Smith, Marilyn Austin, Faithful Stewards--the Life of James Gray Willie and Elizabeth Ann Pettit, 95-120.
- Source Locations
- Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Related Companies
- James G. Willie Company (1856)
- Related Persons
- Thomas Boyington
- William Empey
- Ellen Cantwell
- Richard Hardwick
- Thomas William Jost
- Mary Williams
- Mary Ann Zwicker Jost
- Anders Jorgen Mortensen
- Mary Ann Cantwell
- John James
- William Hamer Cantwell
- John Thomas Geary
- Harriet Campkin
- Bodil Mortensen
- Selena Hurren
- Mary Ann Gurney
- Mary Ann Jost
- Mary Bubb Roberts
- Mary Reeder Hurren
- James Cantwell
- Hanna Sophia Larsen
- Kirstine Knutsen [or Knudsen]
- Anna Kirstine Larsen
- Catherine McKay Ledingham
- Elizabeth Cotterell Cantwell
- Richard Godfrey
- Sophia Ann Geary
- Julia Hill
- William M. Leason
- Sabina Bird
- Ann Bryant
- Susannah Osborne
- Samuel H. Witts
- Hannah Herbert
- Charlotte Brown Gurney
- Ann Bird
- Elizabeth Haywood Bailey
- Lars Julius Larsen
- Wilford George Campkin
- James Kirkwood
- William Groves
- Jens Nielson
- Martha Ann Campkin
- William Page
- Sophia Fryer Geary
- Rhoda Rebecca Oakey
- Francis Robert Cantwell
- Agnes Caldwell
- John Roberts
- Paul Jacobsen
- Daniel Osborne
- Elizabeth Cotterell Hamer Cantwell
- Ann Herbert
- Charles Oakey
- Joseph Benson Elder
- Franklin Thornton Richins
- John Linford
- James Issac Campkin
- William James
- Niels Andersen
- James Sherlock Cantwell
- Peter Madsen
- Samuel Edward Jost
- Jesse Empey
- Samuel Gadd
- Ella Jonsson Wicklund
- Eliza Williams Smith
- Maria Kristine Amitzbol Andersen
- George Curtis
- William Smith
- David Reeder
- Levi Savage, Jr.
- Mary M. Ledingham
- John Richins
- Joseph Oborn
- Eliza Hancock Philpot
- Daniel Osborne
- Olof Jacobsson Wicklund
- Emily Hill
- Mary Ann Clark Perkins
- Daniel Chapman Gadd
- Archibald McPhail
- Robert Reeder
- Rasmus Peter Hansen
- Edward Griffiths
- Elizabeth [or Betsy] Smith
- Helle Nielsen
- Ann Jewell Rowley
- Rasmus Hansen
- Allen McPherson Findlay
- Johan August Ahmanson
- Jessie Ireland Findlay
- Charlotte Priscilla Taylor Richins
- Harriet Smith
- Martha Eliza Philpot
- Caroline Reeder
- Alexander Joseph Smith
- Theophilus Cox
- Ann Brummel Cooper
- John Chislett
"On the 12th President Spencer appointed me as captain over the Fourth Handcart Company, consisting of the passengers of the ship Thornton, with Elders Millen Atwood, Levi Savage, William Woodward, John Chislett, and Johan A. Ahmanson respectively captains of hundreds."
William Woodward's journal: "Tuesday 24th June. This morning the remainder of the Company joined us (at Pond Creek), and remained there till 5 p.m. doing the best we could though unable to procure provisions. Left for Rock Island and arrived at 11 p.m. and slept in the cars all night. While at Pond Creek the child of (left blank) died of general debility and was buried the same day in the presence of Pres[iden]ts [James G.] Willie and [Johan August] Ahmanson."
"Saturday 28th (June). Prest. Willie received instructions from Prest. D. Spencer to continue in charge of the Company for the time being."
"Sunday 29th June. We attended meeting in the Camp in the morning. Prest. Willie & Elder John A. Hunt addressed the meeting and in the afternoon Elder Dan Jones preached."
