Skip to Main Content

19th Century Latter-day Saint Movements & Western Manuscripts: Western Exodus and Mormon Trail (1846-1869)

Guide to the 19th Century Latter-day Saint Movements & Western Manuscripts Collection at L. Tom Perry Special Collections

Collections on Western Exodus and Mormon Trail Experience (1846-1869)

The following are selections of manuscript collections located in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections containing information related to the western migration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo to the Inter-Mountain West from 1846 to the coming of the railroad in 1869.  For additional collections related to this era, contact Ryan Lee, curator of 19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts.

  • William Huntington diary and autobiography, 1784-1846 (Vault MSS 272): Handwritten diary including a retrospective account of Huntington's life. Huntington writes about his early life, his conversion to the Mormon Church, and his experience as a Mormon in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. He also writes about the death of Joseph Smith, the first president of the Mormon Church, service in the Nauvoo Legion militia organization, and preparations of the Mormons to migrate to the mountains. Huntington made diary entries in 1846. The item was transcribed by O. B. Huntington.
  • Jacob Peart letters and diaries, 1801-1874 (MSS 3814): Contains the typed and transcribed work of Dorothy Jane Larson Bryson, as well as copies of the original diaries of Jacob Peart. Also includes photographs of various people related to the diaries. Jacob Peart (1801-1874) was a Mormon immigrant from England. His family immigrated to Nauvoo in the spring of 1841, and soon after his wife and three daughters died. He married Phoebe Robson Thompson in 1842. After missing the first Mormon company to leave Nauvoo, he left the city in 1846. He traveled back and forth between Council Bluffs and St. Joseph until 1848 when his company left for the Great Salt Lake.
  • David Pettigrew autobiography and diary, 1840-1861 (MSS 473): Photocopy of a handwritten autobiography and diary with a typescript of the item. Pettigrew (apparently also spelled Pettegrew) started his autobiography in 1840. His diary is sporatic and has many gaps. Pettigrew writes about his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1832, his life in Missouri during the persecutions of Mormons there, his experiences in Nauvoo, Illinois, his work as an LDS missionary, his participation in the migration of Mormons from Nauvoo, his service in the Mormon Battalion from 1846 to 1847, his coming to Utah in 1847, and his subsequent life in Salt Lake City, Utah. Also included are copies of patriarchal blessings of family members.
  • Milo Andrus journals, 1840-1861 (MSS SC 1499): Photocopies of typewritten journals and genealogy of Milo Andrus who was a missionary for the Mormon Church in the 19th century. A photocopy of a typed transcript of a letter addressed to Brigham Young by Andrus (1854) in which he gives an account of the Mormons in St. Louis, Missouri. Also included is a photocopy of a biography of Milo Andrus by Gary L. Pickell (1979). Andrus' diaries tell of experiences while a missionary in England during 1849, of crossing the plains from Nebraska Territory to Utah in 1861, and of the hardships he and other Mormons endured connected with travel at that time.
  • Samuel Hollister Rogers diary, volume 1, 1841-1855 (MSS 1134): Volume includes an autobiographical sketch for Rogers, from his birth in 1819 to life in Kirtland, Ohio and Nauvoo, Illinois, as an early member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Includes copies of patriarchal blessings for Rogers and some of his family members, including his parents, received in Kirtland and Nauvoo. More frequent entries start in 1843, during Rogers' mission to New Jersey from April 1843 to December 1844. Includes details about the exodus from Nauvoo to Utah from 1846 to 1847. Central to Rogers' diary is his experience in the Mormon Battalion from July 1846 to July 1847. Ends with Rogers in Parowan, Utah. Dated 1841-1855.
  • Neibaur family papers, 1841-1972 (MSS 438): Contains typed copies of a diary, biographies, autobiographies, and miscellaneous items. Neibaur kept his diary from 1841 to 1861. This typescript is 60 pages long, and there are many gaps in the record. Neibaur writes about leaving England for the United States. He lived in Nauvoo, Illinois, and later migrated to Utah in 1847 where he lived in Salt Lake City. Neibaur writes about his experiences with the presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Also included are biographies and autobiographies of other members of the Neibaur family including Hyrum Smith Neibaur and Sarah Ellen Neibaur O'Driscoll.
