire migration of over a thousand wagons; and although Zina did not always make daily diary entries, she does not mention an encounter of any kind with Brigham. At Sugar Creek, their first stop outside of Nauvoo, Zina records: “We first saw who were the brave, the good, the self sacrificing. Here we had now openly the first examples of noble-minded, virtuous women, bravely commencing to live in the newly-revealed order of celestial marriage.”32 Although she was not part of their group, she must have viewed them as role models, struggling to see a scenario of the future she would have to fit herself into. “Here,” she later remembered, “we found many dear ones some comfortably fitted up for a long journey and others sad to relate ware it not that we knew it to be the work of God we were engaged in and he would bring us off victorious.” Faith in God gave Zina strength. “Through all our hardships and toils to go where we could live our religion and keep the commands of God was our aim, and with willing hearts and hands did we labour here we saw first who of the brave and good (some more willing than others).”33
By mid-May, William and Lydia had caught up with Henry and Zina. They all camped together in Mount Pisgah where William built a double log house fourteen feet square. Brigham appointed William to preside over the Saints at Pisgah making him responsible for the distribution of resources and lots and, perhaps more importantly, caring for the destitute. According to Zina, many of the refugees suffered from near starvation and the inclement weather. “The water was affected with minerals as we took in from the springs. Sickness ensued.” Many died. “I have know[n] a Coffen commenced and so scarce the help,” she later remembered, “that 2 and 3 ware roped and buried with logs split on the [p.151] bottom of the grave and sides brush and … the best we could do before the coffen could be finished.”34
Meanwhile, Dimick, William D., and their families were preparing to follow over drier roads with fresher teams. Although the tension of trying to take enough time for adequate preparations was balanced against increasing fear of emboldened mobs, the drama in this story belongs to thirty-six-year-old Presendia. Oliver was on a mission to New York, but he recorded this version: “Presendia’s Husband would not follow the Church any longer at Nauvoo, so she left him and followed after her Lord, moving with the Saints even to the valley.”35 By that time, most of the Saints had already left. Presendia felt in physical danger if she remained behind. She was still hesitating and indecisive, however, until “as if in answer to her prayers, her brother William sent her a messenger telling her to leave all and come.”36 The call of family and church was too strong to ignore. “On the 2nd of May, 1846, she walked out of her house leaving all behind her, taking her little boy, Oliver, now six who was sick and not able to be up but she was flying for her life. With the help of her son George, she got away.”37
Presendia did not tell Norman of her plans. She apparently left her home in Lima toward dusk, “traveled all night, and reached a friend, Dr. Spurgeon, by daybreak. Took some refreshment and went into the woods with her little boy, staying all day, fasting and praying for deliverance. She says: ‘I picked flowers for him and gave him water from the running stream. At night I went back to the doctor’s, sleeping with my sick boy on a little bed on the floor. Next day I hid in a wagon.”38 According to her own account, she had reason to believe that Norman would not have allowed her to take Oliver with her:
When we arrived at Nashville, … I saw a man whom I knew, look for me. I learned afterward he intended taking my child from me. My brother, Dimick, sent his sons to see me safely out of Illinois. I stayed in a deep ravine while some things were brought to me, and slept on a buffalo robe on the ground at night with my little child. No tongue can tell my feelings in those days of trial; but I had considered well, and felt I would rather suffer and die with the Saints, than live in Babylon as I had lived before. We arrived at Bonaparte [southeastern Iowa]. The excitement and exposure brought on fever and I was very ill. We at last [on 4 June] arrived at Mount [p.152] Pisgah; there I found my father, my sister Zina, and her children. They were in a log house without chimney or floor; sickness prevailed.39
Presendia’s home was, like Zina’s, a simple log cabin with a straw and dirt roof and straw carpeting the dirt floor. She had Oliver with her but had left George with Norman, according to her father. Nevertheless, while in Winter Quarters Presendia held classes for children in her log cabin during the days. After a while she shared a home with Laura Pitkin, another of Heber C. Kimball’s wives, in a house near Vilate Kimball’s, Heber’s first wife. The two would go to Vilate’s where they would all pray together.40
The Mormon encampment at Mount Pisgah was on the middle fork of the Grand River on Indian lands. By the time Zina and Henry arrived in April, fields had been planted with potatoes, beans, corn, and other crops. At its peak, the camp had 2,000 inhabitants.
