Appendix 2: Council of Fifty, Minutes, 27 February 1845
Council of Fifty, Minutes, , IL, 27 Feb. 1845; handwriting of ; six pages; Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 1839–1877, CHL. Includes redactions. Three loose leaves, measuring 5⅞ × 8 inches (15 × 20 cm); 7¼ × 7¾ inches (18 × 20 cm); and 6½ × 8 inches (17 × 20 cm), respectively. Bullock’s docket on page 6 reads: “Feb 27. 1845 | Meeting of the Twelve & others | in the Recorder’s office”.
On 27 February 1845 the council convened to discuss the group of Mormons that had followed west from and into . A member of Emmett’s company, Moses Smith, had recently returned to Nauvoo bearing information about the company, and recorded that “the Twelve & others, mostly of the Council repaird to my office” with him. Since council clerk was ill, , a church clerk who was not a member of the council, recorded the minutes featured here. Because these minutes were kept separately, they were never copied into the Council of Fifty record books kept by Clayton, nor does it appear that Clayton used these minutes when providing a summary of the meeting in the record books. For the historical context in which these minutes were recorded, see the entry for 27 February 1845 in the main body of this volume.
Richards, Journal, 27 Feb. 1845. In his journal Heber C. Kimball erroneously dated this meeting to 28 February but recorded, “Held a council at Elder Richards on the case of Emit and Smith.” (Kimball, Journal, 28 Feb. 1845.)
Kimball, Heber C. Journals, 1837–1848. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL.
Febry 27. 1845— Council in office—
the ob[jec]t. is— has a Co. [company] of 35 fam[ilies] in , to go into the Wilderness— Moses Smith knows all ab[ou]t. them— we can control them yet— is out of our control— he has flung himself out of the Priesthood— he wants to do, what the Lord wants us to do— bring the lost sheep back— & save this Co.— he has dec[ide]d. not to live among the Gentiles— let them live there & preserve themselves— so as to protect them, & keep the Priesthood— my feelings are to save them— if they come back, they will be rec[eive]d.— we have dropt & —
went according to my council— I never lisped this to any one yet— he will see me again & report to me— he will do a good work yet— is acquainted with nearly all the tribes, & he can take a company right from here to the Pacific— the Flat Heads have 200,000 warriors— ano[the]r. tribe 180 & anr. 150,000 they want Mormonism— we want some to stay among them as missionaries—
says the report only abt. 2 or 300,000— & also reported the speechs of Sacs & Foxes— who are dissatisfied— we can now make a virtue— unite our teams & plow with Ephraim as well as the Gentiles—
[Moses] Smith, <is> fully satisfied that a majority of the Co. would be councilled by the 12. if the Council is to stop, they will, or go on just as ordered— we are above the Sacs & Foxes where there is game— I suppose 160 miles N.W. from here— I supposed that had an appointment & by the 12—
s[ai]d. talked as plain as any man could— & accused him of stealing from the Gentiles, & he denied it— he sd. he wo[ul]d. not be councilled— “I cant come back” he was not willing to be gov[erne]d. by the Council if men will not go according to Council, they will go to the devil— he went to work & deceived man [p. ]
In his autobiography Butler explained that Emmett attempted to get the Butlers to leave with his company in September 1844, but they refused. After receiving negative reports about the company in December 1844, Young reportedly told Butler that “there is some good people in the company and I hate to see him carrying them to distructian and it must not be[,] for you must go and save them from distructian.” Butler explained that he followed the instructions and “went up the river to the camp and stayd with them.” (Hartley, My Best for the Kingdom, 407.)
Hartley, William G. My Best for the Kingdom: History and Autobiography of John Lowe Butler, a Mormon Frontiersman. Salt Lake City: Aspen Books, 1993.
It is unclear where these population estimates originated, but they are highly exaggerated. A U.S. government report estimated that there were fewer than three hundred thousand American Indians in the entirety of Oregon territory and all the land west of the Mississippi and east of the Rocky Mountains. The Flathead tribe was estimated to have a population of only eight hundred. (Congressional Globe, Appendix, 28th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 180–181 .)
The Congressional Globe, Containing Sketches of the Debates and Proceedings of the Second Session of the Twenty-Eighth Congress. Vol. 14. Washington DC: Blair and Rives, 1845.
Other members of Emmett’s company also later claimed that they believed Emmett had been acting under the authority of the Quorum of the Twelve. (James Nelson and Rebecca Nelson, “A Memorandom of the Proceedings of Emets Company,” 10 May 1847, CHL; Bennett, “Mormon Renegade,” 219–220.)
Nelson, James, and Rebecca Nelson. “A Memorandom of the Proceedings of Emets Company,” 10 May 1847. CHL.
Bennett, Richard E. “Mormon Renegade: James Emmett at the Vermillion, 1846.” South Dakota History 15, no. 3 (Fall 1985): 217–233.