  • James Whittaker diaries, 1842-1880 (MSS SC 2582): Photocopies of handwritten diaries, newspaper clippings, and a biography. Some of the diaries were kept in the pitman form of shorthand. Whittaker made two journeys from England to the United States, once in 1842 and again in 1851. He kept diaries of these trips and of crossing the continent to Utah in 1851. Also included is a biography of Whittaker by Charlotte Chatterly Perkins Jones.  A photocopy of Whittaker's diary, kept from January 1851 to July 1852, is available in MSS 7440. During this time period, Whittaker and his family traveled from Lancashire, England to Utah. As such, this journal catalogs Whittaker's experience as an immigrant to the United States. After the arrival of the Whittaker family in New Orleans, the family traveled by land and boat to Utah. In his journal, Whittaker keeps a brief itinerary of his family's travels.
  • Robert Lang Campbell journal, ca. 1843-1848 (Vault MSS 496): The collection contains Campbell's original handwritten journal where he describes his missionary experiences in Scotland; emigration to Nauvoo, Illinois; experiences traveling to Utah as a Mormon pioneer; and duties as a Mormon Church leader. Dated 1843-1848. Robert married Joan Scobe, his sweetheart from Scotland, in November 1845, with the sealing performed one year later. Due to an illness, Robert and Joan had to delay their exit from Nauvoo and were witness to the Battle of Nauvoo in September 1846. Robert and Joan left Nauvoo with other Saints in September 1846, traveling to Winter Quarters in October; where, sadly, Joan delivered a stillborn baby boy, then died herself.  Digitized copy of the journal is available here.
  • Allen Joseph Stout journal, 1845-1889 (MSS 5900): Materials include a photocopy of a typescript of a journal kept by Allen Joseph Stout. Included in his writings are descriptions of the Mormon exodus west, conditions of the Mormons in Iowa, news of the fall of Nauvoo, his life and conditions at Winter Quarters, Nebraska, and his journey across the plains in 1851.
  • Brigham Young letter to Harriet Elizabeth Cook Campbell Young, 1846 March 25 (Vault MSS 64): Handwritten and signed letter dated 25 March 1846 and addressed to Harriet Cook Young, one of Brigham Young's wives. Brigham Young writes about the prospects of the Mormons migrating to the West.
  • Brigham Young letters to Harriet Elizabeth Cook Campbell Young, 1846 (MSS 576): Photographs of handwritten letters addressed to "Hariot Cook," "my dear wife." The items were written when Young was in Iowa moving west as leader of the Mormons. Young urges Cook, who was still in Nauvoo, Illinois, to join him in Iowa.
  • Jacob Kemp Butterfield letter, 1846 (MSS SC 1385): Photocopy and typescript of a handwritten letter written while on the march with the Mormon Battalion. The item is addressed to Butterfield's mother and gives particulars about the Mormon pioneer trek to the west as well as the Mormon Battalion's mission and activities. Butterfield explains his Mormon faith to his mother.
  • Eliza R. Snow diary, 1846-1849 (MSS SC 3239): Photocopy of a microfilm copy of a handwritten diary. Snow writes about her life in Nauvoo, Illinois, and her migration across Iowa to Council Bluffs. She left Winter Quarters and arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1847. She also describes her life in that city. She also includes many of her poems.
  • Appleton Harmon correspondence and poems, 1846-1866 (Vault MSS 404): Four handwritten and signed letters and a book of handwritten poetry. Harmon sends one letter to his father, Jesse Pierce Harmon, and receives two letters from family members. These items describe some of the plans for the Mormon migration to Utah and the conditions of settlement there.
  • Remembering Winter Quarters/Council Bluffs writings of the Mormon pioneers at the Missouri River, 1998 (MSS SC 2964): Compilation by Karen and Paul Larsen, of excerpts from diaries and reminiscences of Latter-day Saints who resided in the Winter Quarters/Council Bluffs area between about 1846 and 1852. Includes writings of Job Taylor Smith, Eliza Maria Patridge Lyman, Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, Aroet Lucius Hale, Anna Clark Hale, Jane Snyder Richards, Joseph Fielding, Bathsheba Wilson Bigler Smith, Lucy Meserve Smith, Richard Ballantyne, Sarah Studevant Leavitt, Alfred Boaz Lambson, Allen Joseph Stout, Luke William Gallup, and Gibson Condie. Includes table of contents, preface, footnotes, and bibiliography.