William, as president of the Mount Pisgah Branch with Charles C. Rich as his counselor, led the efforts to build a temporary community to house the Saints. That spring he built a double log house, installing Lydia and her children in half of it and Zina and Presendia in the other. Their share was a room about fourteen feet square. Ironically, they were not far from their earlier homes in Missouri. “We are here … some 70 or 80 miles from Davis [Daviess] County in Missouri or Adam-on-diah-man.”41 On 7 July, Brigham Young counted the number of wagons at Mount Pisgah: “two hundred and five wagons … which with these on the road and at headquarters [Winter Quarters] make a total of eight hundred and five wagons.”42
After seeing Zina safely camped with her father and stepmother, Henry bade her good-bye in what must have been their most difficult parting yet. On 31 May 1846 from Winter Quarters, Brigham Young had called Henry on a mission to England with Oliver Huntington, whom he would meet in New York. Reportedly, Henry was so ill that men had to “put him on a blanket and carry him to the boat to get him on his way.”43 He survived, but his shattered emotional state can be seen in a letter that captures his struggle between love for Zina and loyalty to priesthood authority. On 25 June 1846, just before sailing from New York City for Europe, he wrote, in an attempt to reassure Zina—and possibly himself:
[p.153] All we have to do is stand still and see the Salvation of God in all things whether in Life, or in death, whether in time or Eternity Zina my mind never will change from worlds without End no never the same affection is there and never can be moved. I do not murmur nor complain at the Handlings of god no veryly no. … I do not blaime any person or person no may the Lord our Father Bless Brother Brigham and … tell him for me I have no feelings against him nor never had; all is right according to the Law of Celestial Kingdom of our god and Joseph. Zina be comforted be of good cheer and the god of our fathers bless you. I know your mind has been troubled about menny things but fear not all things will work together for good for them that Love God therefore be subject to council as you have commenced and you will be saved.44
On 11 July, Oliver and Henry Jacobs met each other in Cambria, New York, at Oliver’s in-laws’ home—George Augustus and Asenath Cooley Neal. Oliver notes in his journal an emotional complication: “There were two sisters, Twins, living but a few miles away, that belonged to the church,” he wrote. “While Sister Elsy was there, she & Bro. Jacobs got deep in love & promised to marry when he came from his Mission & go west with him. But on his return she had changed her mind.”45 This episode may best be understood as a revelation of Henry’s distraught state and anxiety to create another affectionate relationship to replace Zina, who had been taken from him so abruptly, or as an episode of his possibly unstable nature.
Furthermore, by the end of August Henry was engaged to Aseneth Babcock, a woman he had met in Missouri.46 Nevertheless, he continued to write affectionate letters to Zina. Oliver and Henry left for England on 22 August and arrived there six weeks later. Oliver frequently wrote about his companion in his missionary journal, complaining at times about the way Henry tended to dominate conversations and meetings, leaving Oliver no time to speak, and also complaining about Henry’s miserliness. However, Oliver was openly affectionate and respectful of his former brother-in-law. He conspicuously does not comment on Henry’s and Zina’s tortuous marital situation, leading one to suspect that he had decided not to try to puzzle through its rightness or wrongness.
By this time, Zina considered herself part of Brigham Young’s family, a complicated network of new wives, women who had been sealed to [p.154] Joseph Smith, women who had been married to other men, and women who needed an association with a husband and a family, like the mother of Young’s first wife, Miriam. Historian Jeffery O. Johnson found that by April 1848 Young had married forty-four women and assumed responsibility for their children. In 1847 the wives ranged in age from sixteen to sixty-nine.47
In England, Henry became the president of the Clithero-Preston Branch, the largest in his mission, with Oliver as his counselor. Another letter to Zina expressed steadfast faith in God’s eventual justice:
Dear and respected companion. … I must say I have been greatly blest since I left the Camp of Israel I never felt the power of God so sensable never in my life as I have on this Mission … there is power in the priesthood yet and god lives as in the day of old … Zina I have not forgotten you my love is as ever the same … and hope it will continue to grow stronger to all Eternity worlds without End when familyes are joined together and become one consolidated in truth when the keys of the Resurrection will be restored and the fullness of the Gospel give[n, t]he Law of the Celestial Kingdom be in force and every man and woman will know there place and have to keep it though there will be shiftings in time and revisions in Eternity all be made right in the End … my kindest love to all the 12 … kiss my Little ones and tell them about there father … I am ever your well wisher.48
Although this letter does not express the thought clearly, it suggests that Henry accepted Zina’s sealing to Brigham Young, believing somehow that if they were both faithful to earthly priesthood authority, they might be reunited in the afterlife, that the lines separating one patriarchal organization from another would be erased, and that all would “be made right in the End.” At this point, it is unclear how Henry viewed their relationship. He called himself a “well wisher” instead of a husband and referred to her as “companion” rather than as wife.
On 26 June Captain James Allen of the U.S. Army, with the moral weight of Brigham’s approval behind him, arrived in Mount Pisgah to enlist a military force of Mormon men to march to California.49 When his battalion of almost 500 departed three weeks later, most of the able-bodied men went with him, including Dimick. Before they left, Zina and the other Mormons in Pisgah refurbished their few pieces of finery and [p.155] danced at the Grand Ball held in their honor. Zebulon’s version of the battalion’s enlistment was the popular view that the government was exploiting a harassed but noble and patriotic people: “The Government which had given us a vultures protection, called on our people for five Hundred men, to go to the Mexican war to fight for the country that had driven them from their homes in cold blood, the call was responded to, they rallied round the standard of our forefathers to lay down their lives if necessary.”50
Fanny went with the battalion as a “laundress,” as did thirty-three other wives and many of their children. She was three months pregnant and brought with her Clark, Lot Elisha, and Martha Zina. Fanny, Dimick, and their children were detailed to winter in Pueblo, Colorado, along with the Higgins Detachment. Fanny’s daughter, Presendia Betsy, was born there on 21 October 1846 with two Native American women in attendance. They nursed Presendia back to health and comforted her when her baby died on New Year’s Day 1847 and was buried in the same grave as Parley Hunt, eighteen-month-old toddler of Celia and Jefferson Hunt.51 It would be a year before Zina and Dimick were reunited with Dimick’s brothers and sisters.52 Dimick continued on to San Diego, California. He would not see any of his family until five months after the first pioneer party arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in mid-1847.
