Early LDS Excursions through Utah

By Leer, Twila Van | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), September 7, 2017 | Go to article overview

Early LDS Excursions through Utah


Leer, Twila Van, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


CEDAR CITY -

Zipping along at 65 to 80 miles per hour, you can easily travel from the northern border of Utah to the southern border in a day.

It wasn't quite so easy for Brigham Young and other LDS Church leaders in the early days of colonization in Utah Territory - and beyond. Excursions to all of the far-flung enclaves of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints at least once a year were a priority, but they could be endurance tests for human and animal.

When I was in Cedar City recently with a daughter and a couple of granddaughters, we picked up a little brochure in the Iron Mission State Park Museum titled "Brigham Young's Excursions to the Settlements," published by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. It details one of the pioneer leader's trips from Salt Lake City through the midsection of the territory and into the scattered settlements of Utah's Dixie.

This particular trip was a bit different. Most often, the authorities traveled in small groups and made serious business of it. On this trip in September 1864, they made a party of it, with a company of about 50 men, women and youths that required "thirteen light vehicles and two baggage wagons," according to a description that Vilate Murray Kimball, wife of Heber C. Kimball, wrote to family members.

In high holiday mood, the party drove to Pleasant Grove the first day, despite encountering "one of the severest hailstorms that ever visited that part of Utah," according to the account in the pamphlet.

It was then on through Payson, with an earlier stop in Provo to pick up William B. Pace's "first-class" string band. On the third day they were in Nephi, where "every man, woman and child in the place was out in holiday attire." The welcoming events included a brass band at the head of a cavalry company "discoursing sweet music to the satisfaction of all." Excursion leaders kidnapped the Salt Creek (early name for Nephi) brass band "body and breeches" and continued their journey.

In Fillmore, then the nominal capital of Utah Territory, the excursionists experienced an overwhelming welcome at the old Capitol Building (it was never completed as the capital role was moved to Salt Lake City). There the kidnapped brass band played "one of their fantasies in B" while "anvils boomed, cows bellowed, horses bucked, donkeys brayed, women shouted, youngsters yelled and dogs yelped."

A grand banquet and dance topped the stay in Fillmore, which lasted two and a half days. The dance was in the "large and commodious $28,000 Capitol Building," with the "famous Fillmore Fiddle Band" preempting the Salt Creek contingent for the occasion.

After the festive dance came the Sabbath sermons, addressed to the largest congregation ever assembled in Millard County at the time. …

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