Comments about ‘When Mormon pioneers left was often a life-or-death proposition’

Return to article »

Published: Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:40 a.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
BYU Track Star
Los Angeles, CA

Thanks for the Story Des News. I had a pioneer family member who became a Cholera Statistic. I read the Family Story for that branch. That Family crossed the Atlantic Ocean made it as far as Illinois in a wagon and then the Husband succumbed to Cholera. Wow, Dead in 6 hours. Sheesh, and I was worried about the Ebola virus. Double-Sheesh!

Provo, UT

40.25% died from Cholera, but another 9.21% died from "diarrhea", which is a key symptom of cholera, and another 6.14% from "sickness". Sounds to me like around 55% actually died from cholera.

So a revelation warned the Saints to stay away from tea, coffee and alcohol, but no revelations to prevent cholera and save over 200 lives?

san antonio, TX

"So a revelation warned the Saints to stay away from tea, coffee and alcohol, but no revelations to prevent cholera and save over 200 lives?"

The mere act of boiling water for tea or coffee would have saved lives. One of the reasons for beer brewing and wine making was imbibers tended not to sicken from contaminated water.

San Diego, CA

What would happen if the real hardships of these pioneers went "viral" ? Thanks for all of the research.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Interesting that germ theory & drinking clean water didn't make it in to the WoW as you would think it would have.
Drinking boiled water (cofee/tea) would have saved them.

Murray, UT

@dan76 - Your attempt to mock the revelation called The Word of Wisdom is pretty shallow. The pioneers were instructed to bring along coffee on the pioneer trail. But since coffee is diuretic it can cause dehydration leading to more consumption of water.

According to statistics, the wine-bibbing pioneers on the Oregon Trail fared much worse with a mortality rate of 4% to 6%

"It has been estimated that the overall mortality rate on the Oregon-California Trail was 4 to 6 percent of those starting west."
[Peter D. Olch, "Treading the Elephant's Tail: Medical Problems on the Overland Trails". Overland Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, 1988. Pp. 25-31.]

king haroldbluetooth
sandy, UT

IM LDS 2 & Ernest

Wrong! WOW wasn't adopted until much later on. I believe it became an official requirement in the 1940's. Weak attempt. Do your homework next time.

There You Go Again
Saint George, UT

I appreciate all the wonderful research regarding mortality statistics on the Mormon trail.

However, when I have the honor of meeting my ancestors who risked their lives to come to Utah, the last thing I will have on my mind is a litany of why did you do this or why didn't you do that.

I'm forever grateful for their sacrifice as well as their obedience in doing that which was asked of them.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

King harold: The WoW, section 89 was written by JS, a long time before the pioneers left Nauvoo.

Aurora, CO

If memory serves, cholera was also a big problem in Far West. The Saints had the decision of stay in Far West, with dwindling resources and sickness and all, or go west and deal with the issues on the trail. Remember, they also used buffalo chips for fuel, and sometimes the same person gathering fuel also prepared dinner.....

The Lord doesn't always get into the details. He gives commandments and guidance, i.e Word of Wisdom, and allows the Saints to chose. WoW wasn't accepted as a commandment until the early 1900s, long after the pioneers and Brigham Young and handcarts and all that, and until then the Saints had breweries, taverns and wine-making as part of life in the Salt Lake valley.

Jeremiah S
Hamilton, OH

I hate to tell you this, King Harold, but the WoW was not part of the temple recommend interview until 1909.

"In the early part of the twentieth century, the custom of abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea grew in significance. As a result, it was decided in 1909 to make abstinence from such things mandatory for “all who enter the temple.”

(2011-03-22). The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History (Kindle Locations 433-435). Signature Books. Kindle Edition.

Maryville, MO

Ernest T Bass: Joseph actually didn't write any of the revelations as given but had them transcribed while he spoke the revelation as it was received. Secondly, the Word of Wisdom during Joseph Smith's lifetime and not until well after the Saints had entered the Salt Lake Valley came as a commandment. It was then that Brigham Young basically said that now that the Saints have had time to understand the Word of Wisdom revelation that they should live it as well. It was approved by 100% common consent by the Saints present in around the 1850's. It was later to become one of the questions required of the Lord to enter into HIS house, the Temple.