"Monday 30 June. This day Jens C. Jensen, native of Denmark died in the camp, aged two years."
"Tuesday 1st July. A child died today. We are getting ready for the plains and are getting 17 lbs. of luggage ready to cross the plains with as it is not possible to take more."
"Wednesday 2nd July. Sister Mary Lewis, wife of Joseph Lewis, was delivered of a son at 3 a.m., of the Bristol Branch, in the midst of thunder and lightning. The tents not being done we had a good soaking.
"Thursday July 3rd. We had plenty of rain again last night with thunder & lightning. The tents are not yet done although Prest. Willie is unceasing in his exertions to keep the sisters to their work."
"Saturday July 5th. This morning Lars Julius Larsen was born, the son of Peter and Ann K. Larsen. Also died this morning Sarah Ann, daughter of Sister Ann Cooper in the Camp, late of Cambridgeshire Conference, England."
"Monday, July 7th. This morning Mary Ledingham died, daughter of William & Catherine Ledingham, late of Leith, Scotland, aged 22 months."
"Tuesday, July 8th. The tents are now finished."
"Wednesday, July 9th. A company of Saints arrived that came in the Horizon from Liverpool numbering some 800 souls came up this evening in the midst of a terrible storm, and we as well as the other Companies accommodated them the best in our power." (May 25, 1856, the ship Horizon sailed from Liverpool with 856 Saints under the direction of Edward Martin. The company arrived at Boston and reached Iowa City by rail July 8th.)
"Saturday, July 12th. Sister Bailey who was out of her mind was baptized by President Willie. All are busy getting their 17 lbs. weighed up this morning….There was a meeting held this evening when President Willie was appointed to preside over the 4th Division of the P.E.F. Hand-Cart Company. Elders Atwood, Savage, Woodward & Chislett were appointed to preside over hundreds of the said Company." (The third hundred, under William Woodward, were principally Scotch and the fifth hundred, under Johan A. Ahmanson, were Scandinavians.)
"Sunday, July 13th. A child died last night between 8 & 9 p.m., the daughter of Hannah Louiza Richins, on the camping ground. Sister Ingra was baptized this morning….Elder Willie…proposed that Elders Ledingham and Griffiths be appointed Captains of the Guard & Commissary."
The early companies arriving in the Salt Lake Valley came with oxen, mules, and horses and heavy laden wagons. The people quite generally were under the necessity of walking across the plains by the sides of their wagons. Cheaper methods had to be employed to accommodate the increasing emigration. As early as 1851 the First Presidency suggested the use of handcarts as a means of making the journey from Iowa westward. The first handcart companies to cross the plains came in 1856, led by Edmund Ellsworth (266 souls who left Iowa City June 9th), Daniel D. McArthur (220 souls who left June 11th), Edward Bunker (a small company of Welsh Saints who left June 23rd), James G. Willie (who left July15th), and Edward Martin (who left July 28th). [blank space] When the latter two companies arrived in Iowa City, the starting point of thirteen hundred miles of plains, they discovered that the handcarts were not in readiness. They were delayed until they could be produced. This delay and a much earlier and most severe winter caused much suffering for members of these two companies. The two other belated companies that year were the Hodgett's and the Hunt's wagon trains.
It is said that Captain James G. Willie's company consisted of 500 souls, 120 carts, 5 wagons, 24 oxen, 45 beef cattle and cows; Captain Edward Martin's company consisted of 575 souls, 146 carts, 7 wagons, 30 oxen, 50 beef cattle and cows; Captain William B. Hodgett's wagon train consisted of 185 souls, 33 wagons, 187 oxen, beef cattle and cows; and Captain John A. Hunt's wagon train consisted of 200 souls, 50 wagons, 297 oxen, beef cattle and cows.
No attempt will be made here to tell the detailed and lengthy account of the Willie Handcart Company. It is a story by itself. Only James' personal account along with a few other items will be included in this history.