Meanwhile, back in Mount Pisgah during the summer and fall of 1846, the responsibility of caring for women and children increased. William D. and nineteen-year-old John joined the other men in camp, building fences, plowing fields, and planting corn,53 while Zina cared for four-year-old Zebulon and newly born Chariton. When disease and illness struck, she began nursing the sick. So many died during these months that coffins could not be built fast enough. At one point Zina ministered to ten in her small room. On 19 August Zina’s father, William, died suddenly. “Sad was my heart,” she lamented. “I alone of his own children [was there] I Mourned for them all.”54 (Presendia had already gone to Winter Quarters with Heber C. Kimball’s family.) Disoriented from the changes of her life, far from family, and wondering what would happen next, Zina came close to despair: “In the night time the falling leaves uppon the ground as I went from one to the other [of her sick housemates] to wate uppon them reminded me of the fallen dear [p.156] ones that ware worn out and gone, the grave yard was so near that I could hear the wolves howling as they visited the place so sacred to us but all alike to them in there night rambles.”55 Dimick and Fanny were with the Mormon Battalion, Oliver was in England on a mission, William D. was in St. Louis buying supplies for the trek west, and her oldest brother, Chancy, was still in New York.
Zina wrote to her siblings, describing their father’s last two weeks. “I sat up 5 nights, we watched over him the order met in a tent close by morning and evening to ask God to spare him, but it seemed that God had another calling for him.” He continued to decline each day; Zina sat with him and would not “converse with him about dying.” She fought for his life, refusing to give up as death rattled in his throat. But eventually she let go. “You can better imagine my feelings than I can tell. I felt my own loss and grief for all the rest. I alone was to watch our Father’s dying pillow, although my friends felt for me yet they have not felt his kind parental care, neither had they the disappointed hope of mine of a father to me and my children.” She carefully recorded the time of his death at fifteen minutes before eleven o’clock on Wednesday, the 19th of August 1846.56
Eliza R. Snow, when her camp stopped for a time in Pisgah, described these days as a “growling, grumbling, devlish, sickly time.”57 Nevertheless, the women of the waystation rose to meet these challenges with a resource that did not fail them—their spiritual gifts. They strengthened each other; and the miracles, both large and small, validated the sense of closeness that enabled them to bear loneliness, privation, emotional distress, and physical stress. For two days the daughter of Lyman Whitney lay seemingly lifeless in her father’s cabin. Sisters Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Vilate Kimball, and Laura Pitkin were called. They blessed the child, administered to her with oil, bathed her eyes with milk and water, and restored her with their faith to full health.58
Charles Decker, Brigham Young’s son-in-law, and others passed through Mount Pisgah in late September and offered to take Zina with them as far as Winter Quarters. She sadly left Lydia, her twice-widowed stepmother, not knowing when she would see her again. “I left Mother and family, with my two little sons. It was a lode of flour I sit on a bag of oats. I took two sacks of clothes expecting my things to come in 2 weeks. [p.157] I never received them for 6 months. … My feather bed was made up at night on the top of the barrel heads being careful to get the hip bone into the top of one barrel. My babe had a chill every day on the road and was teething and I the toothache.”59 Toward the end of the journey, they were plagued by heavy rains. Not far from Winter Quarters, the wagon became mired in mud and Decker rode off to seek extra teams. Holding Chariton in her arms, Zina waited with young Zebulon for several hours before he returned. Their only food that day was two raw turnips and potato peelings that had been reserved for the cattle.60 Zina was reluctant to eat the turnip for fear it would affect her milk and cause colic for her baby, but Zebbie told her, “Don’t worry, Mama. I’ll pray and Heavenly Father will bless the turnip.”
When the Mormons first came to Winter Quarters in what is now Nebraska, it was a temporary encampment on the west side of the Missouri River. Within months, however, 820 lots had been surveyed and before Christmas 1846 more than 700 log homes had been constructed. The Saints followed the town-building models they had used in Missouri and Illinois. Streets were laid on a grid pattern next to the river. Shops and businesses were established in the center, where blacksmith and woodworking shops, boarding houses, and dry goods stores offered a variety of services and goods. Houses varied in size and quality from substantial two-story rectangular structures to simple log cabins with no floors and only temporary roofs. In Brigham Young’s words, it was “a city of Logs and Mud, but mostly of Logs, … upwards of 700 houses in our Miniature city, [the houses] composed mostly of Logs in the body, covered with Puncheon [rough heavy boards, finished on one side] Straw and Dirt which are warm and wholesome, a few are composed of Turf, Willows, Straw, &c., which are very comfortable this Winter, but will not endure the thaws, rain, and sunshine of Spring.”61
In the spring of 1847, Winter Quarters reached the peak of its Mormon population: perhaps as many as 5,000. Even before the spring, multiple families crowded into its makeshift homes, which no doubt contributed to the outbreaks of illness. There were no meetinghouses, but, as was the custom, the Saints made a bowery, or arbor; these temporary shelters served as houses of worship, as social centers, and as locales for virtually all public gatherings. To cheer the illness-stricken Saints during [p.158] the bitter winter of 1846-47, Brigham Young urged them to dance, sing, and forget their troubles.62 And they did. Bundled in scarves, heavy coats, mittens, and knitted hats, they danced the waltz, the polka, and the quadrille on the frozen ground under the arbor.
