During the winters of 1846-47 and 1847-48, more than six hundred members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died in their encampment, called Winter Quarters, on the banks of the Missouri River near Omaha’s present-day Florence neighborhood. These men, women, and children were among the large group of church members immigrating westward to the valley of the Great Salt Lake under the leadership of Brigham Young. Today, their burial ground, which also memorializes the six thousand Latter-day Saints who died enroute West between 1846 and the completion of the railroad in 1869, is commemorated by Avard T. Fairbanks’s Winter Quarters Monument, a beautifully executed sculptural program.
Amy Porter and her baby boys, Joseph and Benjamin, were buried in the cemetery at Winter Quarters. Bill Porter, a descendant, has sent the Nebraska State Historical Society a photograph of her grave marker, the only original pioneer marker on which the person’s name, “Amy,” can still be identified. In this picture the light of the setting sun highlights her name.
In the Fall 2014 issue of Nebraska History, historian Kent Ahrens describes and illustrates the Winter Quarters Monument commemorating Amy and the other Mormon pioneers who died there. You can read an excerpt online (scroll down to the fifth article) at the NSHS website and order a copy of the magazine by calling 1-800-833-6747.