Also, for LDS 2 and others you know full well that the Word of Wisdom may cover many things pertaining to health but it is a slothful servant who MUST BE COMMANDED in all things.

sandy, ut

king haroldbluetooth

So when the revelation was given to Joseph Smith in the mid 1800's it wasn't valid? Why would he reveal I then only to wait many years to actually make it a temple question? It doesn't make sense. Either way, it is strange that god couldn't give a simple revelation to boil water, that would have saved many lives. That only confirms that they were not led by revelation, but by men. Industrious men, smart men, brave men, - but not men that had revelations from god.

Harwich, MA

A little more clarity on the WoW. When the saints came in the valley and Brigham started to colonize the entire state he sent saints specifically to different areas (St. George) to grow coffee, tea and grapes for wine for the members consumption. When it became obvious that these crops wouldn't grow in Utah Brigham then declared that if the saints couldn't produce what they needed he wouldn't depend on "outsiders" to supply them with their needs and called off the project. The early ZCMI store carried tobacco, wine, beer and spirits that the saints partook of regularly until the 1940's. Brigham himself was a daily partaker of tobacco, coffee and alcohol.
This is just history. But not published very often.

Maryville, MO

"The smart ones stayed back east and waited for the railroad." What utter nonsense that statement is. The smart ones followed the words of a prophet and gathered to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Many coming with just the bare essentials but they came. Yes, some died on the trek but they continued to come. The railroad was still in its infancy and the dream of going over the mountains was even started until after the Civil War. No the smart ones left behind their old ways and travelled great distances to gather to the valley. Today the gather to the Stakes of Zion and many are pioneers in their own right. So what if some died on the way. They paid the ultimate sacrifice for what they believed in and were looking for a better life. They forged across the plains in wagons and hand carts both old and young. They did it because they followed the promptings of the Spirit and did so, some without a thought before hand. They came and even today they come. No hollowed hand will stop the work of the Lord.

layton, UT

RE: Brahmabull,"when the revelation was given to Joseph Smith in the mid 1800's it wasn't valid?"

True, after all Wine(oinos) was used by. Melchizedek, Gen 14:18. Isaac Gen 27:25. Jesus 2:1-11, He turns water into wine not wine into water And Mt 11:19.. Timothy 1Tim 5:23. Mogen David is popular for the Jewish Passover in modern times. MT 9:17, Mark 2:22 fermentation.

Wine (gleukos)denotes “sweet” new wine. Acts 2:13 where the accusation shows that it was intoxicant and must have been undergoing fermentation.

Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.(Mt 15:11)

Salt Lake City/Salt Lake County, UT

I too am researching the subject of death on the Mormon trail. My preliminary findings are that there were far more than 56,000 pioneers and far, far more than the suggested 1,900 deaths. I have seen other estimates as high as 6,000 deaths and I believe the total exceeded that figure. A large percentage of the families I've researched experienced one or more deaths along the trail or shortly thereafter. Allen Roberts

Salt Lake City, UT

"According to statistics, the wine-bibbing pioneers on the Oregon Trail fared much worse with a mortality rate of 4% to 6%"

Oregon is farther away than Utah, do those stats account for differences in journeys?


Brahmabull: "That only confirms that they were not led by revelation, but by men"

If you are that easily convinced, I have some prime vacation property in western Utah I would love to sell to you. It's a bargain!!!

Maryville, MO

If some wants to check the claims of Dennis pertaining to Brigham Young you will find that by the time he died that he had was able to abstain from everything the Word of Wisdom asked of the Latter Day Saints to do. There is a lot of information on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints official site that counters everything most of the critics above state about Brigham Young and the Word of Wisdom. It is much more enlightening than the old rubbish that is constantly posted by our critics. It also proves that revelation is continuing especially as the Word of Wisdom covers almost anything if you actually read and study it.

As for the trip many of the problems encountered along the trail were new. Cholera could also be contracted inside small communities and other places not totally reserved for the trail. Some of the information in the survey may seem low but overall the LDS records are much more accurate sometimes than the first hand reports. Remember there was record keeping going on even then as it is today. Statistics can be swayed however one pleases.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments