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“On July 29, 1823, [Paul Wilhelm] reached the mouth of the Platte River and described the area to the north:

A great sandbank adjoining an island and covered with much driftwood closes the mouth of the outlet of the Platte . . . .

As far as the shallow little Butterfly Creek (Riviere au Papillon), the banks are covered with timber, later no more with trees but only meadow growth. On the sandbanks close to the water were low willows, whose seed easily takes root. The left . . . bank continues to be low and overgrown with cottonwoods. Then a stretch of prairie comes close to the bank, extending as far as a row of hills called Cotes a Kennel, on the slope of which the American Company at that time had a factory.

We reached this settlement by sundown after traveling along a meadow overgrown with tall nettles and flax-like weeds. The little Mosquito Creek flows into the stream from the left between willows. I set out from the boat in order to deliver my letters to the overseers of the American Company and stayed overnight.

George Catlin wrote of Bellevue after his visit in 1832. He said:

“‘Belle Vue is a lovely scene on the West bank of the river about nine miles above the mouth of the Platte, and is the agency of Major Dougherty, one of the oldest and most effective agents on our frontiers. This spot is, as I said, lovely in itself; but doubly so to the eye of the weather-beaten voyageur from the sources of the Missouri, who steers his canoe in, to the shore, as I did, and soon finds himself a welcome guest at the comfortable board of the Major, with a table again to eat from—and that (not ‘groaning') but standing under the comfortable weight of meat and vegetable luxuries, products of the labour of cultivating man. It was a pleasure to see again, in this great wilderness, a civilized habitation; and still more pleasant to find it surrounded with corn-fields, and potatoes, with numerous fruit-trees, bending under the weight of their fruit—with pigs and poultry, and kine; and what was best of all, to see the kind and benevolent face, that never looked anything but welcome to the half-starved guests, who throw themselves upon him from the North, from the South, the East or the West.'”

Yet another description of Bellevue comes from Prince Maximilian after his 1833 visit to the place:

“‘After passing the sand bank at the mouth of the Platte, we reached, in twenty minutes, Papillion Creek, and saw before us the green-wooded chain of hills with the buildings of Belle Vue, the agency of Major Dougherty. There were many sand banks in the river, on which there were numbers of wild geese, and some quite white birds, with black quill feathers—perhaps cranes or pelicans. At two in the afternoon we reached M. Fontenelle's dwelling, consisting of some buildings, with fine plantations of maize, and verdant wooded hills behind it. A part of the plantations belongs to the government. The prairie extends beyond the hills. The land is extremely fertile; even when negligently cultivated, it yields 100 bushels of maize per acre, but is said to produce much more when proper care is bestowed on it. The cattle thrive very well, and the cows give much milk, but some salt must now and then be given them. M. Fontenelle expected to possess, in a few years, 5,000 swine, if the Indians did not steal too many of them.

“‘Belle Vue, Mr. Dougherty's post, is agreeably situated. The direction of the river is north-west. Below, on the bank, there are some huts, and on the top the buildings of the agents, where a sub-agent, Major Beauchamp, a blacksmith, and some servants of the company, all lived with their families, who attend to the plantations and affairs of the company. These men were mostly married to women of the tribes of Otoes and Omaha; all, on our landing, immediately came on board. Their dress was of red or blue cloth, with a white border, and cut in the Indian fashion. Their faces were broad and coarse, their heads large and round . . . and feet small and delicate. Their children had dark brown hair, and agreeable features. Belle Vue was formerly a trading post of the Missouri Fur Company, on the dissolution of which it was bought by M. Fontenelle, who parted with it to the government and was appointed to the agency of the Otoe, Omahas, Pawnees, and Ioways. M. Fontenelle settled, as I have said, 600 or 800 paces further down the river. Here the Yellowstone lay to, and we inspected the buildings of the agency, from which there is a very fine view of the river, especially from the summit of the hill, a great number of shells, of which, however, I could see only bivalves; but our time was too short to decide on this point.'” (1)

Bellevue is located on the west bank of the Missouri River. The site was easily accessible from the river: “It was easier for the traders to meet at Bellevue than at any other point on the river.” (2)


Bellevue was established in the early 1820s, although the exact date in unclear. “According to Sunder the Bellevue post was built early in 1823. Morgan has published a letter to Pilcher from Thomas Hempstead in St. Louis dated February 12, 1823, which mentioned a new fort or trading post. . . . [David Meriweather] recalled that ‘the first night we camped a little below Fort Lisa, and the second night at the mouth of the Platte River near which we found a trading house, which had recently been erected by Mr. Robidoux a trader from St. Louis.' The possibility that this post might be Bellevue should be briefly considered, although it does not seem likely. At this time the Robidouxs were close business associates of the Chouteaus, long-time competitors of the Missouri Fur Company both before and after the reorganization cause by [Mauel] Lisa's death. If this post were Bellevue, it must have been sold to the Missouri Company prior to . . . 1823. No record or even a suggestion of such a transaction has been found. In addition, . . . other descriptions . . . clearly indicate that [the Missouri Fur Company's] post was several miles above the Platte River and Papillion Creek.” (3)

