28 July 1856 – Leaving Iowa City – Mary Taylor


During their stay in the Iowa camp, the emigrants employed themselves in making carts and doing other preparatory work until July 28th, when the camp broke up, and the handcart portion moved off, nearly a mile for a start, and then camped again. (From Historical Department Archives, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

From John Jacques:

As only a very limited amount of baggage could be taken with the handcarts, during the long stay on the Iowa City camping ground, there was a general lightening of such things as could best be done without. Many things were sold cheaply to residents of that vicinity, and many more things were left on the camping ground for anybody to take or leave at his pleasure. It was grievous to see the heaps of books and other articles thus left in the sun, rain and dust, representing a respectable amount of money spent therefore in England, but thenceforth, a waste and dead loss to the proper owners. The company was divided into Hundreds and Tens, with their respective captains as usual with the “Mormon” emigration of those days. Many of the carts had wooden axles and leather boxes. Some of the axles broke in a few days, and mechanics were busy in camp at night repairing the accidents of the days.


8 July 1856 – Iowa City – Mary Taylor

Autobiography of Elizabeth White Steward

When we completed our journey to Iowa City, we were informed that we would have to walk four miles to our camping ground. All felt delighted to have the privilege of a pleasant walk. We all started, about 500 of us, with our bedding. We had not gone far before it began to thunder and lighten and the rain poured. The roads became very muddy and slippery. The day was far advanced and it was late in the evening before we arrived at the camp. We all got very wet. The boys soon got our tent up so we were fixed for the night, although very wet.

Autobiography of Heber Robert McBride

We went from Boston to Chicago then to Rock Island, crossed the river on a steamboat, because the railway bridge was burned down. After we all got over, we took the train for Iowa City. When we got there and our baggage was unloaded, it was getting late in the day, and our camping ground was 3 miles from the city, as there was no place at the depot large enough to accommodate so many people. So a great many of the people started for camp on foot just about dark and I was one of them. But we had not gone very far when it began to rain and was so dark that you could not see anything and to make things worse I got lost from the rest of the company, but made out to keep the road by the help of the lightning, for Iowa can beat the world for thunder and lightning, but I never was afraid of lightning. After ascending a steep hill I could see a fire at the camp. They was keeping a big fire burning for to let the people know where the camp was for there was a great many people waiting there to get their teams and wagons ready to start across the plains.

When I saw the fire, I started in a straight line for it and that is where I missed it. Not knowing anything about the country, I thought that would be the best way. The rain had quit after it wet [p.8] me through, there not being a dry thread. After wading through numerous pools of water from ankle deep to knee deep and wallowing through grass as high as my head, I managed to reach camp pretty near give out. But after all my bad luck I was there before quite a number of the company. Father and mother and the children arrived after me. 2 of the children, being small, had to be carried most all the way. But when they got to camp, they found an old friend, James Fisher, from Scotland. Him and father was playmates together and had not seen each other for a number of years. He took us to his tent to stay all night. I don’t know how long they sat up and talked, but after supper I soon fell asleep. This was my first night in a tent.

Journal of Peter Howard McBride

The night we arrived in Iowa, there was the worst storm I ever have experienced, thunder, lightning, rain coming down in torrents. There were wagons to take our bedding and luggage to camp three miles away, but we had to walk. Parents lost their children and children their parents, but we finally got settled in tents for the night, but were all glad when morning came as the sun was shining brightly.