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Iowa History Daily: February 15 - Mormons at Sugar Creek

Iowa History Daily: On February 15, 1846, Brigham Young and a group of nearly 2,000 Latter-day Saints braved subzero temperatures to arrive on Sugar Creek in Lee County, Iowa. The first wave of a major exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, on the way across Iowa and on toward the Great Basin in Utah.

While more Saints trickled in, the site served as a major staging and preparation site. Camping on the east side of the creek, Young gathered the followers into groups of 100 wagons and identified captains for each subgroup of ten wagons. While many waited, 100 volunteers formed an advance company to scout the trail to come on the westward journey.

For over a month, the freezing cold and winter conditions paired with sickness and death afflicted the Mormon group waiting to continue on from Sugar Creek. By March many of the already weary travelers finally started out again. Over the next 23 years over 70,000 Mormons passed through on the 1,300 mile journey.

Other towns, especially in Van Buren County, hosted the Nauvoo Militia Band (Pitt’s Brass Band), while also providing opportunities for the Latter-day Saints to earn money as they got started west. Other significant sites in Iowa including Locust Creek, Garden Grove, and Mount Pisgah still provide insights into Iowa’s Mormon Trail past. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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