Fur traders, many apparently of French ancestry, were the earliest ones to settle at Bellevue, along with the Indian women they married, and their children. Other Indians lived here also. Later, the federal government established an Indian agency at the same location. Apparently soldiers lived there too. Moses Merrill, a Baptist missionary, and later Reverend Edward McKinney, a Presbyterian missionary, lived there also. (4)

A party of Saints arrived in 1847, but were only passing through on their way to Winter Quarters. (5)

I think it likely that the Latter-day Saints did not actually stay in Bellevue, but that they maintained some contact with the town. Reasons for doing so include its post office, ferry, and the arm of the federal government in the form of the Indian agency. The animosity so recently shown the Latter-day Saints by the “gentiles” is one reason the Saints may have kept their distance from Bellevue. (6) Also, many of the Saints may have preferred the religiously homogenous environment which LDS settlements offered. The following are events that occurred in Bellevue while the Saints were at least living nearby.

“1849—The Nebraska post office is established, with Daniel Reed as postmaster.

“1852—Major Barrows, Stephen Decatur, and others project a town organization.” (7)

An interesting note by one early 20th Century historian says that Colonel Peter A. Sarpy, American Fur Company agent at Bellevue charged extremely high prices for the use of his ferry. The Saints of 1852 decided to use a different ferry that crossed the Missouri at Bethlehem. (8)

Major J. E. Barrow(s) was the town's Frontier Guardian representative. (8)  

For a map of Bellevue and the major highways nearby, go to:

The city's website may prove interesting to the reader:


  1. Federal Writers' Project, Old Bellevue (Sarpy County, Nebraska: Works Progress Administration, 1937), 7-8.
  2. Federal Writers' Project, Old Bellevue , 6.
  3. Richard E. Jensen, “ Bellevue : The First Twenty Years, 1822-1842,” Nebraska History (1975, vol. 56, issue 3), 343-344.
  4. Federal Writers' Project, Old Bellevue , 6-11.
  5. Federal Writers' Project, Old Bellevue , 11.
  6. James A. Little, From Kirtland to Salt Lake City ( Salt Lake City : James A. Little, 1890), 239.
  7. Federal Writers' Project, Old Bellevue , 11.
  8. Charles H. Babbitt, Early Days at Council Bluffs ( Washington , D.C. : Press of Byron S. Adams, 1916), 86-87.
  9. Orson Hyde, ed., Frontier Guardian (4 April 1851).

List of community residents forthcoming

Return to Settlement Map

Cold Spring Camp

Cold Spring Camp

When the first ferry was completed (July 1st, 1846), several families and wagons crossed the Missouri and formed a regrouping community west of the ferry near a cold water spring.  The area was near present day 60th and L Street in Omaha.  The spring has since been diverted to an underground culvert.  A marker at the northwest corner of 60th and L is all that remains to identify the first Mormon camp west of the Missouri River.

"The Mormons were camped in Indian territory but the intention was to be there for a short period of time only.  The camp was to be a gathering place before traveling on to Grand island or on to the Rockies the same year.  There was great concern for the Mormons stranded in Nauvoo, and those still in other parts of Illinois, Mount Pisgah, Garden Grove, and Montrose, Iowa.  Due to heavy rains, the Mormons had arrived two months later than hoped.  Running out of time to continue the journey, these issues prompted the Mormons to consider making camp for the winter at the Missouri River.  It was also important to send a rescue mission back to help those that were in constant danger stranded at the Mississippi River.

"More Mormons continued to arrive on the east side of the Missouri River during the time of Cold Spring Camp.  The decision was made to join the others when an agreement was made to camp for the winter on Indian land to the north of present day Omaha.


“While awaiting final word on the Grand Island plan, those pioneers already on the west side of the Missouri River stopped at a temporary resting place, recommended by George Miller, on the Petit Papillion Creek, which they called Cold Springs or Butterfly Bluff. Situated four miles northwest of the ferry landing and fifteen miles above Bellevue, Cold Springs served as camp headquarters and provided a much needed resting place for most of a hot, sweltering July.

“Once the Mormons decided to winter at the Missouri, several parties explored northwestward along its banks as far as the old Missouri Encampment and old Fort Calhoun and as far west as the Elkhorn, in hopes of finding a larger, more suitable winter campsite. But they could find ‘no place better' than the relatively well-timbered, well-watered area about Cold Springs.” (2)

“The precise location of the Cold Springs encampment is uncertain. Some contemporary writers said it was thirteen miles form Mosquito Creek while others claimed it was only four miles from Council Point. See Heber C. Kimball Journal, 13 July 1846; and Journal of Horace K. Whitney, 21 October 1846. A consensus estimate would place it four miles from the west bank landing in present Omaha, Nebraska. Gail Holmes contends it was on the Little Papio Creek just north of Interstate 80 and near the corner of 61st and Patterson streets in Omaha. See Gail George Holmes, ‘Winter Quarters Revisited—Untold Stories of the Seven-Year Stay of Mormons in the Missouri Valley 1846-53,' 19-20; and Holmes's leaflet ‘Historic Mormon Sites to Visit in greater Omaha-Council Bluffs.'” (3)


The first Mormon pioneers arrived in Cold Springs Camp about the beginning of July, 1846. (4)
The Saints also referred to this place [as] Butterfly Bluff. (5)
According to Thomas Kane, there was “a favorite cool spring” there, which seems likely to be the source of the name, “Cold Springs Camp.” (6)
The Mormons arrived about the first of July, 1846. (7)