  • Addison Everett diary, 1847 (MSS 1054): Typescript of a diary covering the time from 13 to 26 April 1847. Everett was a driver of Brigham Young's ox team. He writes about the organization of the first Mormon migrant company to come to Utah. 
  • Brigham Young letter, 1847 (MSS 1054): ALS to Mary A. Young from Brigham Young describing his journey west and his health. Photocopy.
  • Brigham Young letters, 1847 (MSS 289): Photocopy of two handwritten letters with a microfiche copy. The second of the two letters was started on the same page as the first. The items were dated 20 April and 4 May 1847. Young writes to his wife, Mary Ann Angell Young, while she was in Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Young informs Mary about his experiences while on the initial trek of Mormon pioneers to Utah.
  • John Scott diary, 1847-1856 (MSS SC 2688): Typewritten copy of a diary. Scott kept the first part of this diary in 1847 and in 1848 when preparing to migrate from Winter Quarters, Nebraska to Utah.
  • Charles Alfred Harper diary and biography, 1847-1971 (MSS 1007): Photocopy of a handwritten diary and a biography of Harper. The diary covers the dates from April 7 to August 8, 1847 when Harper came to Utah with one of the earliest Mormon pioneer companies. He worked as a wheelwright. Also included are notes of financial transactions in Holladay, Utah, in 1895.
  • History of the life of Stephen Markham, 1950 (MSS SC 1297): Photocopy of a typed history of Stephen Markham by Julina Markham Crow. The item gives an account of Stephen Markham's personal life as well as his involvement in the early history of Mormonism. This includes his close association with the Mormon Prophets, Joseph Smith (1805-1844) and Brigham Young (1801-1877), his participation with the initial Mormon pioneer company of 1847, and his involvement in the settlement of Utah.
  • Oliver Boardman Huntington diary, 1847-1848 (MSS 162, Series 1, Item 3): Diary written by Huntington between November 1847 and July 1848. The journal contains details regarding the journey of the Mormon pioneers across the Western plains. Includes references to family members such as Zina and Precendia Huntington, acquaintances from the British Mission such as Henry Bailey Jacobs, Orson Hyde, and Orson Spencer, and to Mormon figures such as Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball, Brigham Young, Cyrenius Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, W. W. Phelps, Joseph Smith III, Amasa Lyman, and William Clayton.  Digitized copy of the diary is available here.
  • Thales Hastings Haskell Pioneer-Scout-Explorer-Indian Missionary, 1847-1909 (MSS SC 386): Typewritten life sketch which discusses Haskell's journey across the Plains in 1847; his activities as a colonizer and Mormon missionary; and his dealings with Indians, settlers and other travelers.
  • Joseph Young diary and accounts, 1848-1855 (Vault MSS 23): Handwritten account book and diary. Accounts date from 1848 to 1855. Pages 67 to 104 of the diary relate Young's overland journey to Utah in 1850 by ox team. Young writes about general traveling conditions and trail landmarks, several deaths from accident and disease, encounters with Indian tribes, the condition of neighboring companies on the trail, and his duties as captain. Includes a typescript of the original.
  • William Snow autobiography, 1850 (Vault MSS 60): Handwritten autobiographical materials. Snow writes about his early life in Vermont, conversion to the Mormon Church, and missionary work. Some genealogy and patriarchal blessings are included. Snow made the overland journey by ox team from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Salt Lake City in 1850. He writes of numerous deaths from cholera, problems with company discipline, and traveling conditions. Includes a typescript of the original.
  • Appleton Milo Harmon autobiography and diary, 1850-1853 (Vault MSS 75): Handwritten diaries. Includes several pages of family genealogy. Volume 1 describes Harmon's overland journeys in 1847, 1848, 1849 and 1850. Harmon traveled from Nebraska to the Upper Platte Ferry (1847), from Nebraska to Salt Lake City (1848), from Salt Lake City to the Upper Platte Ferry (1849), and from Salt Lake City to the East Coast to serve a mission to England (1850). Harmon writes about weather, Indian encounters, and the nature of the trail. Volume 2 describes Harmon's overland journey from New Orleans to Centerville, Missouri in 1853. He was returning to Salt Lake City after serving a 3-year mission. He writes mostly about his duties as captain of one of the emigrating companies.
