Winter Quarters (Florence), Nebraska
Site of Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball homes
Section 136
January 1847
"Let all the people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and those who journey with them, be organized into companies, with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord our God.
"If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
Winter Quarters was a place of great suffering and sorrow, but also of magnificent faith and testimony. "If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful."
Doctrine and Covenants 136:2, 28-29
"My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom.
"Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear;
"For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly."
Doctrine and Covenants 136:31-33
Kimball Row consisted of 13 adjacent cabins that were located in this area. Heber C. Kimball lived at one end, and Newel K. Whitney at the other. Much of the revelation was received during a meeting in the home of Elder Kimball. Later that evening, the meeting continued in the home of Ezra Benson.
Key Events
After the death of Joseph Smith, the Twelve Apostles led the Church under the direction of Brigham Young, who was the senior Apostle. Mobs forced the exodus of Church members from Nauvoo in February 1846.
By the end of 1846, more than 5,000 displaced saints had gathered on the western bank of the Missouri River at a place they called Winter Quarters of the Camp of Israel.
At the request of the U.S. Government, about 500 Church members had joined the U.S. Army to march for California in the Mexican War. The Mormon Battalion proved a great blessing to the Church, though the families of the soldiers faced many hardships without the immediate support of their loved ones.
Hundreds died from exposure at Winter Quarters, as Church leaders prepared to continue leading the saints to the Rocky Mountains.
Brigham Young led the vanguard company of pioneers who departed Winter Quarters in early 1847, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of that year.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Brigham Young and Willard Richards adjourned to the Octagon to finish writing the revelation. The home of President Young and the Octagon stood in this vicinity. The latter structure was a unique building owned by Willard Richards, often used for church meetings.
Words of Brigham Young
"We were migrating, we knew not whither, except that it was our intention to go beyond the reach of our enemies. We had no homes, save our wagons and tents, and no stores of provisions and clothing; but had to earn our daily bread by leaving our families in isolated locations for safety, and going among our enemies to labor." (Journal of Discourses 2:173-174)
"I do not wish men to understand I had anything to do with our being moved here [Salt Lake City], that was the providence of the Almighty; it was the power of God that wrought out salvation for this people, I never could have devised such a plan." (Journal of Discourses 4:41)
"God has shown me, that this is the spot [Salt Lake City] to locate his people, and here is where they will prosper; he will temper the elements to the good of the Saints; he will rebuke the frost and the sterility of the soil, and the land shall become fruitful, . . . and we shall build a city and a temple to the most high God in this place. We will extend our settlements to the east and west, to the north and to the south, and we will build towns and cities by the hundreds, and thousands of the Saints will gather in from the nations of the earth. This will become the great highway of nations . . . " (Autobiography of James S. Brown, 121-122)
Six months after receiving this revelation, Brigham Young and a company of pioneers entered the Great Salt Lake Valley. Gazing at its wide expanse, Brigham declared, "This is the right place." The Church was finally able to build a permanent establishment in the top of the mountains.
Copyright 2005 Steve Mortensen. All rights reserved.