“[One hundred-forty] years ago, Cold Spring Camp, located four miles west of the Missouri River on the Mormon Trail, was intended to be a westward staging point. Instead, it became a turning point in the LDS exodus from Illinois to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Cold Spring Camp was the assembly point for those religious refugees who started crossing over the Missouri River July 1, 1846, on the new LDS ferry. They were confident they had enough supplies to see them through the 1000-mile covered wagon trek from the Missouri to the Great Salt Lake Valley. The ferry ran day and night, carrying two loaded wagons with teams and drivers each trip. However, if the wind was strong enough to lap waves into the boat, threatening to founder it, the ferry was tied up till calmer weather. Thus the pioneer movement from Iowa into Nebraska was very slow. Cold Spring Camp became unexpectedly settled, waiting for a signal from the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

“Philadelphian Thomas L. Kane, who carried orders from Washington, D.C., to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas territory, for the recruitment of a Mormon battalion to serve in the War with Mexico, described what he later saw at Cold Spring Camp:

‘It was situated near the Petit Paillon, or Little Butterfly River, and upon some finely rounded hills that encircle a favorite cool spring. On each of these a square was marked out; and the wagons as they arrived took their positions along its four sides in double rows, so as to leave a roomy street or passageway between them. The tents were disposed also in rows, at intervals between the wagons. The cattle were folded in high-fenced yards outside. The quadrangle inside was left vacant for the sake of ventilation, and the streets, covered with leafy arbor work and kept scrupulously clean, formed a shaded cloister walk. This was the place of exercise for slowly recovering invalids, the day-home of the infants, and the evening promenade of all.'

“Kane, whose curiosity about the Saints led him into wide-ranging rambles and sometimes awkward situations, got caught in Cold Springs Camp. Two women were washing up in a tent while talking about the dust and hardships. When one of them stepped to the flap to empty the wash basin, there she saw a handsome young stranger standing near the tent with his head cocked, apparently listening to their discussion. Later she discovered it was Kane, who by then had proved himself to be a gifted, if somewhat prying, friend of the Mormons.

“Son of a federal district judge in Philadelphia and himself a former consular worker in Paris, Kane recognized merit in the Mormons. He later told the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

‘From the first formation of the camp, all its inhabitants were constantly and laboriously occupied. Many of them were highly educated mechanics, and seemed only to need a day's anticipated rest to engage them at the forge, loom, or turning lathe, upon some needed chore of work. A Mormon gunsmith (Jonathan Browning) is the inventor of the excellent repeating rifle, that loads by slides instead of cylinders; and one of the neatest finished fire-arms I have ever seen was of this kind, wrought from scraps of old iron, and inlaid with the silver of a couple of half dollars, under a hot July sun, in a spot where the average height of the grass was above the workman's shoulders. I have seen a cobbler, after the halt of his party on the march, hunting along the river bank for a lap-stone in the twilight, that he might finish a famous boot sole by the camp fire; and I have had a piece of cloth, the wool of which was sheared, and dyed , and spun, and woven, during a progress of over three hundred miles. . . .

“The Saints built a bridge over the Papillon, about a quarter mile west of Cold Spring Camp, and a bridge building crew was sent further west to the Elkhorn River. Before the Papillon bridge was fitted with guard rails, an ox fell off and broke a leg. About that time some Oto (Oh Toe) Indians came to the authorities of the church with complaints that LDS livestock had gotten into at least one of their corn fields, causing extensive damage. The ox with a broken leg was given to the Oto as compensation and the Indians were satisfied. Not long after, some Omaha (Ohm-Ah-Haw) Indians came to Cold Spring Camp selling green corn. A number of families bought corn. Another Oto delegation followed in short order, informing the Saints the Omaha Indians had stolen the corn from Oto corn fields. Church leaders then notified residents of Cold Spring Camp not to buy any corn, for fear it might be stolen corn.

“The LDS ferry across the Missouri and the bridge across the Papillon River (now called Papillion or Papio Creek) brought the Saints into direct contact with Indian residents of what Congress had declared ‘Indian Country.' That was in contrast to their contacts with the Pottawattamie-Ottawa-Chippewa Indians in southwest Iowa, who had just sold their lands in Iowa to the federal government in exchange for lands in northeast Kansas territory.

“Brigham Young, in a letter to Dr. Bernhisel June 22, 1846, said:

‘The Indians and citizens up to this point are very kind and the saints can emigrat[e] in small or large bodies this far, but when they pass the Missouri river, they will be among uncivilized beings, and must move only in large, compact and well guarded bodies.

‘Observe perfect order, and watch as well as pray,' he said.

“An innocent assignment to Bishop George Miller three days earlier was to lead Church members, unexpectedly, into their closest and most threatening contact with Indians. American Fur Company agent Peter Sarpy at Bellevue had offered the saints a job to haul ab[o]ut 50,000 pounds of buffalo hides from Grand Island, Nebraska, back to Bellevue. Bishop Miller was delegated to respond to the offer. He agreed to send wagons 175 miles west to Grand Island, pick up the robes and bring them back to Bellevue, for which he was to be paid in gold and horses. A train of wagons large enough to do the job and to be able to defend itself against possible attack could not be organized until after the Missouri River ferry was completed and opened July 1 for ‘public' use. While that organization was taking place at Cold Spring Camp, church leaders considered directing the main body of Saints to Grand Island where they might winter. By July 14, Charles Decker arrived at Grand Encampment from the Elkhorn River, informing President Young that Bishop Miller's company and Emmett's company were '60 miles west and going on.' But by the time those two groups, comprising of about 200 pioneers in at least 70 wagons, crossed the North Loup River, 50 miles short of Grand Island, they encountered a sobering scene.

“A party of Dakota Sioux had attacked and burned out a Pawnee village, vacated during summer hunt except for some sick and some elderly Indians who had not followed the four to six-weeks hunt for buffalo. The Dakota were long gone, but near the village were Presbyterian missionaries, government teachers, farmers and blacksmiths. The mission, and some of the whites, had been there almost 10 years. When the LDS wagon trains arrived and surveyed the burned out village and questioned the whites about the tragedy, the Presbyterian missionaries and government workers indicated they would like to abandon the mission and return, at least, as far as Bellevue. Bishop Miller bought some of their property and crops, emptied some wagons, loaded up the whites and sent them back to Bellevue with LDS teamsters. It is not clear, from available records, whether other wagons were sent on to Grand Island for the buffalo robes or whether that contract was fulfilled at a later date. Miller's group waited in the North Loup area.

“In responding to Miller's request for a cannon and two coil of barge rope, Brigham Young on August 4, 1846, wrote:

‘. . . you will have to be diligent to prepare for winter, so as to procure feed for your cattle before the Indians fire the prairies to gather the buffalo, which they will do as soon as the grass is dry enough. It will be wisdom for you to settle as near together as circumstances will permit to be able to resist any encroachments from the Indians. When the weather is cold enough, you may do well to send back some of your teams to winter in this vicinity and load up with grain again in the spring. We shall be able to come up with you before you will want to leave Pawnee in the spring. If there is a good chance for hay at Pawnee, perhaps you cannot do better than to remain in that neighborhood. . . . You will do well to organize a council of 12 men to supervise the affairs of the church with you temporarily and spiritually, and see that offenders of the law do not go unpunished.

‘We would suggest that Geo. Miller preside in said council, associated with Newel Knight, Joseph Holbrook, Titus Billings, Hiram Clark, Noah W. Bartholomew, Anson call, David Lewis, John A. Mikesell, Solomon Hancock, Erastus Bingham, Thomas gates, Charles Chrisman and Asahel Lathrop, or sufficient of them to constitute the quorum of twelve. According to the best knowledge we have, we are now disposed to recall our recommendation of making Fort Laramie or the island (Grand Island) this fall, for there is danger of the fires cutting off supplies for your stock. . .'

“This last instruction may have frustrated and angered the capable and ambitious George Miller, who had broken trail and built many bridges for the exodus crossing Iowa. We suddenly find him making a decision which, if it was not based on treacherous Indian information, was uncharacteristically foolish and rebellious. As the Quorum of the Twelve came successively to the conclusion they would not send a pioneer group over the mountains in 1846; would not try to send an advance party to Fort Laramie or the entire migrating body to Grand Island; would winter by the Missouri River – Primarily to be within reach of the stragglers still attempting to leave Nauvoo, Illinois, or to get themselves across Iowa – George Miller seized an opportunity to effectively remove himself from the line of migration. A small party of Ponca (Pong-Ka) Indians, with an elderly chief, happened upon the Miller wagon train Sunday evening, August 9. Miller, years after he apostatized from the church, claimed the Ponca Indians assured him the Pawnee, on returning from their summer hunt, would tell him there was not enough grass in that area for their horses and for all the livestock in Miller's party. After some debate, Miller's group left 20 families at the Pawnee location under the direction of Jacob Gates. The rest recrossed the North Loup Fork August 12 and went 100 miles north with the Ponca Indians. They were promised a welcome with the Ponca Tribe and that they would find an abundance of rushes along the river to winter their livestock. Both promises were fulfilled. What was not mentioned was that the horses of the pioneers would be ‘borrowed' by the Poncas and that they would be required to move close to the Ponca village to discourage the Dakota Sioux from attacking. Nor, of course, was it know[n] that the winter fort built by the Saints with Miller, where Newel Knight and a number of others were buried, would be burned to the ground within sight of the departing Saints as they left in the spring to go down to Winter Quarters. Joseph Holbrook described that fort as having 110 lots along two parallel lines 106 feet apart, two miles from the mouth of the ‘running water' (Niobrara) river, at the Missouri River. If Miller hoped to draw many of his party with him when he broke with the church, those plans, too, went up in smoke. His family followed him into northeast Kansas where he did some building for the Pottawattamie Indians, before going on to join Lyman Wight in Texas.