At Winter Quarters, Zina found an emotional home for the next year and a half, a period that became the backdrop for a transition into life as a plural wife to Brigham Young. Living conditions tried the women’s patience and tested their fortitude. Nevertheless, the fruits of the Spirit were great. Here Zina became a member of the elite circle of women who would play a significant role in building the kingdom in the Great Basin. Here friendships forged between sister wives carried them through their lifetimes and enriched their days. As one of Brigham Young’s plural wives, Zina moved in among “the Girls,” as they were called, and was relieved to find the experience a positive one:
Arrived in Winter Quarters all safe was welcomed into my new home [the home of Brigham Young] lived with the President’s Family some 6 or 7 of us in a tent. Log cabins ware erected, a meeting house also had now and then a dance to cheer us, good meetings, friendly visits kind associations in this our new life, knowing we ware here because God had commanded. The sun shone in the midst of all these temporary inconveniences. Some of the Girls [wives] it was the first time they had ever left there parents, but the Pres was so kind to us all, nothing but God could have taught him and others how to be so kindly to there large Families. This order not being on the Earth for 1800 years with all our traditions like garments woven around us, some could act uppon principles with better justice than others, not all are capacitated alike in any respect.63
Despite the trying conditions of the exodus and the uncertainty of their future, the Saints settled into their temporary life at Winter Quarters. Sarah Griffith Richards, Levi Richards’s wife, in a letter to Zina many years later nostalgically remembered the spring they spent there as tranquil and normal:
While at Winter Quarters, as the Time getting on towards Spring the weather being fine; I was much and often amused, in seeing and hearing the children dogs &c, enjoying themselves shouting and laughing— among the few domestic animals to be taken on to this place, was a fine [p.159] Tom Turkey truly a magnificent fellow, his wings clipped and some of his best feathers gone, but enough left to enable him to use his wings to chase the children.
Opposite the window in the cottage where I could see a considerable distance around there were some wagons standing two or three in a row near together—The wheels being off—This was a favorite place for the never tiring game, of hide and seek,—one, of many times while I was working near the window, I heard the shouting and noise of the children; I looked out and saw, Tom, waddling at a fine pase, to the place of the wagons. He kept quiet a minute or two, then peeped out—then stepping back, then stretching his long neck, to look up over the wagons standing so tall on his feet, tip toe (we should call it)—then as the children &c came very near, almost in sight he would step back farther—at last however he was caught—Then was the fun at its utmost—He jumped out, flapped his wings and ran after the crowd, chased them until out of my sight, for that time. It was good for the children free from sickness to have such pleasant exercise.64
Mary Haskins Parker Richards, a twenty-four-year-old bride of two years, described the view from a bluff overlooking the makeshift village in July 1847: “We gazed with delight upon our City of 8 months groweth Its beauty full Gardins and extensive fields. Clothed with the fast growing Corn and Vegetables of every description, above all things pleasing to the Eyes of an Exile in the Wilderness of our affliction.”65
Zebulon, one of the healthy youngsters in camp, remembered a rare whipping from Zina for an escapade with the other young boys. Zebulon wrote sympathetically in his later reminiscence: “Poor mother could hardly stand it. I needed the thrashing I got and needed it bad, and it done me good, for it established the fact that she was Mother and I was the son, subject to her dictation from then on her wish was my law.”66 Zina was both mother and father to her sons in Henry’s absence, though they were never far from his thoughts. He wrote to Zina on 14 January 1847, twelve days after Zebulon’s fifth birthday: “Kiss my little ones and tell them about their father and send me word about Zebulon.”67
The physical demands in this temporary home were unrelenting. After the worst of the sickness was over, Zina, in addition to the household chores and tending her children, spun yarn, wove cloth, taught school, [p.160] and used wheat straw to make baskets and hats. Despite the reassuring routine, she remembered the period as unsettled and anxious:
[The future was] like a great, unknown desert, unrelieved and barren. I had only my Heavenly Father left, and I reached out in faith to the One above to open the heavens for me and aid me in my loneliness. I was in a new, wild country without means. Joseph and Henry Woodmansee wanted me to keep house for them. As soon as I was settled their father wrote for them, and I was left in charge of their house. I started a school which was a great blessing to the children. The house was built of logs and covered with dirt and straw, with a little straw upon the floor.68
Brigham Young left the settlement on 5 April 1847 to accompany the pioneer camp to the Great Basin, returning in August. His presence did not change Zina’s living arrangements.
