A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Platte River’

Doniphan, Nebraska

Posted by graywacke on June 8, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2349; A Landing A Day blog post number 780.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (40o 47.818’N, 98o 23.112’W) puts me in Cen-SE Nebraska:

My local map shows my proximity to Doniphan:

Zooming back a little, and we can that Doniphan turns out to be suburban Grand Island:

We can also see that I landed in the Platte River watershed (69th hit).  Zooming back with a streams-only shot, we can see that the Platte (of course) makes its way to the Missouri (421st hit):

And, of course, the MM gobbles up another one, for its 914th hit.

It’s time to secure another Google Earth (GE) yellow pushpin into that great lower 48 bulletin board.  Click HERE to make it happen.

Did you see the major N-S road on your way in?  That’s U.S. 34, and yes, it has Street View coverage:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

And just north, US 34 crosses the Platte:

And here’s the view:

 Before talking about Doniphan, I’ll discuss something I noticed very close to my landing – “Mormon Island:”

There’s a “Mormon Island Recreation Area” that is featured on Rand McNally’s “Best of the Road” website.  Here’s an excerpt:

Mormon Island State Recreation Area sits near the site of an extraordinary passage in America’s history. In 1846 Brigham Young led a group of pioneer Mormons westward in search of a promised land in which to practice their new religion. They eventually settled in the Salt Lake region of Utah.

For decades after, other Mormons followed the route (which came to be known as the Mormon Trail) blazed by that first group. The 500-mile section of the Mormon Trail that passed through the state of Nebraska followed the north side of the Platte River and ran parallel to the Oregon Trail, which was on the river’s south side.

In the mid-1880s one of the last groups of Mormon emigrants stopped and set up winter camp at a site along the Platte River. Settlers in the area called the Mormon encampment “Mormon Island.” At winter’s end the group moved on, but the name stuck.

Mormon Island State Recreation Area sits on an island cradled between two arms of the Platte River.  It has a 46-acre lake at its center.

Hundreds of thousands of Sandhill cranes stop and rest at Mormon Island each spring. They begin to arrive in mid-February and their numbers peak in mid-to-late March.

Speaking of Sandhill Cranes, I found a couple of GE Panoramio shots by Chuck Leypoldt, taken a few miles upstream from Mormon Island:

I did a little research about the Mormon Trail and the Oregon Trail, in particular with regard to the assertion that the Mormon Trail was on the north side of the river and the Oregon Trail on the south.  This seemed a little rigid in my estimation – I imagine a sign saying “Mormons, Keep Right.”  (They usually do.)  Anyway, I read in several sources that state that both the Mormons and the non-Mormons used trails on either side of the river.

FYI, about 200 miles of I-80  follows the Platte River and the path of the two trails.

So, Wiki has little to say about Doniphan:

The town of Doniphan was platted in 1879 as a midway point between Hastings and Grand Island on the St. Joseph and Grand Island Railroad.  It was named for Col. John Doniphan of Saint Joseph, Missouri, an attorney for the railroad.

No surprise.  Yet another Great Plains town named for a railroad guy.  But JFTHOI, I Googled “John Doniphan.”  The first Google entry that pops up is for Alexander W. Doniphan, so I clicked.

Well, he is also from Missouri, so I figured the two were related.  Anyway, this about Alex:

Alexander William Doniphan (1808 – 1887) was an attorney, soldier and politician from Missouri who is best known today as the man who prevented the summary execution of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, at the close of the 1838 Mormon War.

I like his dishevelved look – locks of hair flying around, and a very loose tie.  Very unusual for a formal back-in-the-day portrait, eh?

Anyway, it turns out that I’ve discussed the Mormon War in a couple of earlier posts.  Here’s an excerpt from my Independence MO December 2009 post:

As persecution persisted in Ohio and other areas in the East, Joseph Smith suggested that some of the Saints settle in Missouri.  In 1831, Joseph Smith received a command [from God?] that they should buy as much land in the Jackson County area of Missouri as possible.  He also received revelation that Jackson County would be the site of the New Jerusalem at the time of the Second Coming.

