"if you can't hide your skeletons, at least make them dance"
Lemhi County GenWeb Project
Photo by Larry Prescott
The History of Fort Lemhi
In April 07, 1856 Joseph Harker was set apart by Parley P. Pratt for a mission at Fort Lemhi, in Idaho, leaving behind him two wives and twelves children, with 100 lbs of bread stuff to keep them until he returned from his mission. Joseph left Salt Lake City for Fort Lemhi April 14th. April 16 while in Ogden City he traded his team of horses for a yoke of oxen and a cow.
On Joseph's trip to Fort Lemhi he camped at the following places, camped at William Mewers, Bear Mill, Ogden City, Bingham Fort, Brigham City, Stopped at Lewis Whites, Bear River, Malad Springs, camped at head of Malad Valley, camped at the head of Malad Waters, Banac [Bannack ?]Creek, Banac Creek again, Parssnif[?] River, [Portneuf River in Pocatello?] Snake River, crossing the Snake River wagon box turned over in the river and they camped on a sand bar in the middle of the Snake, crossing the Snake River, crossed the Snake River in the afternoon, camped on the Snake River, camped on the Snake again, and camped again on the Snake, Madison Legg, Mud Lake, Spring Creek, Spring Creek again, camped on Millers Creek, next four nights camped on Salmon River, Arrived at Fort Lemhi the following day.
June 01, 1856, the grasshoppers came and destroyed most of their crops, June 15, replanted wheat. June 30 heavy frost cut corn and vines down. Digging mill seats for grit mill.
July 16, "I am sick today, I have lived mostly on boiled corn for four weeks and at work I am so weak and I have spit blood for some days, I have nothing to eat but a bit of butter-milk cheese". July 18, I was sick in bed all day, at noon I had a biscuit sent me and a cup of tea. July 28th frost on the bottoms cut the vines and potatoes. After harvesting the wheat doing the fall plowing.
October 16, 1856 Joseph Harker and three other missionaries left Fort Lemhi to return to Salt Lake for the winter. October 24, met company going to Fort Lemhi, received 2 letters from my family, they was without shoes and one child was dead. November 04, arrived home at 1 o'clock a.m.
April 1857 Apr 01, traveled 5 miles and crossed the divide and camped on Banack Creek, cattle went back ten miles during the night. April 14, we traveled 24 miles and camped on Spring Creek, we had no feed nor water through the day and some of our cattle gave out. April 17, four men started for Fort Lemhi for help. April 19, we traveled 13 miles, ten yoke of oxen arrived after dark. April 22 traveled 14 miles and camped in Fort Lemhi.
April 25, we organized a guard to guard the fort. May 08, this morning we had five inches of snow on the ground, President Young and company arrived from Salt Lake Valley, along with Kimble, Hyde, Snow, and F.D. Richards they gave counsel to bring our families and marry the squaws.
May 13, President Young and company left for home. Blessed the Saints.
May 17 I was at meeting, Brother Smith said the Brethren had got to bring their families. May 23, I was making ox yokes. In the evening we drew lots for our farms that had been laid out. May 25 commenced cutting logs to build a log cabin. June 01, I was watering the garden. I am lame in my arm and commenced to write a history of my life. June 04, I was at fast meeting. It was reported that Indian Thos killed by the Indians. June 10, Eight of us started to the mountains, to hunt a silver mine, traveled 25 miles. Jun 16, I was hauling House logs. The Indians met together today to make a treaty of peace with each other. June 18, I was building my house. This morning a company left here to fetch their families. June 23 it is reported that there is five hundred Black Feet Indians in these mountains waiting to kill off the Banacks Indians. July putting roof on cabin and hauling rock for chimney. Mowing and hauling hay, cleaning and salting fish. August, cutting and thrashing wheat, we raised about 4000 bushels of wheat. September 19, John Priest has made 5 quarts of molasses, the first made in Fort Lemhi. Went bear hunting, shot a yearling bear four times. September 26, Black Feet Indians stole my horse and 21 more horses, from the Fort.
October 16, two of the Brethren left here for Salt Lake so to meet the Company. The Indians is getting (sa) [savage?] and predict our fort will be burned up.
Unknown to Joseph on October 19th his son Joshua from his second wife died in Taylorsville, this was his second child to die while he was on his mission at Fort Lemhi, the first to die was Ann E. Harker, which died just a year before, just as he was coming home for the winter, The two children that died were brother and sister to Eliza Ann Harker, children from Joseph's 2nd wife.
An Indian brought word that the soldiers were coming to Salt Lake Valley. October 20, our Captain of the fort Bro. Smith came in from Salt Lake, he brought the news that President Young has declared our independence.
October 27, 1857, Two Hundred men entered Fort Lemhi that had been sent from Salt Lake City to bring the settlers in the Salmon River Mission back. October 28, in the afternoon we left Fort Lemhi for Salt Lake City, we traveled 7 miles. Fort Lemhi was abandoned; all their labor and effort were for naught. This was due to the fact that 2500 soldiers were marching on Salt Lake City.
From the Book Illustrated Stories from Church History published by PROMISED LAND PUBLICATIONS volume 15, page 18 reads: "In the emergency the Church Leaders felt the necessity of calling home all of the apostles and missionaries and certain of the Saints on Settlement missions. Elders Amasa Lyman and Charles C. Rich were instructed to break up the San Bernardino [California} settlement and bring the people back to Utah. Similarly Elder Orson Hyde, in charge of the Carson Valley Saints, was to see that those Saints returned to aid in the defense. Before leaving southern California, the San Bernardino Saints purchased a large supply of weapons and ammunition. Thanks to Rod E Meyers for providing this information.
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