Probably in late December, Zina wrote to her stepmother, Lydia, and stepsister Emily Partridge, who were still in Mount Pisgah. The letter hints at the kinds of women who now formed Zina’s family and circle of friends: “Sister Eliza Snow says tel them we think of you every day and sends her love to you, she has been with us [?] days[.] Eliza [Louisa] Beman, Lucy [Ann Decker,] Emiline [Free,] Harriet [Cook,] Margaret [Alley or Pierce,] and Clarry [Clarissa] Decker all send there love to you and wishes you ware here.” All seven of these women were plural wives of Brigham Young and close in age to Zina, who was within a few weeks of turning twenty-seven. Zina also asked Emily to send her things with Charles Rich, who was leaving Mount Pisgah for Winter Quarters. “I would be glad if an opertunity should [be] presented of sending a sack of clothes take them out of the barrel and put … Henres ritings and books, into the chest.”69 Emily responded a few days later: “We have tried to send your things to you, but have had no chance as yet, your cow gives milk and has for about a month.”70
Zina and the other plural wives shared their food, supplies, trials, and heartaches with each other, forming bonds that carried them through the next several decades as members of a common family. Some, including her stepsisters, were already trusted friends. Resolutely and cheerfully they strengthened themselves and each other by giving voice to their spiritual feelings, convinced they were serving a holy mission, pleasing [p.161] the Lord, and establishing a great and glorious cause by their ability to live plural marriage. The women of Winter Quarters gathered in blessing meetings and other spiritual meetings in which they spoke in tongues. Such gatherings intensified the general feeling of sisterhood among the women of Winter Quarters.71
They had great need for spiritual sustenance. Malnutrition, due to a lack of vegetables and limited amounts of other food, caused scurvy and intensified the suffering from other illnesses as winter closed in on the camp for the second year. Helen Mar Kimball Whitney remembered the desperate situation they found themselves in. “The outlook was indeed a gloomy one, and needed all the faith and hope that could be mustered to sustain us under the circumstances, for death was sweeping away its victims, and want and suffering seemed staring us in the face. … That was among the saddest chapters in my history.”72
For the first eight months she was there with her baby, Zina was sick with “chills & fever.” In times like these, her sister wives would bless her with good health. When she was well, she would attend blessing meetings in turn, with Eliza Snow, Patty Sessions, Louisa Beaman, and a Sister Chase. Patty Sessions recounted: “E. Beaman E. Partyrige [Partridge] Zina Jacobs came here laid their hands upon my head blesed me, and so did E R Snow thank the Lord.”73
Ever since Kirtland, Zina and Presendia had always enthusiastically exercised their spiritual gifts, but never with such devotion as at Winter Quarters. Some diary accounts suggest that the women met as frequently as twice or three times a week to speak in tongues, pray with and over each other, and join in inspirational singing. The uncertainty caused by the impending exodus into the West, the anxiety over the number of deaths, and their worry about men absent on missions, traveling with the pioneer camp, or accompanying the Mormon Battalion—all intensified the emotional atmosphere of the meetings. It seems clear that “the Girls” drew special solace from their associations with each other.74
Emmeline B. Wells, in her account of Presendia’s life, describes one of these meetings:
A meeting was held, at which Sister Eliza R. Snow, Zina D. Young and Elizabeth Ann Whitney were present, also Sisters Vilate and Presendia [p.162] Kimball and some others. Brother Leonard spoke in tongues in an Indian language, and prophesied of the destruction of this nation before the coming of the Savior. The power that rested upon him was so great as to produce such an intense sympathy with those in the room, that they were all wonderfully affected. Sister Eliza R. Snow walked the floor to keep her breath. … Sister Eliza Snow spoke afterwards in the pure language of Adam, with great power, and the interpretation was given.75
According to Emmeline B. Wells. Zina was
largely endowed with spirituality which qualifies her admirably as an active worker in such a capacity. She has perhaps as perfect a gift of interpretation of tongues as any person in the Church, for although her opportunities for education in language has been limited, and she is not a poet or rhymer, yet she gives the interpretation of hymns, psalms, and sacred songs in the most musical and happy manner, without thought or hesitation. There is something divinely beautiful in thus rendering, by the gift of inspiration, words uttered in an unknown tongue.76
Sarah G. Richards reminded Zina in a letter written in 1889 of a special experience they had shared in Winter Quarters:
So I went in and sat down. There were about a dozen or 15 [children] sitting there, and two or three grown persons. Joseph Young, Senr. was one … and Ellen Rockwood and her mother. I had heard of meetings all the time here and there, but had not yet been to any. But this little assembly seemed strange to me, so quiet and orderly—no books &c—Soon however I saw one of the little boys (there were none over 14 years old as far as I could judge …) rose from his seat and went to another who sat in his place; put his hands on his head and began to say something to him in the usual childish way and Language in English—then he turned off and spoke in tongues a few minutes then went to his seat. Then the only interpreter present Ellen Rockwood gave the little speech in English. Then another arose and performed in the same manner, and the interpretation was given by Ellen. The speaking went on from one to another until Ellen was quite tired not being strong in health at this time. One of the little boys went over and put his hands on the head of Brother Joseph Young, Senr and he was so much moved with the action even before the interpretation was given that the tears coursed each other down his cheeks bedewing his venerable beard. … Then came my turn. The little boy began, “I [p.163] do not know who you are or your name,” then he as with the others began in tongues then placed his hands on the little boy in my lap who kept quiet a few minutes, but not liking the hands and strange voice so near began to cry. But the words said to him was also Prophetic. The language those children spoke was sublime and beautifully strong in the utterance. Sister Ellen Rockwood being considered the most correct and truthful interpreter became quite tired so as to give up; then after some singing I think, the meeting was closed. … I ought to have said that as the children continued one after another to speak, the Spirit so truly descended upon all that I cannot describe the sensation. When I reflected on the strange to me, outpouring of the Spirit of the Living God, at this time, I could not but think of that passage in Exodus “Horns came out of His Hands and there was the hiding of His powers”. These children were like all others until they placed their Hands on the head of someone of the living spirits in bodies, like their own. This to me was the power in the Priesthood.77
Paralleling these experiences with the divine were encounters with evil. One night after a blessing meeting, Zina spent the night at Presendia’s cabin. During the night both sisters felt “the presence of the destroyer at the door, the feeling,” Presendia said, “was beyond expression.”78 The next morning they were called to William Pitt’s house where his daughter “died in a few minutes on my lap.” Presendia attributed the death to evil spirits. On another occasion, the sisters attended a meeting at the house of two of Presendia’s sister wives, Christine and Frances Kimball. Many in the room saw evil spirits and “they [evil spirits] tried to destroy those in the room by choking them.”79 Presendia and Laura [Pitkin] Kimball laid their hands upon the heads of five of the most distraught women and “rebuked the destroyer in the name of Jesus.”80
At another meeting, according to Emmeline B. Wells, the women felt the presence of evil spirits and sent for Bishop Newel K. Whitney to exorcise the spirits from the room.
