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Kenneth Mays
Historical marker commemorates the site of the Kimball Camp or Mormons' First Camp.

Following the challenging winter of 1846-47 at Winter Quarters, Nebraska, the time came for the first pioneer company of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to begin its trek to find a permanent place to settle in the West. The first of what became hundreds of such settlements was the Salt Lake Valley.

Historical plaque on the marker commemorates the site of the Kimball Camp or Mormons' First Camp. | Kenneth Mays

By early April 1847, Brigham Young had decided who would make up that first group or pioneer camp, but problems, challenges and decisions kept demanding his attention and presence at Winter Quarters. Apparently frustrated by the delays, Heber C. Kimball led a group of six wagons west from Winter Quarters on April 5, 1847. They camped for two nights near the present-day intersection of Bennington Road and 69th Street in the northern region of the Greater Omaha area (see "Sacred Places, Vol. 5," edited by LaMar C. Berrett, William Hartley and Gary Anderson).

Brigham Young and others left to join Heber Kimball two days later, but quickly returned to Winter Quarters upon learning that Parley P. Pratt had just arrived from England and that John Taylor was not far behind with some important instruments needed for the trek west. Exhausted and wanting to be with their families, Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor declined to join Brigham Young and the pioneer company in that first group (see Richard E. Bennett's, "We’ll Find the Place").

There is now a small vertical marker at the site commemorating that first camp of Heber C. Kimball. It was placed by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers in 1947.

Kenneth Mays is a board member of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and a retired instructor in the LDS Church’s Department of Seminaries and Institutes.