“After the decision of the Quorum of Twelve was made in the beginning of August to winter by the Missouri River, Alpheus Cutler, master builder of the temple at Nauvoo, scouted out a good location for wintering. On August 6 and 7, the residents of Cold Spring Camp took down their tents and packed their wagons – not to go west to the Great Salt Lake Valley, or to Fort Laramie or even to Grand Island – to move nine miles north to spend the winter of 1846-47. Cold Spring Camp, originally a place of high anticipation, thereafter became a quiet rest spot between Cutler's Park and the first or Middle Mormon Ferry on the Missouri River. Today, if you visit the site of Cold Spring Camp you will not find Thomas L. Kane's ‘finely rounded hills.' Nor will you find a ‘favorite cool spring.' When Karen Addition was built in Omaha west of 60th Street and north L Street , earth moving equipment was used to level the terrain. The favorite spring was capped and piped underground to the Papio. All that remains now is a mind's eye view superimposed on a sentimental look from the west edge of the parking lot at St. Joseph High School just east of 60th and north of L Streets. While musing on that half sunlit, half dreamy vision, one keeps in mind that the headquarters of the church was there – at Cold Spring Camp – briefly.” (8)

Cold Springs Camp was the “ Second LDS Church headquarters site by [the] Missouri River, but on [the] Nebraska side . . . [and was a] gathering point for those planning to continue [the] westward exodus. [Cold Springs acted as headquarters from] Jul[y] 1 to Aug[ust] 6/7, 1846.” (9)

The following is an excerpt from the journal of Hosea Stout:

Saturday August 1st 1846. . . . “On our way thither [to Cold Springs Camp] we met Brigham and others going to the river he told me to select a clean place as near the springs as I could get and encamp near him.

“This is the most singular springs I ever saw. It came out of the ground in a place where there was no hills only on the side of a common declivity and affords watter sufficient for the whole camp. In fact there was a continual dipping of watter out of it which did not seem to lessen the stream . . .

“There was numerous hosts of Indians strolling about camp all the time They were the Otos and Mohas or more properly the Omahas. and differed widely in appearance from the Pottawattamies on the other side of the river. They were not so well dressed. Instead of good blankets they were at best dressed in old blankets & some entirely in dressed skins in their pure wild native dress but they were uncommonly friendly & would sell green corn for bread and such articles as they wanted to eat . . .

“Tuesday August the 4th 1846. Today the camp commenced to move to the place where it was contemplated to winter. The teams were rolling out all day. I was at home all day.

“Wednesday August the 5th 1846. Brigham returned to this place this morning and tendered me the use of a span of horses and waggon to move on in which I of course accepted It was the team which George & Joseph Herring the Mohawk Indians had the use of. They had come to the conclusion to go b ack and winter among the Pottawattamies for one of them an old acquaintance had proferred to find them in provision this winter gratis and Brigham wanted me to move them to the Ferry and then have the use of the team to move in which I did I went over the river & traded some and came home and prepared to start.

“Thursday Augt 6th 1846. Started to move this morning. The weather was very hot and sultry we only went about six miles stopping to or three hours at noon to let the cattle breath We encamped on the top of the river bluff but near six miles off. It was a beautiful camping place and all those who had gone before had stoped here by the appearance of the ground. There was a good spring near by.

“Friday August the 7th 1846. We traveled on to day and arrived in the main camp after traveling about six miles. I found the camp situated on the prairie in two divisions and located on two ridges forming a beautiful sight. . . .

“Monday April the 26th 1847. This morning I & the Marshal rode to Belview to take a letter to Mr Miller the agent.

“We got there about noon & the agent not being at home we left it with his clerk who seemed well pleased as to the policy we were taking with the Indians. We were well recieved & Sister Groesbeck who was there give us our dinners.

“While there we were informed that four Omaha womens went out near to the big spring where we first camped after crossing the river, to get some corn and while there were attacted by some souix we we afterwards learned they were, who killed two and wounded one more of the women. They fled to the village and gave the alarm whereupon about 150 Omahas & ottoes started after them on horse back and over took & killed seven, who they found in a deep ravin. There were two Omahas killed in the conflict one by an otto through mistake.” (10)

“[I]n early August” 1846, Alpheus Cutler located a new site for the Saints to occupy, since the influx of LDS refugees was overwhelming Cold Springs Camp. (11)

“Cold Spring Camp (July 1-Aug. 7, 1846) was assembly point for wagons planning to go on west to Grand Island or to Rocky Mountains. Concern for the safety of stragglers in Nauvoo, Illinois and at Garden Grove and Mt. Pisgah, Iowa brought the decision to winter by the Missouri River. See Thomas L. Kane's 1850 address to Historical Society of Pennsylvania for the best description of organization and industry at Cold Spring Camp. Here was most immediate contact with Omaha and Oto-Missouri Indians, endangering Indians fields.” (12)

“Cold Spring Camp Site :

“S Omaha Satellite Motel at 60th & L Streets. Marker and text by motel flagpole because Christian alliance up E hill wouldn't allow Mormon historical marker where it belongs.” (13)


  1. Richard E. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852: “And Should We Die . . .” ( Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004), 68.
  2. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852: “And Should We Die . . .,” 263.
  3. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852: “And Should We Die . . .,” 68.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Gail Geo. Holmes, Old Council Bluff(s): Mormon Developments, 1846-1853, in the Missouri and Platte River Valleys of SW Iowa & E Nebraska (Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha Institute of Religion, 2000), 45.
  6. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852: “And Should We Die . . .,” 68.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Holmes, Old Council Bluff(s): Mormon Developments, 1846-1853, in the Missouri and Platte River Valleys of SW Iowa & E Nebraska, 45-48.
  9. Gail Geo. Holmes, “BYU Research Team Study in Middle Missouri Valley 6-9/05,” Winter Quarters Project archives, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; .
  10. Hosea Stout, On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861, Juanita Brooks, ed. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press and Utah State Historical Society, 1964), 182-184, 252.
  11. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri , 1846-1852: “And Should We Die . . .,” 68.
  12. Holmes, Old Council Bluff(s): Mormon Developments, 1846-1853, in the Missouri and Platte River Valleys of SW Iowa & E Nebraska, 63.
  13. Ibid.

List of community residents forthcoming

Return to Settlement Map

Cutler's Park

Peter Hansen Drawing of Cutler's Park, 1846, Courtesy LDS Church Archives

Click here to view an interview with Gail Holmes, local historian, along with pictures of Cutler's Park.
View Cutler's Park Burials

Cutler's Park


Cutler’s Park is located four miles west of Winter Quarters and nine miles north of Cold Spring Camp (1, 2). The site is three miles west of the Missouri River (3).

It’s latitude and longitude are 41°19'58"N 95°59'28"W (4).

“It was located northwest of Omaha and north of Irvington, along the Little Papillion Creek, somewhere to the east of where Interstate 280 crosses this creek” (5).    

Cutler’s Park is “…east of today’s Mormon Bridge Road and north of Young Street” (6).


The pioneers at Cold Spring Camp in 1846 took down their tents, loaded their equipment in their wagons, and moved nine miles north to a site they named Cutler’s Park (7).

It was the first established city in Nebraska and was founded “…in August 1846 by 2500 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) who where enroute to the Rocky Mountains” (8).

“The first suggested site for winter quarters was named after Alpheus Cutler, who selected it” (9).

Cutler’s Park was “…compromised of only tents and wagons arranged in orderly squares” (10).

White at Cutlers Park, there was a great deal of sickness. Cutlers Park…was on such an elevation as to be too exposed for winter life. So we settled upon the flats. Near the Missouri River which were called winter quarters” (11).

“Late in August, almost 90 Omaha and nearly that many Oto Indians walked unexpectedly into Cutler’s Park, asking rent for use of the Cutler’s Park land” (12). “Brigham Young, the leader of the Mormons (although not President of the Mormon Church at the time) met with the Indians. A war nearly broke out when the Omaha/Ottawa/Chippewa natives were offered the same rent as the Oto/Missouri natives. The Omaha/Ottawa/Chippewa natives had only been in the area since 1843 (three years earlier) but the Oto had been in the are since the 1700s. At that point, the Church leaders made an agreement with Big Elk, chief of the Omaha nation, to live on land closer to the Missouri River. Immediately, camp was September 11th, 1846 Cutler’s Park had been completely vacated” (13).

A park with flowers, trees, and a monument was opened in April of 1997 in order to memorialize the very short-lived settlement of Cutler’s Park. On June 14 of that year, President Boyd K. Packer, who at the time was Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, dedicated the memorial site (14).


Elizabeth Ann Richards-August 16, 1846
Julia Pack-August 30, 1846
John Coltrin-August 31, 1846
Jonathan Harriman Hale-September 4, 1846
Mary Elizabeth Robinson-September 8, 1846
Charles Henry Snow-September 9, 1846
John Hyrum Fielding-September 16, 1846
Wealthy Lovisa Richards-September 14, 1846
Janet Gardner-September 14, 1846
William. Thadeus Keller-September 14, 1846
Agnes Swap-September 16, 1846)
Martha Ann Webster Hovey-September 16, 1846 and daughter, Martha Jane Hovey-January 18, 1848, buried with her
George Corry-September 18, 1846
David Gould Smith-September 18, 1846
Lydia Owen-September 19, 1846
Abigail Carpenter-September 22, 1846
Elizabeth Hoopes Brinton-September 24, 1846 and her son, Robert H. Brinton-October 17, 1848, buried with her
John Proctor-September 25, 1846
Samuel E. Carpenter-September 25, 1846
Marinda Bennett Stout-September 26, 1846
Phelina Cox-September 26, 1846
Horace Datus Ensign-September 28, 1846
Louisa ConleeTanner-September 29, 1846
Phelina Clark-October 1, 1846
Ann Fogg Wordsworth-October 6, 1846
Ashbell Dewey-October 6, 1846
Patty C. Hakes-October 9, 1846
Lehi Moroni Vance-October 9, 1846
Hannah A. Burgess Jones-October 10, 1846
Joan Scobie Campbell and infant-October 16, 1846
John Cummings-October 11, 1846
Sarah Ann Covington-October 16, 1846
Eliza Ann Peirson Richards-October 21, 1846
Calista Allen-October 17, 1846
Joseph Lamoni Morely-October18, 1846
Barbara Heath-October 21, 1846
Peter Williams-October 22, 1846
Charles Parcket (Packet)-October 25, 1846
Caroline Rocealy Hunter-October 22, 1846
Angelina Elizabeth Lawrence-October 22, 1846
John Ackley-October 24, 1846
Rhoda Almira Lawrence-October 25, 1846
Hirum McCord-October 25, 1846
William Angus-October 26, 1846
Lyman Callahan-October 27, 1846
Mary (Mercy) Ann Simmons Bruce-October 28, 1846
Melissa Kelsey-October 30, 1836
Rhoda Ewers Pearson-October 30, 1846
Elizabeth Sprague-October 31, 1846
Almira Angell-November 1, 1846
Joshua Sawyer Holman-November 1, 1846
Hannah Arrowsmith-November 4, 1846
Fredrick Flake-November 3, 1846
Ezra Leonard-November 4, 1846
Henry Pearson-November 6, 1846
David L. Rolfe-November 6, 1846
Hyrum B. Nobles-November 6, 1846
Mary Spears-November 7, 1846
Cordelia Allen-November 6, 1846
Henry Adams-November 10, 1846
George Alma Cummings-November 9, 1846
Daniel Weeden Clark-November 9, 1846
Joseph Carter Woodruff-November 12, 1846
George Spear-November 12, 1846
Orson H. Ellsworth-November 12, 1846
Amos Babcock-November 14, 1846
Elizabeth Adamson Melville-November 14, 1846
Julia Ann Hooker Shumway-November 15, 1846 (19)


  2. Holmes, Gail Geo. ""The LDS Legacy in Southwestern Iowa." Ensign. Aug 1988: 54-57. Web.
  5. Kimball, Stanley B.. "The Iowa Trek of 1846: The Brigham Young Route from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters." . N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct 2013.
  7. Holmes, “The LDS Legacy in Southwestern Iowa”, 54-57.
  8. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints placard.
  10. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints placard.
  11. Madsen, Carol Cornwall . Journey to Zion: Voices from the Mormon Trail. Deseret Book , 261. Print.
  12. Kimball, “The Iowa Trek of 1846: The Brigham Young Route from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters”.
  14. "Celebrating the Sesquicentennial." Ensign . Oct 1997: n. page. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
  15. Find a Grave.
  17. Improvement Era . 14. eBook.
  18.  “Mormon Overland Trails: Sarah Ann Ashton”
  19. Jensen, Carlyle B, and Gail Geo. Holmes. A "Grave" Experience At The Mormon Pioneer Winter Quarters Cemetery. 1-5. Print.

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Elkhorn Camp

History and list of community residents forthcoming

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Summer Quarters


Summer Quarters was bounded on the west by a bluff, on the south by Moore Creek, on the east by the Missouri River, and on the north by Mill Creek (1).  The town of Desoto, Nebraska stands where the homes of Summer Quarters used to be about fourteen miles north of Winter Quarters and about twenty miles north of downtown Omaha on US-75.


Brigham Young made a plan for a farm that would help provide food and grain for thousands of Mormons waiting in Winter Quarters to make the trip west.  It was called Brigham Young’s farm or Summer Quarters.  Young appointed Isaac Morley to oversee his farm with John D. Lee as foreman.  The farm was designed to be a family cooperative.  Lee estimated that the area cultivated was about 600 acres.  The land was close to Fort Atkinson which was established in 1820 but abandoned in 1827 (2). 

John D. Lee drove the first of ten teams out of Winter Quarters and toward Summers Quarters on March 29, 1847.  The company set up camp the first night “on a creek about 3 miles north of the old fort.”  At dawn, Lee and another man left on horseback to explore the country within a five- mile area.  The land they chose was bounded on the west by the bluff that runs between Moore Creek and Mill Creek, on the east by the Missouri River, on the South by Moore Creek and on the north by Mill Creek.  Some of this land had been cultivated by the soldiers from Fort Calhoun in the spring of 1820.

The land was divided with 75-acres to Lee, 30 acres to George D. Grant, 15 acres to Isaac Morley and 45 acres divided among at least twenty others (3).  Homes were built from logs that were cut or from bricks left behind at Fort Atkinson.  The construction took place on the northern edge and close together for defensive purposes. 

The pages of Lee’s journal offer a glimpse of what daily life was like in Summer Quarters mentioning activities such as tending cattle, building bridges, working in the fields with his family, traveling to Winter Quarters to have grain milled, and negotiating an uneasy peace with local Native American tribes.  Not infrequently, Lee also recorded notes on sermons given at church.  By their industry, Lee reported that his family had produced over 7,000 bushels of corn (4).

In spite of this productivity, there were also frequent disagreements at Summer Quarters. These arose as early as May 9, 1847, when residents met at Lee’s home to discuss how to formally divide timbered land to which several men had made separate claims, causing “some hard feelings with some of the brethren” (5). Joseph Busby, S.A. Dunn, T.S. Johnson, and G. Arnold threatened to leave for Missouri, complaining against Lee and Morley for supposedly dividing up the “dividend” of produce unfairly (6). The disagreements continued on and off to such a degree that the Winter Quarters police came in to settle feuds on multiple occasions (7). Much of the contention surrounded the initial unequal allotment of land, the possible theft of some of Lee’s crop by other farmers, and false accusations leveled against Lee (8).  These accusations led Lee to appear before the High Council at Winter Quarters, but they were eventually resolved between Lee and Brigham Young (9).