James G. Willie's account: "On July 15th we started from Iowa City Camping Ground for old Winter Quarters, now known as Florence, and pursued our journey till the 20th, when Adelaide A. Baker of the Portsmouth Branch of Southampton conference with her two children, Ann and Sebina Bird of the Eaton Bray Branch of the Bedfordshire conference, and Harriet Smith of the Bristol Branch, Southampton conference left us for the leeks and onions. I wish to here mention an act of kindness performed by a gentleman, Mr. Charles Good at Fort Des Moines. He presented me with 15 pairs of children's boots which I readily accepted as he seemed to be interested by a sincere desire to do good. On Monday the 11th of August we arrived at Florence, having previously on the 9th had two other deserters from our ranks, a Sister Guirney and daughter, both of the Wiltshire conference.
"On our way considerable opposition was shown towards us by the people from time to time, and threats of personal violence were sometimes made use of, though never carried into effect, because they could not find any just cause for complaint. We were persecuted by a posse of men with a search warrant from some justice of the peace authorizing them to search the bottoms of our wagons for young women, who as was alleged were tied down there with ropes."
William Woodward's journal: "Tuesday, July 15th. We finished weighing the luggage today. Sister Eliza Hurren was delivered of a daughter about 6 a.m. yesterday; also Franklin Richins was born this day to John and Charlotte Richins of the Cheltenham Conference, & Richard Godfrey of Worcester Conference was joined in matrimony to Ann Herbert of the same Branch by Bishop Tyler. We started out a short distance this day and encamped for the night, all in first rate spirits."
"Thursday, July 17th. President Spencer and Elder Ferguson came this morning and took back with them a list of the names &c"
"Sunday, July 20th. We did not move out this day but rested ourselves and had two meetings. Prest. Willie, Elders Chislett & Savage addressed us. Yesterday Sister Adelaide A. Baker left us & this morning came and took her luggage & two of her children away with her. She came from the Portsmouth Branch, Southampton Conference; also Ann & Sabina Bird of the Eaton Bray Branch of the Bedfordshire conference & Harriet Smith of the Bristol Branch South Conference left us this day."
"Monday, July 21st. this morning the bugle blew at 4 a.m. for the Saints to get up which they did & then got breakfast, greased our carts, took up our tents, packed our luggage & were ready to start at 7:30 a.m., with only one sick person in the waggon. . . .This night we were a little disturbed by some persons cursing & swearing about the Mormons, but plenty of guards & firearms were called out & after an hour or two swearing they left us."
Peter Madsen writes: Monday, July 21, 1856. "This evening some strangers tried to disturb us and by threats tried to drive us away. President Willie, who knew the people in Illinois, made a comparison and upheld the brethren in arming themselves for battle. Our enemies found it unadvisable (to carry out their threats) and failed to appear."
William Woodward's journal: (The company arrived at Bear Creek at 2 p.m.) "Prest. Willie was busy attending upon the sick the remaining part of the day. We were then dismissed by prayer by Elder Willie & went to our beds.
"Wednesday, July 23rd. Charles Peat and family with Martha & four children from Worcester, England, left us this morning. This morning it is very hot indeed without a breath of air & after prayer by Prest. Willie we were ready to start again at 7:30 a.m.. . . we arrived (at Brush Creek) at 7 p.m. with a great many sick & tired out. Prest. Willie & Elder Griffiths were engaged till quite dark administering to the sick. Sister Mary Williams from the Worcester Branch of the Worcestershire Conference died on the way, supposed from eating green plums together with the excessive heat."
"Thursday, July 24th. This afternoon we buried Sister Williams in the town burying ground." (The company camped on Big Bear Creek.)
"Friday, July 25th. . . .just before we encamped (at Muddy Creek) we were overtaken by the Sheriff with a warrant to search the waggons and under the idea that women were detained contrary to their wish with ropes. After showing their authority, they had permission to examine any part of the Company & were fully satisfied that the report was without foundation & left us. We were disturbed last night by about 30 men with supposed bad pretensions & called over their names but finding us on guard left without committing any depredations."
"Sunday, July 27th. The Camp is getting strong & the sick are mending very fast."
