An Early Mormon Settlement in South Dakota and the James Holt Family


Here is a link to an article from South Dakota History, pp. 120-131 that describes a settlement in South Dakota and the part James Holt and his family played there.

Information concerning the settlement comes mainly from six sources:

1. The documentary History of the Church by Joseph Smith is the official record of events that he recorded during his life.

2. Lyman Hinman, a member of the settlement, wrote a letter in 1847 to “Brother & Sister Taylor” in which he described his trip into South Dakota.

3. A six-page summary of the settlement experience was composed by William Kartchner, also a member of the group.”

4. A somewhat negative report of the company’s journey was written in 1847 from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, by a couple who had left the company before it arrived in South Dakota.

5. “The Reminiscences of James Holt,” written years later after Holt had arrived in Utah, was until recently the principal source of information on the settlement. Dale L. Morgan, in the Utah Historical Quarterly, quoted extensively from Holt’s journal and added excellent editorial comments and footnotes from Hinman, Kartchner, Nelson, and other related sources. This is the only printed account and appraisal of the expedition.

6. A new source, unknown to scholars until now, is possessed by Chauncey Riddle of Provo, Utah. His two great-grandfathers, Isaac Riddle and Allen Russell, both were members of the expedition to South Dakota and both wrote about it. The quite extensive Russell account presents a new view of the expedition that contradicts many parts of Holt’s journal. Russell recalls less hardship than Holt, and he is generally more optimistic about the expedition. Where Holt strongly implies resentment toward Brigham Young and Emmett, Russell is more sympathetic, quite able to justify and accept their decisions. The discovery of Russell’s journal, incidentally, permits the identification of several members of the company who previously were unknown. Special attention will be given in this article to the discrepancies between the Holt and Russell accounts. An attempt will be made to draw a truer and more complete picture of the purposes and events of the expedition and the conduct of its members.

The article can be viewed here:

An Early Mormon Settlement in South Dakota

Copyright © 1971 by the South Dakota State Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.

Click to access vol-01-no-2-an-early-mormon-settlement-in-south-dakota.pdf



About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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