Those who had been most affected with this mysterious power sank down unable to rise and seemingly plunged into excessive grief. … Bishop Whitney in speaking of it afterwards said that the sisters were so near the administration of angels that the devil stepped in to hinder the blessings the Lord was willing to pour out upon his handmaidens. There were not many brethren left and the sisters had to assist in many ways, both temporal and [p.164] spiritual. It was a time of loneliness, a time of scarcity, but it was also a time never to be forgotten on account of the nearness to the Lord in which the people lived and trusted.81
While it comforted the women to believe that these tribulations were due to the malevolence of evil spirits jealous of their purity and blessings, it is more likely that these women were experiencing a group phenomenon of extraordinary emotional intensity rooted in privation, the anxiety of waiting, isolation from the support network of a traditional family, the comparative absence of men, and a preoccupation with “spirits,” whether good or evil. It is not surprising that one way they measured the goodness of the “good” manifestations was the intensity of “evil” manifestations. Thus if Satan opposed their efforts so vehemently, it “proved” the value of those efforts to God.
While this explanation might be attractive to a more psychologically sophisticated century, the women of Winter Quarters accepted the reality of both angelic and evil spirits, seeing themselves consequently with heroic parts to play in the cosmic battle between good and evil. Presendia would later remember how thankful she was for the manifestations of the Spirit that she received at Winter Quarters. For her, these experiences reassured her of the reality of the spirit world and validated the rightness of her choice to leave her husband and son to ally herself with the Saints. Furthermore, as her biographer noted, “When sorrows of various kinds had pressed heavily, and her cup seemed to be running over with bitterness, she could recall to mind what had been shown her in vision, and the promises made to her if she proved faithful and true.”82 Presendia later provided a valuable insight into this activity when she remarked “that she was never so thankful for anything in her life as for the manifestation she received in those trying times as at Winter Quarters; for it had kept her from yielding to temptations, to doubt and murmur, and had supported and given her courage in the darkest hours of her lonely widowhood.”83
Female networks were typical of the nineteenth century, but the interconnectedness being established between Mormon sister wives was not. In this newly ordered female world, women’s affective and domestic roles were redefined by their ecclesiastical leaders. The resulting system of care giving, spiritual activity, and sustenance sharing joined the [p.165] women in new and powerful ways. Carroll Smith-Rosenberg’s study of female relationships during the Victorian era suggests that the “biological realities” constituting women’s rites of passage—pregnancies, childbirth, nursing, and menopause—“bound women together in physical and emotional intimacy.” These markers on the woman’s life course created a “specifically female world, … a world built around a generic and unself-conscious pattern of single-sex or homosocial networks.”84
The bonds Zina felt with Eliza R. Snow, Louisa Beaman, the Partridge sisters, and others were already strong. Their shared spiritual experiences created another element of intimacy. The consciousness of living a higher law (polygamy) that brought them honor within their small group, but exposed them to scorn in the larger society, was a third element drawing them together. Furthermore, the confidences of young brides about adjustment to the physical and emotional intimacies of marriage, their hopes for children, and the realities of pregnancies provided a strong element of traditional female connections. Smith-Rosenberg also describes how social rituals help define the female world, including the “institution of visiting,” which was frequently integrated with the daily necessities of preparing food and clothing, ministering to the sick, and preparing the dead for burial.85
However, overarching both the new and the traditional bonds was the reality that they were creating a new social order by being the first to share husbands yet remain saintly, spiritual, free of selfishness or jealousy. Familial bonds first explored in Nauvoo, then at Winter Quarters, posed new challenges at every turn and reshaped their relationships constantly. It is natural that they would keenly feel the combined honor/responsibility, finding in their shared intimacy the strongest guarantee that they were worthy of this calling. These women drew strength from each other as they struggled to survive in the wilderness,86 and recorded the growing affection they felt for one another. A typical diary entry is Eliza R. Snow’s: “Friday, Jan. 1, 1847. This morning take leave of the female family and visit sis Sessions with Loisa [Beaman] and Zina very pleasantly. Last evening we had a very interesting time to close my five-day visit with the girls [wives], for whom my love seem’d to increase with every day’s acquaintance.”87
Familial identity is usually defined and understood in terms of bio-[p.166]logical relationships, or contiguous residency. In Winter Quarters, Zina danced alongside her new sister wives in a new design. They defined what it meant to be a plural family, to be a polygamous wife or child. Their efforts at family making became how they defined themselves as Saints. This is what distinguished them from the world outside, a new boundary between us and them. There was no rule book to consult. Instead, they turned inward and referred to what they understood about scripture. Kindness, patience, sacrifice became baseline values in their attempt to make plurality work. Visiting, shared spiritual intimacy, standing together during birthings or death created family networks—a new world defined in part by the demands of plurality.
