[Illustration: SALT LAKE VALLEY IN 1847.]
A conference was held in the bowery on Sunday, August 22nd, where considerable business was attended to. The Salt Lake Stake of Zion was organized, with John Smith as president. It was shortly after this that President Young and his company went back to Winter Quarters.
The next addition to the settlement was the Mormon Battalion from California.
At the coming of winter all moved into the fort. That season the winter was mild, so quite an amount of work was done outside.
The spring of 1848 opened with fine prospects ahead. Five thousand acres of land were planted, and the grain was growing rapidly; but another trial was at hand. In May and June great swarms of crickets came from the mountains and began to devour every growing thing. The settlers fought them as best they were able, but what could be done with such countless millions of insects! It seemed hopeless. Their crops were fast disappearing, and with them their means of living through the next year. Remember, they were a thousand miles from any other people, with mountains and deserts between them. They could not get food from other places. They would have to raise it or to starve.
When they had about given up hope, there came great flocks of white birds from the lake. They settled on the fields and began eating the crickets. They would eat all they were able, then vomit, and eat again. This they did day after day until the crickets were destroyed and part of the crop was saved.
[Illustration: IN THE OLD FORT.]
That fall President Young with the main body of Saints arrived from the East. There were now about five thousand people in the valley, and prospects were not very encouraging, owing to the small crop raised. Food was scarce, as also was clothing. Many people lived for weeks on “greens” and the roots of the sego and thistle. A kind of soup was made by cooking raw-hides. Yet in the midst of these times Heber C. Kimball declared in a public meeting that it would not be three years before “states goods” would be sold in Salt Lake cheaper than in St. Louis. No one at that time could see how it could be possible, but the prophecy was fulfilled within a year, and it was in this way: That winter gold was discovered in California, and early the next summer great companies of men came flocking from the east on their way to the gold mines. Salt Lake City was a sort of half way house. These gold seekers were heavily laden with all manner of goods, but being anxious to get to California as soon as possible they traded to the people in Salt Lake City their goods for lighter wagons, fresh horses, etc. Thus a great deal of merchandise was brought to the valley, and Brother Kimball’s prophecy was fulfilled.
The city had now been laid out into blocks, and lots were given to the settlers. Some built houses and moved in that fall, but most of the people remained in the fort until the spring of 1849.