The Mormon Trail Facts for Kids

  • The Mormon Trail is a trail that American Mormons took when they moved to Utah.
  • They were fleeing their place in Illinois because other people were hunting them.
  • Brigham Young proposed the trail and said it would be 1,300 miles long. He told them to walk for two months and create ‘winter quarters’.

Religious freedom is a constitutional right that Americans enjoy. Some groups in the past, though, have been denied this liberty. The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) were one such group in history. Keep reading to learn more Mormon Trail facts.

Massive religious revivals happened in the 1800s. People thought it was a necessary time to do this. They did a lot of preaching, and people were excited about it.

Many new Christian denominations came out of revivalism. Mormonism was one such group that grew and prospered.

The Mormons

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the official name for members of this religion. Joseph Smith, Jr., a young farm boy, established their church in Fayette Township, New York, in 1830. He initially named it the “Church of Christ.”

The tale of Joseph Smith begins with a vision he claims he had when he was 14 years old, in the late 1820s. God told him that other churches were wrong.

In 1823, Joseph Smith was visited in a dream by an angel named Moroni, who claimed to be the son of an ancient figure named Mormon. He told him about an old book that was buried on his hill.

Smith said that the following day, he went up to a hill, and Moroni was there. Smith tried to take the plates, but Moroni didn’t let him. Smith said he went back to the annual autumnal equinox but couldn’t find the treasure until 1827.

Joseph Smith translated the plates into a book that tells about an ancient time in America. The book is called the Book of Mormon, and it is another way of saying God’s word for members of our church. The church is different from other religions.

Things did not go well for Smith and his followers in western New York when he first established his religion. The people of Palmyra or Manchester did not like Smith’s teachings.

He realized that because there were not many people in this part of the state, he would not get many more people to be his followers. They then migrated to Kirtland, Ohio.

The Mormon Exile

The bronze statue in Heritage Park which represents the Mormon Trails.

Smith’s followers settled in Kirtland, Ohio. A revelation told him to go to Missouri. The vision told Smith that there were some American Indians there who believed what he believed.

He and some friends began to make a lot of Mormons in Independence, Missouri. They did this because of a revelation from Joseph Smith. The disclosure said that the Mormons should get money from people who were not Mormons.

This caused a lot of drama. The people in Missouri kicked the Mormons out. They had to move to other counties in Missouri.

Then the Mormon-Missouri War started. Smith used his army, the Danites, to fight against Missouri. Many people died, and Smith surrendered. He was in prison for six months.

While in prison, the state of Missouri made it so that all Mormons could not stay there. This led them to move to Illinois and create a town called Nauvoo. There were about 15,000 Mormons five years later in Nauvoo.

Smith was always suspicious of non-Mormons. He so wanted to protect himself that he organized the Nauvoo Legion, a group of like soldiers, but not using guns.

A newspaper called the Nauvo Expositor reported that Smith had received a revelation from God. He was told that it was okay for men to have more than one wife. This made Smith mad, and he destroyed the press.

He was then arrested in Carthage, Illinois. One day a mob stormed the prison and killed Joseph Smith.

Smith was the leader of the LDS. He didn’t have a successor. So Brigham Young became the new leader. The Mormon leader wanted to escape from the federal government. He also didn’t like non-Mormons. They left Nauvoo, which is in Illinois, and went to Utah, where they settled.

The Mormons made their home in Salt Lake Valley, which was then part of Mexico. After the US won the Mexican War, the Mormons were again part of the United States. The Mormon Church grew and became successful there.

The advanced LDS church has about 7 million members in the United States and another 8 million internationally.

The Mormon Trail

Brigham Young and the Mormos were forced to leave Nauvoo, Illinois. An advanced company, called the Pioneer Band, left Winter Quarters on their long journey to the Rocky Mountains.

The trip was 1,040 miles. This advanced company was to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley as early as possible for planting crops to feed the large numbers of Mormons that were coming behind them.

Young’s group travelled on the north side of the Platte River. They did this to avoid competition for food with emigrants that were travelling on the Oregon Trail.

The pioneers talked with different people who had different opinions about whether or not they should stay in the Salt Lake Valley. They had a strict way of doing things. They prayed at five in the morning, left for a twenty-mile march at seven, put the horses in a corral each night, and then prayed and went to bed at nine.

After crossing the Oregon Trail, the pioneers left it and followed Hastings Cutoff. Near the Bear River, Brigham Young got sick with mountain fever. Still, they continued to travel. Crossing the Loup River was difficult because of the quicksand and swift current.

On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young and the Pioneer Band arrived at what became Salt Lake City’s overlook. They immediately began to irrigate the desert, which was a difficult task.

In the following two decades, thousands of people gathered at Winter Quarters on the west bank of the Missouri River near Florence (now part of northeast Omaha). They then left to go to their land that they called “Milk and Honey.”

Some people chose to go west by oxen. Horses and mules could travel faster, but most people decided to go west with oxen. In the old days, oxen that pulled wagons across the country were just regular cows. They had been trained to pull under a yoke, which is what makes them different.

The pioneers who walked the Mormon Trail would need to be strong and courageous. They would also need to have faith. Hundreds of them died, but most were buried with no marker along the trail.

The Mormon trek west is characterized by several distinctions. To begin with, unlike many other pioneers, the Mormons migrated in large groups and carried out their journey in an exceptionally planned manner.

Brigham Young wrote a document about what people should do on the journey. He wrote that they should behave in different ways, and he also instructed how to organize everyone into companies.

Mormons helped people to cross the trail. They made way stations and planted crops for them. The Mormon migration was different from other migrations because most people who travelled were women and children.

Salt Lake City

Mormons endured a lot of suffering during their first few years in the Great Basin. Nonetheless, they did not stop. Their first and second winters were a hard time, with many people dying. They survived and also prospered.

They persisted and achieved, overcoming the dangers of weather and environment to create Salt Lake City. This is one of the best-planned cities in America. They have wide roads, big yards for gardens, and water planning.

The church owned the factories, mines, stores, industries, and a bank. They employed the masses of Mormon immigrants. Tithing (giving 10% of all money to the church) is when people give the church money. Mormons do this, and it makes them a different community.

The California Gold Rush brought a lot of money to the people in Salt Lake City. They set up stores in highly profitable places for people going west.

The Gold Rushers earned a lot of money. The Gold Rush also introduced the first significant groups of non-Mormon people to Salt Lake City, known as Gentiles.

What do Mormons Believe?

Mormonism shares some ideas with other Christian religions. One of these is that love for God and love for each other are the best things you can have.

Mormons believe in the Bible, but they also believe that there was another revelation after it called the Book of Mormon. Mormons are different because they believe in this new revelation.

Mormons believe there is a Father who loves everyone, his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Mormons also believe in modern prophets and that God will tell people more about what to do.

They believe that to repent and be baptized is essential. They also believe that people should worship God in their way.

In the Articles of Faith, people say that they believe in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. If these books are translated correctly, then they believe them.

Mormons believe that after someone dies, the spirit leaves the body for a time. They believe that at some point, someone will come to raise them from death. During this time, people who did not believe in God were separated from those who followed what they believed to be God’s word.

Read more Pioneer Facts


P.S. If you enjoyed what you read and are a teacher or tutor needing resources for your students from kindergarten all the way up to high school senior (or even adults!), check out our partner sites KidsKonnect, SchoolHistory, and HelpTeaching for hundreds of facts, worksheets, activities, quizzes, courses, and more!