Council Bluffs—Omaha

“[E]arly in 1846, the advance guard of Mormon refugees from Illinois straggled down Indian Creek and Mosquito Creek into the Missouri River bottom below the old jesuit mission and knocked together the first log cabins, which they dubbed Millersville or Miller’s Hollow. By June several thousand of the Saints were camped here. Anxious to get beyond the reach of the unsympathetic Gentiles by circumventing the law against settling on Indian lands, Brigham Young made a deal with the Omaha to protect them against the Pawnee and promptly ferried his sizable flock across the Missouri. He erected a log and dugout village where his people died like flies during the following winter, but which, in 1847, became the base for his triumphant journey to the great Salt Lake. This so-called Winter Quarters, sacred in Mormon history, later became the townsite of Florence, now annexed to Omaha.

The Mormon occupation of Winter Quarters was illegal, for settlers were forbidden on Indian lands. Brigham Young was induced by Thomas H. Harvey, Superintendent of Indian Affairs. to evacuate his site . . . [T]he 1848 season was devoted to the evacuation of Winter Quarters. In May and June . . . Young and his apostles led nearly 2,500 people and nearly 1,000 wagons to the new Zion in Utah. The remainder, mainly the poor who had no outfits, were shuttled back across the Missouri and downstream once more to Miller’s Hollow, where they populated a town which they called Kanesville in honor of Tomas Leper Kane, a Gentile friend. . . .

In 153 the Mormons made their final official exodus from Iowa, and in one great spasm over 3,000 of the faithful migrated to Salt Lake, abandoning Kanesville. The empty houses and barns were soon appropriated by Gentiles who decided to linger before going to California; and from this time on the name Kanesville rapidly gave way to Council Bluffs, although it would remain a few more years.”