Independent historian David L. Bigler is a Utah native, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, and a University of Utah graduate in journalism. He received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Southern Utah State College at Cedar City, now Southern Utah University. He retired as director of public affairs for U.S. Steel in 1986 to devote full time to Mormon and western history. He is a fellow and an honorary life member, Utah State Historical Society; a former director, Utah State Board of History and Friends of University of Utah Libraries; and past president, Oregon-California Trails Association. His books and articles have won awards from the Utah State Historical Society, Westerners International and The Mormon History Association. His books include The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith, University of Utah Press, 1990; Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847-1896, Arthur H. Clark, 1998; Army of Israel: Mormon Battalion Narratives, with Will Bagley, Arthur H. Clark, 2000; A Winter with the Mormons: The 1852 Letters of Jotham Goodell, Marriott Library, University of Utah, 2001; Fort Limhi: The Mormon Adventure in Oregon Territory, 1855-1857, Arthur H. Clark, 2003; and, with Will Bagley, Innocent Blood: Essential Narratives of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Arthur H. Clark, 2008. He and his wife, Evah, reside in Roseville, California.
Fort Limhiby David L. Bigler
In 1855 the Mormons established a mission at the foot of famous Lemhi Pass near Salmon River, where the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery first crossed the Continental Divide and Sacagawea was reunited with her brother. Fort Limhi was, at first, part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' outreach to the Indians throughout the West. But the mission
In 1855 the Mormons established a mission at the foot of famous Lemhi Pass near Salmon River, where the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery first crossed the Continental Divide and Sacagawea was reunited with her brother. Fort Limhi was, at first, part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' outreach to the Indians throughout the West. But the mission soon assumed a critical role in Brigham Young's plans for the Saints as they faced the imminent confrontation with the U.S. government which came to be known as the Utah War.
Fort Limhi: The Mormon Adventure in Oregon Territory is an innovative account of a fascinating but forgotten story.
Journals, diaries, letters and recollections of the men and women who served at the mission during the three years of its existence provide a wealth of information about native history and culture in eastern Idaho. The Mormon missionaries intentionally selected a spot that put them at the crossroads of ancient trails used by Nez Percé, Shoshone, Bannock, and Flathead bands as they battled each other and pursued their annual pilgrimages to trade, harvest salmon, and hunt buffalo. The sources also cast important light on little-known trails followed by Indians, traders, and emigrants.
Ordinary western folk who survived an extraordinary exploit tell their stories in their own words, and these narratives are dramatic, compelling, ironic, enlightening, and downright fun. With its astonishing fish stories, desperate Indian battles, life-threatening chases, and heroic rides to rescue a terrified and helpless outpost, this work has all the elements of a great frontier novel. It even tells of the star-crossed love of Lewis Shurtliff and Louisa Moore, whose romance, like the story of Fort Limhi, came to a tragic ending.
Historians often seemed baffled by Brigham Young's visit to Fort Limhi in 1857 while the fires of the Mormon Reformation burned in Utah and the territory's relationship with the federal government was collapsing. Young's trip was far more than a vacation for his family and advisors. As award-winning author David Bigler reveals, the Salmon River Indian Mission played a pivotal role in the resolution of the Utah War of 1857-1858. The catastrophe that ended the colony at Fort Limhi brought Utah back from the very brink of war with the United States.
Fort Limhi provides new material on the obscure fur-trade veterans and misfits who called themselves "mountaineers" (the contemporary term for that "majority of scoundrels" now known as the fearless "Mountain Men") and sheds light on their contentious relations with their Mormon neighbors.
The story of Fort Limhi has long deserved a larger role in the history of Idaho and Montana. It provides new insights into the role of Mormons in the West and their Indian relations, and explains some long-standing puzzles about the Utah War of 1857-1858.
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