William Ivers Appleby
The Mormon Pioneer Trail
The dotted red lines on some of today' 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 Counselor, 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 May (Lukers) Appleby, was born the
thirteenth 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.
William's father, Jacob, served several years in the elected office as the
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 married Sarah B. Price* and a son, Augustin,
was born to them before they moved to Recklesstown**, New Jersey in 1832.
Their second son was born 29th of September 1833***. He was named Charles
Shem Appleby***. Following children 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 Appleby 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 years following, indicate a complete dedication to the work of the church.
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 the 27th of October in that same year. A few
passages from the Journal, as written, almost one hundred and forty years ago,
July 23, 1849: "Camp moved early, traveled 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 traveled 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 praries 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
that enraged elements. Many were the Mother and infant that received the cold
through their frail covering and reposed in their saturated beds, without murmuring,
as it was Heaven's 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."
Ed. notes: This 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 typescript of the journal contains 407 pages. The original Journal is in the
LDS Archives, and was available (1985) by request only.
*William Ivins Appleby and Sarah Brown Price remarried on 6 September 1852, in
Salt Lake City. Their first marriage was prior to their becoming Mormon converts.
According to some random records: Treeklestone or Trubless, New Jersey was
the birthplace of Curles Shem Appleby. William I. Appleby, his father, records the
birthplace as Recklesstown. In another entry it was called Ricklestown.
In records, ie. 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 Carles and Charley. The
Journal gives the birthdate of this son as 1833. Some of Curles Shim's own records
indicate he was born in 1836. Father and son did agree upon the date, 1849, as the
year they crossed the Plains.
Copyright © 1999 All rights reserved.
revised: 25 August 2000