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Latter-day Saint Exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois
In early February, 1846, under the direction of Brigham Young, a group of approximately 3,000 Latter-day Saints crossed the frozen Mississippi River and traveled across what is now the State of Iowa. This group was referred to as The Camp of Israel. After a very difficult four and a half month mid-winter journey on foot and in wagons, the Camp of Israel arrived on the banks of the Missouri River, which separated what are now the States of Iowa and Nebraska. The camp had travelled approximately 300 miles.

A second and much larger group of saints, numbering approximately 10,000 individuals departed Nauvoo between the months of April and early June. Due to more favorable weather conditions, this second group travelled much more quickly – arriving in the Missouri River Valley at about the same time as Brigham Young’s original group.

Though the early Mormon pioneers arrived in the Missouri River Valley tired and destitute, they viewed it as just another intermediate and very temporary stopping point on a journey that would eventually lead them to the Rocky Mountains. However, an interesting turn of events led Brigham Young, the Mormon leader to create a more substantial encampment that would serve the saints for almost two years.

A few short months after their arrival, on December 28, 1846, the Iowa Territory was granted statehood and officially joined the United States of America as the 29th state. However, Nebraska was at the time still considered Indian Territory being owned and controlled by the Pottawattamie and Omaha Indian Tribes. No settlements were officially allowed in the Indian Territory until the US Government created the Nebraska Territory in 1854. When the pioneers first arrived in 1846, the land west of the Missouri river was still designated as Indian Territory and thus unable to be inhabited by settlers.