Lee’s memorandum written in the spring of 1848, suggested that the making of wagons for the trek “to the valley”, and the sale and barter of corn, were the main activities at Summer Quarters.  Corn was taken almost daily to Winter Quarters and sold for about twenty-five cents a bushel and bread corn for about fifty cents (10).

As the settlement of Summer Quarters had been established in the Indian Territory, keeping peace with Native American neighbors was an ongoing issue. Most of Lee’s interactions with them seem to have been confrontations. The natives took cattle as a rent payment, although the residents often saw this as theft (11). In the spring of 1848, after increased contact with the local tribes, Brigham Young advised those who were not leaving for the Rockies to move to the Iowa side of the river (12). On April 15, twenty-five Pawnee arrived and asked for food, which Lee provided, along with housing for the night. On April 25, 160 natives arrived, including women and children, and Lee responded in similar fashion, but he also sent a messenger to notify Young of the situation. This time, Lee also warned the natives that anyone “lurking about” at night was in danger of being shot. The next day, Young ordered the people at Summer Quarters to evacuate immediately, which they did in heavy rain, arriving in Winter Quarters between 10 am and 4 pm that same day (13).


Summer Quarters An epidemic hit the camp in mid-summer of 1847.  John D. Lee described it as “a disease not common to our people but resembling that of the cholera.  “When attacked a hot fiver in head and bowels inwardly accompanied [sic]and seviere [sic] cramping and distress in the stomach and bowels which if not checked causes an inflammation after which they soon mortify, hand, feet and legs cold as ice” (14).  Burials were made in the prairie on a “high eminence” about a ½ mile south of the settlement.  Lee called the cemetery Fair View burying grounds. 

David Isom Young, age 20, was the first victim.  He died on July 19, 1847 and was buried in the northwest corner.  According to John D. Lee, seventeen people died during the epidemic (15).

Possible burials at the Summer Quarters, Fair View Cemetery

Name Birth Date Death Date
David Isom Young 21 Mar 1826 19 Jul 1847
Thomas Eldridge Fuller 23 Apr 1818 3 Aug 1847
Hannah Elizabeth Fuller Hatch 24 Feb 1827 10 Aug 1847
Edward Meeks Fuller 26 Jan 1792 19 Aug 1847
Nancy Gibbons Armstrong Lee 7 Jan 1799 21 Aug 1847
Henrietta Gully 4 Mar 1846 29 Aug 1847
Isaac Houston, Jr. 10 Jul 1847 31 Aug 1847
Edward Meeks Fuller, Jr. 26 Feb 1829 Sep 1847
Adolphia Allen Young 12 Mar 1846 9 Sep 1847
Susan Young 1847 1847
Charles Collins 1847 1847
Heber John Lee 15 Aug 1846 1847
Adolphia Allen Young 1846 9 Sep 1847
Willard Wilber Weeks 13 Mar 1847 25 Sep 1847
David Adolpheus Young 19 Jun 1772 10 Oct 1847


  1. John D. Lee, Journals of John D. Lee (1846-57, 1859), Charles Kelly, ed., Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984, 140-141.
  2. Charles S. Peterson, introduction to Journals of John D. Lee (1846-47, 1859), by John D, Lee, Charles Kelly, ed., (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984), xxv.
  3. John D. Lee, Journals of John D. Lee (1846-57, 1859), Charles Kelly, ed., Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984, 150-151.
  4. John D. Lee, Writings of John D. Lee, Samuel N. Henrie, ed., (Tucson, Arizona: Fenestra, 2002), 199.
  5. John D. Lee, Journals of John D. Lee (1846-57, 1859), Charles Kelly, ed., Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984, 163-164.
  6. Richard E. Bennett, Mormons of the Missouri, 1846-1852. “And Should We Die …” (Norman:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2004), No. 77, 295.
  7. Richard E. Bennett, Mormons of the Missouri, 1846-1852. “And Should We Die …” (Norman:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2004), No. 78.
  8. John D. Lee, Writings of John D. Lee, Samuel N. Henrie, ed., (Tucson, Arizona: Fenestra, 2002), 199.
  9. Ibid, 199-201.
  10. Nebraska State Historical Society. “Mormon Summer Quarters,“ 2006.
  11. John D. Lee, Journals of John D. Lee (1846-57, 1859), Charles Kelly, ed., Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984, 194-195.
  12. John D. Lee, Journals of John D. Lee (1846-57, 1859), Charles Kelly, ed., Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984, 163,
  13. Merri Allen Vinton, “Mormon Summer Quarters,” Washington County Historical Association, 1997.
  14. John D. Lee, Journals of John D. Lee (1846-57, 1859), Charles Kelly, ed., Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984, 194.
  15. John D. Lee, Journals of John D. Lee (1846-57, 1859), Charles Kelly, ed., Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984, 197.

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Winter Quarters

(Florence, Nebraska)

Winter Quarters Temple

Located in present-day Florence, Nebraska, Winter Quarters was one of the main settlements established by Latter-day Saints after their exodus from Nauvoo in 1846. The Winter Quarters settlement was divided into 23 wards. The Winter Quarters wards were only in place from 1846-1848, at which time the government required the Latter-day Saints, who were on Indian lands, to move back to the east side of the Missouri River.

Today the Winter Quarters Pioneer Cemetery is located next to the Winter Quarters Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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