Saturday, April 22, 2017

HANNAH KNIGHT LIBBY - Part 24 - Carterville Interlude

The Grand Encampment

The first Mormon evacuees arrived in the Council Bluffs area on June 14, 1846 after a trip of 255 miles and four grueling months.  Because there was insufficient means to transport the travelers across the Missouri River, they stopped short of the river in an area that became called the Grand Encampment.  These first wagons camped close to the banks of the Missouri and as new wagon trains came they would stop just east of the last group that had arrived.  By the time the needed ferry had been built about the first of July, the Grand Encampment had grown to cover an area of nine miles east to west and three miles wide north to south.  This mass of some 10,000 people, wagons and livestock completely overwhelmed the ability of the ferry to help them to cross the river.
This large a group gathered in one location quickly became apparent that there wasn’t enough grass for the grazing animals and wood for fires and other needs quickly became scarce.  A few of the Saints were able to cross over the river but the rest were dispersed out from the Grand Encampment to between 80 and 100 smaller communities in a 30 mile radius out from the Council Bluffs area.  Carterville, some two miles north and east of the original stopping place would become one of these settlements.

Brigham Young and the rest of the leadership of the Church still had hopes of a group continuing on to the West but as the year was rapidly passing and it was already late into the travel season the decision was made to stay in this locality and wait for the following spring before crossing the Rocky Mountains.

We know that Hannah and much of her family were in the Grand Encampment by July 1.  It is doubtful that they had been dispersed prior to that day date.  It was while they were in the Grand Encampment that the long arm of the United States government reached out to the despised and displaced Mormon gathered there.

Following the 1845 annexation of Texas by the United States, tensions with Mexico grew until on April 26, 1846 fighting broke out between the U.S. and Mexico.  On May 13th war was officially declared. At this time the Mormon refugees were in the midst of crossing Iowa.  While crossing Iowa Brigham Young and the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve had petitioned President Polk seeking assistance from the Federal Government.  On June 2nd President Polk authorized Col. Stephen W. Kearney to recruit a few hundred Mormons to help in the war but to also “to conciliate them, attach them to our country, and prevent them from taking part against us.” (Polk, James K. (1929), Nevins, Allan, ed., Polk: the Diary of a President, 1845–1849, London and New York: Longmans, Green & Co., p. 109)  This was a symbiotic relationship as Church benefitted greatly from the financial benefits they received from this arrangement.  Young and the other leaders saw nothing but good coming from this arrangement.  Their enlistment would be a public relations victory for the church, demonstrating additional evidence of its loyalty to the United States. (McLynn, Frank. Wagons West: The Epic Story of America's Overland Trails. Grove Press. pp. 386–7.) As the men were given a uniform allowance at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., of US$42 each, paid in advance, for their one-year enlistment and as they were allowed to wear their civilian clothing for the march, the bulk of those funds were immediately donated to a general Church fund. These funds were used to purchase wagons, teams, and other necessities for the American exodus (Actual wages paid over the next year to the Mormon Battalion totaled nearly $30,000). ("The Pioneer Story: Pioneer Trail Map",, archived from the original on March 5, 2012.)

Mormon Battalion Ball (by C. C. A. Christensen)
So how did all of this affect the Carter family?  Hannah and the other Carters were in the area when Captain James Allen met with Brigham and the other Church leaders and put forth his proposal for 5 companies of 100 men.  Though Brigham was thrilled with this prospect as noted above, the general populace of the Grand Encampment was not.  Richard Carter, Hannah’s youngest surviving son, was one of the early volunteers as he was enrolled in Company B.  Brigham was assured by Captain Allen that the Battalion would see so battle action but would instead fill a supporting role.  Thus, Richard would not face many more dangers than the Saints as a whole endured in their travels.  As the day of mustering (July 16th) approached they held farewell dance in the Bowery at the west end of the Grand Encampment.  The Carter family probably attended with heavy hearts.  On the 16th Richard said his good-byes and marched off to his destiny.