"Monday, July 28th. Seleam Haren, daughter of James & Eliza Haren (Hurren), aged 14 days died about 11 a.m. this day with the rash in the mouth. Sister Haren's child was buried this day with Elder Savage & others in attendance."
"Tuesday, July 29th, 1856. On our journey (to Skunk Creek) Brother Henry Boden of the Worcester Branch of the Worcestershire Conference left us."
"Thursday, Aug. 7th. Bro. Smith of the Wiltshire Conference went into a store to purchase some things & left his purse in the shop with 6 sovereigns in it."
"Friday, August 8th. Bro. Woodward went back with witnesses and got a search warrant for Bro. Smith's purse, but did not succeed in finding it."
"Saturday, Aug. 9th. On our way to this creek (Keg Creek) Bro. Gurnly of the Wiltshire Conference left us with his daughter."
"Wednesday, Aug 13th. The Brethren are busy settling up accounts, finding out those who are going to stop, &c In the evening Prest. Willie with Elders Atwood & Savage addressed us and bore their testimonies & gave their opinions of the journey before us and after prayers we were dismissed & went to our tents."
"Thursday, Aug. 14th. The Brethren are busy loading up flour, taking the names of those going through, preparing the hand-carts, &c"
"Saturday, 16 August. Part of the 4th Company of Hand-carts, 85 in number under the presidency of Elder James G. Willie, started from Florence in company with 11 waggons (P.E. Fund & independent) about one o'clock p.m. and journey to Little Pappea where they camped for the night with Col. Babbitt and 4 waggons of his. The Handcart Company had been organized into hundreds by President Daniel Spencer at Iowa City and subsequently sanctioned by President James McGaw. Millen Atwood, Capt. of 1st hundred, Levi Savage, Capt. of 2nd hundred, William Woodwarad, Capt. of 3rd hundred, John Chislett, Capt. of 4th hundred, J.A. Ahmanson, Capt. of 5th hundred. Brother Jost borrowed a yoke of oxen from Bro. Cantwell in consequence of his own being unmanageable. Promised to return said yoke tomorrow."
"Sunday, 17 August. Bros. Jost and Geary returned to Florence with Bro. Cantwell's oxen. Remainder of handcarts and waggons arrived in camp from Florence with President Willie. This evening Capt. Atwood gave the Saints some good instruction relative to their present and future duties which he plainly told them must and should be performed and referring to his satisfaction at some grumblers having deserted from the ranks, told the balance that those of them who might still feel double-minded had better do the same as this was about their last chance."
James G. Willie's account: "On our arrival at Florence we were warmly greeted by Pres. James McGaw and Geo. D. Grant, Wm. H. Kimball, and John Van Cott. We stayed there till August the 16th and during this interval were employed in repairing handcarts and tents. We also received much useful instruction from the brethren.
"At Florence four independent wagons joined our company and were subsequently, on the 18th, at the Great Pappea, organized into it by Pres. McGaw, who then appointed Andrew L. Siler a Captain of such wagons under my presidency."
William Woodward gives the following information: Names of persons attached to or accompanying the P.E.F. and Independent Waggons.
P.E.F. Waggons Levi Savage (Capt.), Millen Atwood, Johan Ahmanson, Thomas Bowington, William Woodward, Charles Oliver, John Chislett, Charles Oakey, Robert Reeder, Joseph Reed, Anders Judd Mortensen, and Martha Campkin (and Francessa, Harriet, Wilford George, Martha Ann, and James).
Independent Waggons A. L. Silver (Capt.), Joseph Elder, N. L. Christiansen, Melissa Davenport, Ruvina Leeson (and William N., a baby), John A. Jost (and Mary Ann Senr., Catherine Ann, Samuel, Thomas, Mary Ann Junr., and Andrew James), James S. Cantwell (and Elizabeth Senr., Francis R., James, William, Ellen, Mary Ann, and Elizabeth Junr.), William Wilford, John Thos. Geary (and Sophia, and Sophia Ann), and Christina Anderson.
James G. Willie's account: "On August 19th we rolled out of camp about 6 a.m. and commenced our journey across the plains in real earnest, traveling about 18 miles that day, including the crossing of the Elk Horn river. I then appointed Bro. Niel Lars Christiansen interpreter and counselor to the Danish Saints."
