As early as 1834, Joseph Smith saw the Church's eventual settlement in the Rocky Mountains. Many contemporary accounts, from members of the Church and others including Governor Ford of Illinois, tell of Joseph's prophecies and plans to move westward. In March 1844, Joseph organized a General Council, or the Council of Fifty, whose immediate responsibility was to plan the Saints' exodus. In the last few months of his life, Joseph was increasingly focused on the journey to the Great Basin. After the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the General Council, led by Brigham Young, made preparations for the Saints' departure. Joseph Smith laid the foundation for the successful immigration of the Saints to Utah.
Andrus, Hyrum L.
"Joseph Smith and the West,"
BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 2
, Article 3.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol2/iss2/3