When the Mormon people began evacuating Nauvoo, Illinois, in February 1846, they intended to leave the United States and build a home for themselves in the West, where they could practice their religion without persecution. However, as Brigham Young led thousands through severe rain and mud that spring, he soon decided that too many of the Saints were unprepared for the long journey to the mountains. Mormons built way stations across Iowa, places where they planted crops, raised log cabins, and obtained the necessary food and supplies. After the Saints moved on to Utah in following years, many of these way stations became permanent towns in Iowa. As the first way station Mormons established in Iowa, Garden Grove created a pattern for the other way stations that followed. An exhaustive study of over three hundred sources has provided the information necessary to create a database of the settlers of the town from 1846 to 1852. This study has found that the mortality rate was high the first year, but death was not a significant problem later. The fertility rate was exceptionally high, demonstrating that the way stations were heavily populated by families awaiting the birth of a child. The nativity of the people showed that the LDS and non-LDS settlers came from the same cultural background, mostly New England and the Midwest, and further study revealed that those not of the Mormon faith were friends and family of the Saints. Economically, the original Garden Grove settlers were the poorest of the Mormons coming out of Nauvoo, but by 1870, their mean wealth was above the average wealth of pioneers in Utah. The Garden Grove Saints created a settlement to help themselves and other Mormons. In the process, they improved trails and supplied food and services to overlanders that assisted in the settlement of the American West.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History



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Garden Grove, Iowa, way stations, Mormon, pioneers, trail, demographic, economic



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