William Woodward's journal: "Friday, 22 August. During the afternoon Sister Sophia Geary had her left foot run over by Bro. Wilford's waggon. She was administered to in the evening by Bros. Silver, Cantwell, and Geary, Capt. Siler officiating. He sealed the blessing of health and strength upon her and promised that inasmuch as she would exercise faith she should walk tomorrow."
"Saturday, 23 August. Prest. Willie had a cow and calf killed for the Handcart Company. . . .Sis. Geary walked a considerable distance pursuant to Bro. Siler's promise."
"Monday, 25 August. Rolled out about 7 a.m. leaving Bro. Griffiths on a mule to hunt for 3 cows which had been lost. He got into camp in the evening about dusk with one cow only which he reported as having found on terms of close intimacy with 2 wolves."
James G. Willie's account: "On Thursday the 28th of August Brother Hadley of the Warwickshire conference aged 66 was missed. Immediately I sent out scouts in search of him with a lantern, but he was not found until early the following morning, after being out exposed to a drenching rain during the night. He, however, soon recovered.
"On Friday the 29th we came up with a large camp of Omaha Indians who were very friendly and sold us some buffalo meat. The Chief invited the officers of our camp to see him. We accordingly went and were hospitably entertained. These Indians informed us of a murder which had been committed on the 25th by the Cheyennes on two of Col. Babbit's men and a Mrs. Wilson and her child. We subsequently passed by the scene of the murder and covered up the graves."
William Woodward's journal: "Friday, 29th August. President Willie and Captains Atwood, Savage, and Siler visited a large encampment of Omaha Indians about half a mile from our camp. These Indians were very numerous and had a great quantity of horses."
Church Chronology: "1856. August.—Mon. 25.—Col. Almon W. Babbitt's train loaded with government property and traveling west, was plundered by Cheyenne Indians, near Wood river, Neb. A. Nichols and two others were killed, and a Mrs. Wilson was carried away by the savages."
William Woodward's journal: "Saturday, 30 August. While dining some of the brethren noticed on the hills about 2 miles off some animals which looked like oxen. Capt. Savage and Bro. Joseph Elder started in pursuit, the one on a mule the other on horseback, and after a long chase succeeded in bringing into camp a yoke of oxen which were added to Bro. Jost's team."
James G. Willie's account: "On the morning of Thursday, 4th Sept., being 265 mileswest of Florence we found that 30 of our oxen were missing. We stayed to search for them till the 6th and during our stay Col. Babbitt came up and reported that the Cheyennes had attacked a small California train and killed a woman and that the U.S. Troops had killed 13 Cheyennes and taken a number of horses. Captain Smoot and Bro. Porter Rockwell visited the Saints and comforted us in our then present emergency.
"On the 6th of September we started afresh with our broken teams. Joseph Elder and Andrew Smith returned on the back track in search of the missing cattle. We traveled a short distance when I found it necessary to yoke up some cows which we had with us and to make a transfer of baggage and oxen from one wagon to another in order to equalize the burden of our present position. The brethren cheerfully responded to this call and matters were soon arranged, so that we were on our journey again."
William Woodward's journal: "Thursday, 4 Sept. It being ascertained this morning that 30 head of cattle had strayed away (most probably in a stampede) during the night, President Willie dispatched all the able-bodied men to search for them and after several hours search the brethren returned with reports of failures. A council was then called by Prest. Willie and afterwards different brethren under the command of Capt. Savage, Siler and Christiansen started in different directions. Capt. Siler with his company returned about 5 and Captains Savage and Christiansen with theirs about 8 p.m. (Capt. Savage's was a mule company and Captains Siler and Christiansen's were on foot), after a fruitless search. This morning Col. Babbitt overtook us. . . . (He) reported that Prest. Smoot's train would probably be opposite to us on the other side of the Platte this evening, which turned out to be the case.
