The Mormon Pioneer Trail
William Ivers Appleby
The dotted red lines on some of today's road maps still indicate the historic routes of the Oregon Trail
and the Mormon Pioneer Trail. No such detailed map assisted the travelers in the mid-1800's, but, they knew
the route to their destinations and the miles traveled each day by using a trail-map, referred to by the Pioneers
as "Clayton's Guide". Their way was guided by spectacular mountain landmarks and the life-giving rivers.
In Southwestern Wyoming the Trails parted company. The Oregon Trail turning toward the Northwest
territory, while the Mormon Trail veered to the South to the developing City beside the Great Salt Lake.
From a Journal, well-kept by William Ivers Appleby, a Councilor, General Clerk and Journalist, for a
Mormon wagon-train, it is learned he, his wife and their children were at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1849, as
they prepared to join the wagon train destined for their "City of the Saints" in Utah Territory.
William, the fourth son of Jacob and Mary (Lukers) Appleby, was born the 13th of August 1811, near the
village of New Egypt, Monmouth County, New Jersey. His Methodist parents and paternal grandparents,
Thomas and Hannah Appleby, were of English descent.
His father, Jacob, served several years in the elected office of Supervisor of the Public Highway. Along
with a thriving Oyster vending business, Jacob raised his nine children on a small farm. Mrs. Appleby's first
husband was John Hopkins, by whom she had several children. Jacob Appleby died in 1829.
Self-taught with only three years of formal schooling, William Ivers Appleby taught school for several
years, served as a Justice of the Peace and Judge and Town Clerk in Burlington County, New Jersey.
On October 24, 1830, William Ivers married Sarah B. Price*, and a son, Augustine, was born to them
before they moved to Recklesstown**, New Jersey in 1832. Their second son was born the 29th of
September 1833***, he was named Charles Shem Appleby***. Other of Charles (Curles) Shem Appleby's
siblings, were. Martha Ann, born 1835; William Price, born April 8th, 1838; Mary Elizabeth, born the
summer of 1839, living only one month; Sarah A., born 1841; Joseph Smith Appleby, born 1846. The
youngest daughter, Marinda, was born "on the Missouri River" in May 1849.
William and his wife, Sarah, became members of the Church of Christ of latter Day Saints in 1840. William
became active within the Church, taking frequent trips to New York, Philadelphia and Boston. His activities in
the following years indicate a complete dedication to the work of the church and this total involvement had
brought William and Sarah and their children to the Winter Quarters at Council Bluff to begin their journey on
the Mormon Trail.
The wagon train crossed the Missouri River in the Spring of 1849 and reached the Great Salt Lake on
October 27th of that year. A few passages from the Journal, as written almost one hundred and forty years
"July 23: Camp moved early, travelled about twelve miles through a wet muddy miry and slimey road,
and we arrived on the banks of the Platte. The Plains here are hundreds of miles in length, and from three to
twelve wide, from the Platte River South to the Bluffs North, covered with rich luxuriant pasture, and beautiful
flowers of different odors, colors, and variegated hues. The lands thus far travelled from the Missouri River,
belong to the Omaha and Pawnee Tribes of Indians, but we have not seen any since we left Winter Quarters.
We found an Indian skull along the road a few days ago."
"It is quite interesting in the evening when the Camp stops to witness the activity of all that are able: from
watering cattle, some driving others to herd, others carrying wood and water, others making fires, and carrying
wood for evening and morning, while others are preparing their meals. After supper the driving up of the herd,
chaining and tieing up cattle. The Captain of the guard blows his horn, and summons the guards to duty. The
camp after prayers retires to rest, with their camp fires burning and their lamps lighted up in their waggons,
with the lowing of the oxen, the bleating of the sheep, and neighing of the horses in the koral, the howling of the
wolves on the distant hills and prairies with the half hourly cry of the guards as they cry the hour of the night,
with "all is right"."
September 10: "Twelve miles completed our Journey for this day, some part sandy roads, a heavy shower
coming on, we encamped early near low sandy bluffs. From about five o'clock p.m. until midnight there was one
constant and incessant torrent almost. The lightning flashed in vivid glare, the thunder rolled in rumbling and
terrific peals. The winds howled through our camp of canvass, stretched to the enraged elements.
Many were the Mother and infant that received the cold drops through their frail covering, and reposed in
their saturated beds, without murmuring, as it was Heavens will.
The cattle bent to the storm. The guards wet and dripping paced the camp in their several rounds, crying the
hour exposed to the furious and pitiless storm. However after about seven hours the elements having spent
their fury, a calm subsided, and in the morning the camps arose to behold a beautiful clear sky, a shining sun,
cattle all safe, and cheerful and smiling countenances in the camps and plenty of water around the same."
October 27: Continued our journey over the mountains and deep ravines, through a Kanyon, dangerous
and bad roads, upsetting one waggon, breaking one axle we arrived at the Mouth of Emigration Kanyon.
From here we had a sight of the Salt Lake, and Great Salt Lake City. Thus at last the Lord has granted me
the desires of my heart."
The above article is a portion of the Journal of William I. Appleby (1811-1870) includes an autobiography
along with the daily log kept of the months on the Mormon Trail. it includes many of his poems relating to his
life, his religion and family and friends. he died on May 20. 1870. A typed script of the Journal contains 407
The existence of the Appleby Journal was discovered among the Special Archives, not housed in the Family
History Library, at that time. A written request for the information was accepted and a copy of the Journal was
sent to Appleby Heritage in 1986.
*There is documentation of a marriage in Salt Lake City, 6 September 1852, for William Ivers Appleby and
Sarah Brown Price. Was their earlier marriage was prior to their becoming Mormon converts? (Assuming this
is the same William Ivers Appleby).
**According to some random records, Treeklestone or Trubless, New Jersey, was the birthplace of Curles
Shem Appleby. William Ivers Appleby, father of Curles, records the birthplace as Recklesstown, in another
entry it was Ricklestown.
***In records such as, census, death, etc. the given name was Curles Shim Appleby. In his father's Journal,
the son was named Charles Shem, at birth. Other places in the father's Journal, Charles Shem is referred to as
Curles, Carles and Charley. The father's Journal, also, gives the birth date of his son as 1833. Some of the
Curles Shim Appleby's records indicate he was born in 1836. Father and son did agree upon the date 1849 as
the year they crossed the plains.
researched and written by
Dorothy Appleby Turner 1986-87
web site: 21 May 2001
revised: 08 March 2005