Zina only hints at the psychological process by which she gradually detached herself emotionally from Henry Jacobs, her husband of almost seven years and the father of her two children. The task must have been made more difficult by her memories of Joseph Smith, which were almost certainly overlaid with the reverence and glamour of his martyrdom. She records no conversations or meetings with Brigham Young during the entire winter as he busied himself with administrative and leadership responsibilities. Thus, except for public meetings, she had little upon which to reattach her emotional interest to him. Worse, Henry himself was in Winter Quarters with a new wife.
Zina does not mention writing to or receiving letters from Henry during his mission in England with her younger brother, Oliver. But Oliver often wrote to both sisters. They had left England in early July 1847 and arrived in New York on 12 August where they stayed with relatives. A letter Zina had written to Oliver’s wife, Mary Neal Huntington, fell into their hands. Although this letter no longer exists, its contents must have been upsetting, for Oliver quickly wrote to Zina two weeks later: “Henry is here and heard the letter. He sayes all is right, he don[’]t care. He stands alone as yet. I have had allmoste as much trial about you as he has. I have had to hear feel and suffer everything he has—If you only knew my troubles you’d pitty me.”88 These few sentences reveal volumes about the anguished conflict that Zina’s Nauvoo marriages had imposed on her first husband, her loving brother, and, presumably, her as well.
Henry stayed in the East for the next several weeks and, as before, looked for another wife. Earlier he had met Aseneth Babcock, a thirty-[p.167]year-old widow with a five-year-old son coincidentally named Zebulon. They married in January 1848, and reached Winter Quarters in November. Aseneth was Henry’s age.89 Zina and Henry must have met each other, if only to confirm the decisions they had already accepted. But neither left any record, nor is there any indication of whether Zina and Aseneth met nor what Aseneth thought of this strange arrangement. Technically, since Henry’s and Zina’s marriage had been dissolved only by priesthood fiat and not by any civil action, Aseneth was Henry’s plural wife.
The winter of 1847-48, with its intense spirituality, its difficult emotional tasks, and its physical privations, ended at last. The following spring held the promise of a new beginning for Zina and her two sons. All of Winter Quarters was astir with hope as the “Big Company” of 426 wagons prepared to depart as soon as the grass grew. At Brigham Young’s request, Oliver was to bring Zina to the Salt Lake Valley. A large company was preparing to leave in late May. Oliver had met Brigham on the street while visiting friends in Winter Quarters. Brigham asked if he had any “calculations” to go over the mountains. Oliver replied, “I do not know as I have any particular calculations. [W]hat is on your mind?” Brigham said, “That you drive Zina’s team over, and come back with a team for others. I intend to send back as many teams as I can.” Oliver agreed. Heber C. Kimball took Oliver’s trunk in one of his wagons which was filled in part with Presendia’s things.90
The large train was split into two. Heber C. Kimball led the first half, which departed on 6 May 1848, and Brigham Young the second half, which left on 26 May. Presendia, with eight-year-old Oliver and three-year-old John Hiram, traveled in the Kimball company. She was thirty-seven years old and two months pregnant with Presendia Celestia, her daughter by Heber C. Kimball. The two groups were within easy reach of each other. Oliver wrote in his diary in July: “Went back to Hebers Camp and had a good visite with Presendia and Heber. [She] drove her own team part of the way though in delicate health [morning sickness], and sometimes unable to sit up … but she … was happy in feeling that she was about to reach a place of refuge.”91
Zina was twenty-seven, Zebulon six, and little Henry Chariton fourteen months old. She was in pain from an ulcerated tooth when they left, [p.168] but recalled the rest of the journey as a pleasant adventure. “Many ware the peculiar incidents that occurred on our journey a cross the planes, toils and hardships cooking with buffalow-chips, stampedes occasionally laying a loved one by the way side, every sabath we had meetings much good instruction was imparted to the saints … many pleasent chats while walking.”92 Brother Oliver made note of the prairie dogs, buffalo, and the wonder of the Rocky Mountains. On 9 July he wryly wrote, as the night watchman called out the hour, “Eleven o’clock—all is well and Gate’s is quarreling with his wife like hell.”93
Henry was a captain of one of the groups. The fact that he was given supervisory responsibility indicates that Brigham still respected his work. He apparently managed the group well enough; however, John D. Lee recorded that some complained Henry would not follow directions, used crude language, and “said that no man must use Tyrany about him or he would tell him of it. Even Brigham Young shant Tyranise over him.” Furthermore, according to Lee’s diary, Jacobs “wished to dictate … in all moves & in fact to take the entire control of the 50.”94 Forty miles from the Salt Lake Valley, Dimick and his son, seventeen-year-old Clark, rode out to meet Oliver and Zina.
It was the beginning of Indian summer. The air was dry and warm. Wind lapped at their faces like waves on the water. The valley floor stretched west, broad and flat to the Oquirrhs that rose like a bulwark to match the Wasatch. It was a message of isolation from the world, a suitable setting for the Kingdom of God. Instead of the verdant greens of New England, the dense Midwestern forests, and the high plains, new hues met the eye—the soft gray-greens of sagebrush accented with sunflowers, granite peaks embellished by dark pines and silvery aspens, and miles of rust-colored soil.
