Saturday, September 4, 2010

Montrose and the Mormon Trail west

I wish I knew how to mark pictures on the computer, but if you look right in the center of the picture, you see a white blip in the middle of the green and blue. That is the Nauvoo Temple. It is the very last view the Saints would have had of the temple as they climbed the bluff and headed toward Sugar Creek (which will be another posting). This road is very steep, and it took some extra "horses" from the van in which we were riding to get up it. It made the trek more realistic to me thinking of how those oxen had to pull harder to get up that steep hill. And then I pondered the feeling of loss they must have felt as they looked over at Nauvoo, not knowing where they were being taken, just that they were following the Lord's annointed to "a place which God for us prepared, far away in the west".
A view of the temple from the Linger Longer (otherwise known as the Mormon Trail). There are 130 documented wagon trails into this area, where the early Saints would have crossed by ferry or would have walked or driven across in their wagons when the river froze over. We always ask people to turn around on Parley Street and to look at the temple and imagine what the Saints would have been feeling knowing they would never see their beloved temple again. As I looked across the river, it was amazing how much that temple represents home to me.

There used to be five islands off the banks of Montrose. One of those islands is trying to resurface after the dam at Keokuk was built and raised the water level. You can see some brush sticking up through the water off in the distance. This is the island where the last 606 Saints who were driven from Nauvoo at gunpoint because they would not deny their testimonies of the prophet nor of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, were dumped. They had not time to prepare provisions or the means, which is why they were still in Nauvoo. Because they had nothing to eat, just as the children of Israel, the Lord sent quail among them to feed them. A river boat captain confirmed this miracle, writing that so many were landing on the decks of his boat that he could hardly make it down river.

The barracks for the enlisted men were located where the cement slab is just the other side of the railroad tracks (which would not have been here in 1838). In their histories, Mary Ann Young, and Leonora Taylor describe some memorable events here. It wasn't a well built barracks and was 14x14. Leonora said that there were holes in the wall so large that a skunk would stop in every night to sleep with them. It was from these barracks that Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball waved goodbye to their very ill wives and headed for England. In order to comfort his wife, Heber C. requested that they stand in the wagon and cheer, "Hoorah for Israel!" Vilate and Mary Ann came to the door and waved goodbye to them. Mary Ann made several trips across the river in a small row boat. Growing tired of that fun with six small children, she procured the land where the Brigham Young home is currently located, but they had a wooden shack until Brigham got home and drained the swamp and built their fine brick home.

In the early 1830's an army unit was sent to Montrose to guard the area because there were lead deposits here that the nation needed. The river was not as wide or as deep as it is now. In fact, there were rapids here believe it or not. Where the log lies is where the Captain's quarters were originally located and extended out into what is now the Mississippi River. Captain Kearney who later had a city and a fort named after him was the officer in charge for a time. Another famous General came here and made a drawing which helped those came behind to place where things were. His name? Robert E. Lee. This was in 1838.

This bluff in Montrose rises above the Mississippi River. This had been called the Half Breed Tract in an agreement with the Sac and Fox Indian Tribes. It was named Montrose because of this bluff. It had been covered with wild roses and so they named it Mount Rose or Montrose.

2 comments: said...

Wonderful post Marcia, it's just like being there. John and I sure would love visit while you'r there.

cindy g.

Mr C said...

I always thought Brigham Young did the Hoorah to his wife living inside her own home. Amazing. Also, it took me a LONG time to spot the Nauvoo temple in the first shot. I found it, but you really need to learn to do arrows! Then you can teach me!