  • Jean Rio Griffiths Baker Pearce papers, 1780-1878 (MSS 8768): Contains digital copies of papers related to Jean (Jane) Rio Griffiths Baker Pearce. Includes marriage and other legal documents for her progenitors and children, letters, receipt for her burial plot, and her original handwritten diaries from 1851 and 1878. The 1851 diary documents Jean (Jane) Rio's journey from England to America to join the Latter-day Saints in Utah, including her trials crossing the ocean by ship and the plains. Dated 1780-1878.  A typescript of the 1851 diary can also be found in MSS 410.
  • Samuel Cotterell certificate, 1852 May 30 (Vault MSS 81): Handwritten and signed certificate dated 30 May 1852. Cotterell certifies that James Rodeback, his wife, and his family are in good standing with the Mecedonia Camp of the Mormon Church.
  • John Van Cott diaries, 1852-1862 (MSS 1035): 4 volumes of handwritten diaries with typescripts. The diaries cover the years 1852 to 1856 and 1859 to 1862. Van Cott writes about his service as president of the Scandinavian mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He lived in Copenhagen, Denmark. He also writes about helping organize the migration of Mormon pioneers by handcart in 1856 at Iowa City, Iowa.
  • Levi Savage diaries, 1852-1903 (MSS 417): Handwritten diaries. The original items are housed in two boxes while the photocopies of these materials are housed in three. There are many gaps in the entries including a sixteen-year gap from 1861 to 1877. Savage writes about his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to "Siam" (Thailand) from 1852 to 1856. He traveled to Rangoon from Salt Lake City, Utah, by way of San Francisco and Calcutta. He returned by way of Calcutta, England, and New York City. He was one of the leaders of the ill-fated Willie handcart company in 1856 and presents one of the most important and detailed accounts of that disaster. Savage lived in Toquerville, Utah, was a polygamist, and served time in prison for having more than one wife.
  • Isaac S. Miller letter to Charles Custis, 1853 May 10 (MSS 8726): Letter from "I.S.M." in Iowa to Charles Custis in Ohio apologizing for not writing on time and saying that he or she took a walk down to the Mormon encampment near their home where three thousand Mormons, mostly from England, were living while on their way to Salt Lake City. Dated May 10, 1853.
  • Jesse Bigler Martin diaries, 1853-1857 (MSS 446): Handwritten diaries with a typed copy of one volume. Martin kept diaries apparently in three volumes. The second and third volumes covering the time from 1854 to 1857 are found with the collection. A typed copy of the first diary covering the years from 1853 to 1854 is also included. Martin writes about his work as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England. He returned to the United States in 1857 and traveled by rail to Iowa City, Iowa. Martin writes in detail about preparation for the overland journey. He left Iowa City for Florence, Nebraska, where he continued the overland journey by ox team to Utah. The diary ends near Chimney Rock, Nebraska. Martin is a detailed diarist and describes traveling conditions and trail geography, his duties as captain, deaths from disease and accident, and several disputes within the company. Martin also gives a record of his expenses, the names of his family and their birth dates, and a list of addresses at the end of the diary. Photocopies of transcripts of the diaries are also included in the collection.  Access the digitized copies here.
  • Elijah Larkin diaries, 1854-1867 (MSS 175): Materials include three volumes of handwritten diaries where Larkin writes about his life in England as a policeman; his immigration to America in 1863 aboard the ship Amazon; and, the overland journey from Florence, Nebraska to Salt Lake City by ox team in the Daniel D. McArthur Company. Larkin includes a description of preparations for the trail, and wrote lengthy and detailed daily entries about the appearance and geography of the overland trail, company discipline, hunting, and births and deaths. Larkin also mentions a run-in with U.S. soldiers who demanded that the company take a different route to Salt Lake City; life in Utah; his work as Brigham Young's gatekeeper; and family relations between Larkin's plural wives, Sarah and Ruth. Dated 1854-1867.