Twenty members of the Mormon Battalion died during the march.  All died from diseases or accidents -  as the Battalion never had to engage in any military actions.  The 2000 mile trek from Council Bluffs to San Diego was arduous and three different sick detachments were sent back to Pueblo, Colorado and then back to Council Bluffs.  Richard was a member of Lieutenant Willis's Pueblo detachment. He died 25 Nov 1846 as the detachment was traveling north along the Rio Grande.  No grave marker memorializes his last resting space though it is reported he was buried at Puerbelo, fur miles south of Socow, New Mexico along the Rio Grande.  Hannah’s heart must have been broken when the word made it back to Iowa that her son had died.  He left a wife, Hannah, and two young children.  Tragedy would strike this family again in Winter Quarters when Hannah died of smallpox sometime in 1851.  The children were cared for by Eliza Ann Carter Snow’s family and made it to Utah with the wagon trains of 1851.

The Carters were dispersed from the Grand Encampment and settled some two miles northeast of the Bowery along the trail into Council Bluffs.  The community was named Carterville and it was here they made their home for nearly 5 years when they would leave for Utah.  Hannah most likely lived with Dominicus and his family though many of her family were probably also in the immediate area.  The location of Carterville was significant as it was the first community travelers on this portion of the Oregon/Mormon Trail would pass through.  The Carters being mostly blacksmiths were located ideally to provide repairs to the travelers.  A story is told of William Furlsbury coming in to eat lunch each day and emptying his pockets of piles of coins he had already earned repairing wagons of those passing by. These funds were given to the Brethren and helped to fund the needs of the community as a whole. (William actually moved to Kanesville – modern day Council Bluffs – sometime during this period.)

Kanesville Tabernacle (restored)
While living in Carterville with her son Dominicus, Brigham Young was sustained as the second Prophet of the Church and the First Presidency was formally reorganized:

It was discussed occasionally that the First Presidency would be reinstated and it was clear that Brigham Young would be the one most likely sustained as the Prophet and President of the Church.  On December 5th, 1847, the Quorum of the Twelve met at Orson Hyde's farm home about eight miles southeast of present day Council Bluffs.

A unanimous approval reorganized the First Presidency with Brigham Young as Prophet and President, Heber C. Kinball as First Counselor, and Dr. Willard Richards as Second Counselor.  The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles comprised of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, Lyman Wight, Orson Pratt, Amasa Lyman, and Ezra T. Benson.  The precedent set in the tabernacle of reorganizing the First Presidency following the death of a Prophet continues today.

Church policy is to sustain the reorganization by church members.  Immediately, Bishop Henry W. Miller was assigned the task of building a tabernacle large enough to accommodate a large gathering of the members in order to present and sustain the new First Presidency.  A log tabernacle was built in the near downtown area of current day Council Bluffs, and the gathering occurred on December 27th.  This means that Bishop Miller had to build the 60' x 40' tabernacle in approximately 18 days.  This allowed him 2 or 3 days to gather 200 men to complete the monumental task in a cold and bitter December.  The building would need to accommodate 800 to 1,000 people, and was packed when at least 1,000 showed up. (

There is no record of Hannah, or the other members of the Carter family attending this event but they lived so close it is highly likely that they were there or at the General Conference on 6 April 1948 when Brigham was again sustained as the Prophet.

This was only a temporary arrangement, and indeed the Carters hoped to be with the first wave of emigrants to cross over the Rockies with Brigham but they were asked to stay behind and help outfit those passing through.  Though we know very little of this time period we can assume that it was a relatively peaceful interlude compared to the previous ten years.  Hannah would be able to watch her grandchildren grow up in a climate much safer than that which they had left.  Of her family left in Illinois we can only guess that Hannah probably corresponded by mail with them on occasion.  Eventually the call would come to head west but that is another story.

Coleman, Arthur D, “Carter pioneers of Provo, Utah : a biographical, genealogical and historical account of the Dominicus and other Carter families” (1966).
Carter, Barton L, “Dominicus Carter Latter-day Pioneer” (1997)
Scharrer, Leora Carter, “Life of William F. Carter” (197?) FHL  921.73 A1
Jensen, Andrew, “The Historical Record, Vol. 9” (1890)
Wikipedia Articles – “Mormon Battalion,” “Winter Quarters,” “Mexican-American War.”

Historical Pioneer Research Group, “Early Latter-day Saints – A Mormon Pioneer Data Base” ( Where They Walked - Visit Historic Sites)

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