|Fr. Jean-Pierre de Smet, S.J.|
By the time the spring of 1847 approached in Winter Quarters, nearly 400 Mormon lives had been lost to various causes. Yet there was a vital bit of good news during their stay. The news came when the famous Jesuit, Father Pierre Jean de Smet, passed through Winter Quarters on his way east. The Jesuit was one of the few white men who had ever seen the Great Salt Lake. His information on routes and conditions was extended freely to the Mormons, who eagerly anticipated their next move west. On April 5, 1847, Brigham Young led the first Mormon wagon train out of Winter Quarters bound for Utah. Conditions, timing, experience and organization were on the Mormons' side this time and the trip went much easier than the previous year's trial. 148 people, three of whom were women, 72 wagons, and a large collection of livestock made up this first group.
Link (here) to the National Parks Service website.
What Fr. de Smet, S.J. actually wrote about the Mormons (here)