In his memoirs, Zebulon recalled his first view of the Salt Lake Valley, sitting beside Zina on the seat of the wagon as they paused at the mouth of Emigration Canyon on 20 September 1848: “We could see the west side and the south end of the valley with the glistening Salt lake at the extreme limit of the western horizon. As we looked over here and there my mother placed her arm around me (we were setting on the seat at the front end of the wagon) while tears were trickeing [sic] down her dust covered cheeks, [and said:] there my son is our home, the place God [p.169] has prepared for his people.” As relieved as they were to finally arrive, the desert that stretched before them and the new city were unprepossessing at best. “But,” he summarized, “It was HOME and REST to the weary.”95
Zina had apprehensions of her own: “The body of one log house outside the old fort as it was called the only sign of civilization, there is no words to describe our feelings this our future home to live raze families & die as we used to say 1000 miles from any whare.”96 For Zina, coming to the Great Basin was the completion of her initiation into the church. As novelist/historian Wallace Stegner observed, “For every early Saint, crossing the Plains to Zion in the Valleys of the Mountains was not merely a journey but a rite of passage, the final, devoted, enduring act that brought one into the Kingdom.”97
2. See David E. Miller, “John C. Fremont in the Great Salt Lake Region,” The Historian, August 1948; Allen Nevins, Fremont, Pathmarker of the West (1939); Mary Lee Spence and Donald Jackson, eds., The Expeditions of John Charles Fremont (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970).
3. Zebulon Henry Jacobs, Diary, typescript, 1, Zina D. H. Young Collection. Although Jacobs titled this autobiographical account “Diary,” it is not a daily record but a reminiscence written later in life. Because of that, some dates and references are slightly off and differ with other, more reliable sources.
39. Ibid. William’s version of Presendia’s escape is: “She ran away from her husband who is a dissenter and abused his wife. She brought with her, her youngest son and left her oldest son with his father who will eventually come to the Church.” A Mr. Ferguson accompanied Presendia. “She was hid three days in the woods while her husband searched the country for her but in vain. She could not be found by him.” William Huntington, Diary, 53.
[p.171] 47. Arrington, Brigham Young, 121. See also Jeffery Ogden Johnson, “Determining and Defining ‘Wife’: The Brigham Young Households,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (Fall 1987): 57-70.
49. Brigham Young sent Elder Jesse C. Little to the eastern states in January 1846 in search of government programs that might benefit the Mormons. Congress had just declared war on Mexico and was organizing the movement of troops into the southwest territory. Little proposed that a contingent of Mormon soldiers join the effort so that the church could benefit from the salaries paid. Each man would receive an advance clothing allowance of $42 per man or $21,000 for the group. Despite the source of ready cash for the Mormons, it proved to be a mixed blessing. The departure of so many young men left women alone with children, already destitute and uncertain about how they would provide for themselves. The battalion increased to a full strength of 500 by the time it left for Fort Leavenworth on 1 August 1846. See John F. Yurtinus, “A Ram in the Thicket: A History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War” (Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1975); David E. Atkinson and A. Kent Powell, Mormon Battalion Trail Guide (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1972); W. Ray Luce, “The Mormon Battalion: A Historical Accident,” Utah Historical Quarterly 42 (Winter 1974): 27-38; Sgt. Daniel Tyler, A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War, 1846-1848 (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1996); Carl V. Larson and Shirley N. Maynes, eds., Women of the Mormon Battalion (Salt Lake City: ABC Press, 1986).
69. Zina D. Huntington, Winter Quarters, Letter to Emily Partrige [sic] in Mount Pisgah, ca. late December 1846, Winter Quarters to Mt. Pisgah, Zina D. H. Young Collection. The letter can be roughly dated from her news that Eliza Partridge Lyman’s little son had been buried. Possibly a son of Joseph Smith, whose plural wife Eliza had been, this child had died in December 1846. Eliza Partridge Lyman, Autobiography and Journal, December 6-12, in Life and Journal of Eliza Maria Partridge Lyman (Salt Lake City: Historical Department, 1973): “The baby is dead and I mourn his loss. We have done the best we knew how for him, but nothing has done any good, he continued to fail from the time he was taken sick. My sister Caroline and I sat up every night with him and tried to save him from death for we could not bear to part with him, but we were powerless. The Lord took him and I will try to be reconciled and think that all is for the best. He was my greatest comfort and was nearly always in my arms. But he is gone and I cannot recall him, so I must prepare to meet him in another and I hope a happier world than this. I still have friends who are dear to me, if I had not I should wish to bid this world farewell, for it is full of disappointments and sorrow. But I believe that there is a power that watches over us and does all things right. He was buried on the west side of the Missouri on the second ridge back, the eleventh grave on the second row counting from right to left, the first row being farthest from the river. This will be no guide as the place cannot be found in a few years.”
71. Eliza Roxcy Snow, “Trail Diary, June 1847-September 1849,” in Beecher, Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 113-75; Patty Bartlett Sessions, Journal, 14 February, 8 March, 9 May, 3 June 1847, typescript, Utah State Historical Society.
84. Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, “The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations Between Women in Nineteenth-Century America,” in Michael Gordon, ed., The American Family in Social-Historical Perspective (New York: St. Martin’s Press), 411-35.