In the spring of 1832, another 300-400 families arrived and the area began to rapidly prosper. By the end of 1832 there were over 800 Saints in Jackson County.  In July 1833, the peace the Saints were enjoying in Missouri ended suddenly. The first settlers of the area and other non-Mormons became afraid and suspicious of the Saints. They did not like the huge influx of people moving into the area that did not hold the same political, cultural, or religious ideas as them. By this time, there were nearly twelve hundred Saints in the area. The town of Independence also began to lose business at this time because a flood had caused the Missouri river to change its course. This was also blamed on the Mormons.

On July 20, four to five hundred non-Mormon citizens met at the courthouse in Independence. The meeting quickly turned into a mob that went searching for the leaders of the Church. Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen were tarred and feathered by the mob because they would not denounce the Book of Mormon.

Three days later, the mob returned again this time with guns, clubs, and whips. They burned fields and haystacks, and destroyed homes. Six leaders of the Church offered their lives in exchange for the safety of the rest of the members. Their offer was turned down and they were forced to sign an agreement that they would be out of the county by April 1, 1834.

Wild times, eh?  Here’s a quick summary of what happened after:  The Mormons left Independence, but not Missouri.  Tensions continued, culminating in the “1838 Mormon War.”  Twenty-one Mormons and one non-Mormon were killed, and Joseph Smith surrendered.  As a result, about 10,000 Missouri Mormons left and settled in Nauvoo, Illinois.  That’s where Joseph Smith was killed, and then Brigham Young led the flock out to Salt Lake.

And then, from my Gallatin MO Oct 2014 post:

You’ll have to trust me here.  I don’t seek out Mormon story lines.  I seek out interesting hooks that I can feature in my blog posts.  But I’ll tell you – it seems like over and over again, it’s a Mormon story that catches my interest.

Anyway, I recalled featuring the Mormon War in a previous post, and it turned out to be a December 2009 post on Independence Missouri.  Sufficeth it to say that the Joseph Smith-led Mormons settled in Missouri, but were booted out after the 1838 Mormon War.  They headed back east across the Mississippi and settled in Nauvoo, Illinois (featured in my May 2013 “West Point, Illinois” post).  Joseph Smith was killed in Illinois.  Brigham Young took over the reigns of leadership (in spite of a splinter group led by James Strang, featured in my August 2014 Charlevoix Michigan post), and led the crew out west to Salt Lake City.

So back to today and  Alexander Doniphan, from Wiki:

As a brigadier general in the Missouri Militia, Doniphan was ordered into the field with other forces to operate against the Mormons, even though he had worked diligently to avoid the conflict, and believed that the Mormons were largely acting in self-defense. After the surrender of the Mormon town of Far West, General Samuel Lucas took custody of Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders, and instituted a drumhead court martial, which declared Smith and the others guilty of treason, and ordered Doniphan to execute them.

[Quick aside, a “drumhead court martial” is held in the field to hear urgent charges of offences committed in action.  The term originates from the use of a drumhead as an improvised writing table.]

Doniphan indignantly refused to carry out the execution, saying: “It is cold blooded murder. I will not obey your order. . . . if you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God”.

The Mormon leaders were accordingly sent to Liberty Jail during the winter, to await trial during the following spring of 1839.  Doniphan was appointed as their defense attorney and energetically defended them at the risk of his good reputation and, in all probability, his life.

Ultimately, the church leaders were released from custody, and they subsequently made their way to the new Mormon settlement in Hancock County, Illinois, where Joseph Smith was killed in 1844. In Doniphan’s honor, Joseph and Emma Hale Smith named a son Alexander Hale Smith.

Alexander Doniphan remains highly esteemed by the Mormons for saving the life of Joseph Smith and other early church leaders. His story is routinely told in church literature and histories.

By the way, Emma Hale Smith was the first of Joseph Smith’s many (34) wives.  Emma and Joseph had 11 children, of which two were adopted.  Of the remaining 9, only five survived infancy, one of whom was Alexander.

And just for the record:  as far as anyone knows, Smith had no children from other wives. . .

Time for some GE Panoramio shots. But first, here’s a GE Street View shot of a sculpture at a rest area on I-80, just east of my landing:

Check out what a good photographer (with some photo shop) can do with the same sculpture (GE Pano shot by Juan234x):

Staying with Juan, here’s a shot from Mormon Island:

Staying with Mormon Island, here’s a shot by PGornell:

And one by Rick Wilbur:

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

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