  • Brigham Young speech, 1856 April 22 (MSS 573): Photocopy of a handwritten copy of a speech given on 22 April 1856 in Emigration Canyon near Salt Lake City, Utah. The speech was recorded by J. N. Long. Young urges immigrants to walk to Utah as much as possible because that mode of transportation was faster than by wagon. This was probably an attempt to get support for handcart immigration. He also talks about taking precautions to protect the pioneers against Indians.
  • Obtaining meat on a cold night / by John Watkins, 1888 (MSS SC 2760): Mimeographed copy of a typewritten history. Watkins migrated to Utah in 1856 with the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company. He writes of an incident during the trek with that group. On a very cold night in Wyoming, Watkins and two others found, killed, and butchered an ox.
  • Josiah Rogerson collection of handcart company sources, ca. 1856-1900 (MSS 1320): Unpublished letters, autobiographies, reminiscences, and diaries collected by Josiah Rogerson to write a book on the ill-fated Willie and Martin handcart companies of 1856. The materials also include primary source materials on other aspects of Utah and Mormon history.
  • Josiah Rogerson autobiography and certificates, 1840-1861 (MSS 3923): Collection includes a photocopy of an autobiography prepared by Josiah Rogerson, a short account of his experience in the Martin Handcart Company, citizenship papers, and two other certificates. The materials date from between 1841 and 1878.
  • William Ajax journals, 1861-1863 (MSS 1488): Contains holographs, photographs, and typescripts of journals, dated July 20 to December 27, 1861, and January 1, 1862 to December 31, 1863. The journals describe Ajax's activities as a missionary for the Mormon Church in England and Wales and include some newspaper clippings, part of which are from the Udgorn Seion, the Mormon publication in Wales. The clippings include British Mormon emigration statistics from 1841-1861. Ajax immigrated to the United States in 1862. Detailed diary entries describe the overland journey from Florence, Nebraska to Salt Lake City by ox team. Ajax comments on food, traveling conditions, and frequently mentions meeting Indians. He wrote exhaustively about a variety of aspects of the overland trail: its appearance, landmarks, and people. The journals also include an explanation of a phonographic alphabet system. Ajax writes about life in Utah and his service helping protect Brigham Young, second president of the Mormon Church.  Digitized copies of diaries are available here: Volume 1 and Volume 2.
  • James Wareham journal no. 2, 1862-1870 (MSS SC 129): Handwritten account of Wareham's mission to Missouri, leading a company of emigrants from Missouri to Utah and Wareham's life to 1870. Also includes a copy of a vision by Newman Bulkley concerning Utah and the Mormons in the 1880's.
  • Brigham Young letter, 1868 July 6 (MSS 5875): A letter written by Brigham Young in 1868 to each Captain of a Company. The letter is dated July 6, 1868 and includes important instructional information, including the importance of keeping accurate notes and records while traveling in companies.
  • Ipson family papers, 1885-1981 (MSS SC 627): Typewritten biographical sketches compiled by various family members detailing the lives of Mormon pioneers Neils P. and Georgina M. Ipson, including data on their emigration from Denmark to Salt Lake City, Utah, his other marriages, Mormon settlement at and exodus from St. Thomas, Nevada, life at Panguitch, Utah, genealogical data and a handwritten divorce claim-release by Georgina M. Ipson. Also includes a typewritten tribute to their son Jennings B. Ipson and a statement by Leonard R. Grover concerning data obtained from Jennings.
  • Samuel William Goold reminiscence and journal, 1901-1916 (MSS 2067): Tells about his parents' conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wales; his experiences during the 1850s and 1860s in the Abersychan branch of the Church in Wales; emigration to Utah in 1867, including experiences in the company of Brigham Young Jr.; and experiences while residing in St. George and Monroe in southern Utah. Several pages record LDS priesthood ordinances he performed from the 1890s to 1910s, including children's blessings; baptisms; confirmations; and the setting apart of ward members during his tenure as bishop. Also includes copies of patriarchal blessings given to him and his family by his father, Robert Franklin Goold. The reminiscence includes Samuel W. Goold's feelings about Brigham Young, placed in the narration after his mention of Young's death.