"Friday, 5 Sept. This morning Prest. Willie sent out together Capt. Savage in command of a mule company and Captain Christiansen in command of a foot company in search of the missing cattle, but the 2 parties returned at dark together this evening and reported a complete failure. Capt. Siler and other brethren visited President Smoot's Company this morning which they overtook 12 miles from our camp. President Smoot and Capt. O.P. Rockwell returned with our brethren and met with our officers in council this evening. They camped with us for the night.
"Saturday, 6 Sept. This morning President Smoot at the request of our President made some cheering remarks to the Saints and showed us the necessity of strict and ready obedience, at the conclusion of which President Willie told the brethren to yoke up their remaining cattle and the cows and be ready for an immediate move, the first and second hundred and part of the third hundred accompanied by the P.E.F. waggons to start first, which was done accordingly. At the same time Bros. Joseph Elder and Andrew Smith were sent back to search for the lost cattle with instructions to go on till they met Franklin D. Richards. After a few hours absence the teams which had moved off the first half of our company returned and took away the remaining half. . . .This evening at prayers Capt. Siler made some remarks to that portion of the camp entrusted to his charge on the principle of obedience & more particularly as it bore on the Saints present position here and which remarks had a tendency to prepare their minds for some coming trial of their confidence in God and His servants. President Smoot and Capt. Rockwell left us this afternoon for their camp.
"Sunday, 7 Sept. This morning a council was held and soon afterwards the whole camp was called together by the well known sound of the horn. President Willie called on Capt. Atwood to preside over the meeting. After singing 'How firm a foundation ye Saints of the Lord' &c, Prest. Atwood called on Captains Chislett, Woodward, Savage, and Siler (in the order of their names) to address the Saints, which these brethren did, showing very clearly the difficulties of our present position and urging on people the absolute necessity for doing away with the spirit of grumbling, strife, pilfering, and disregard of counsel which was now on the increase in the camp and substituting in its place the spirit of contentment, peace, union, and strict obedience. President Atwood then addressed the Saints, stating his cordial approbation of the brethren's remarks, which he believed would be heeded and thus reduced into practice by the people. He adverted (as also did Capt. Siler in his observations) to the 'Independent Waggon Company' and said his feelings was for the owners to consecrate waggons and teams and everything belonging to them to the Lord through His servant President Willie to be used in the present emergency as the Holy Ghost should dictate through him. Prest. Atwood urged the pilferers to come forward and openly confess their faults before the brethren who would then extend to them the friendly hand of forgiveness. He told the Saints plainly they must one and all from this time, as far as they knew how, literally obey the counsel of each particular officer placed immediately over them without rebelling or grumbling openly or secretly. President Willie then summed up the whole matter, examining minutely the ground occupied by the preceding speakers and expressing his approbation of their remarks. He said (as also did President Atwood in his preceding speech) that the whole strength of the camp, that of men, women, children, and beasts, must be applied under the direction of the officers of the camp for the one object in view, the early resumption and speedy & final completion of the journey which he (with President Atwood) considered might, even now, be continued at the rate of from 10 to (poor copy) miles per day according to circumstances. He urged on the brethren and sisters attached to the 'Independent' Waggons and who had no particular occupation except to walk alongside those vehicles or to ride inside them to walk altogether or as much as practical and besides to confer honor on themselves by assisting to pull handcarts or doing anything else which their superior officer might direct or which they might see required to be done even though it should be to leave their luggage on the plains. Prest. Willie said he would not enter into full particulars of the plan of operation which he contemplated further than by saying that if the brethren or sisters drawing handcarts should be required by their captain to draw 4 or 5 hundred (pounds) of flour they should do it cheerfully and the Waggon Company must act on the same principle by carrying anything and everything which might be required of them by like authority. He entirely concurred in the remarks of President Atwood and the other brethren and would like to see all the grumblers, pilferers, liars and so forth if any were still so in their hearts immediately stand by themselves aside for the rest so that the brethren might better know them. He concluded by suggesting that President Atwood test the feelings of the camp by obtaining their vote to sustain the various officers in their respective positions to the very uttermost in carrying out such measures as the Holy Ghost might direct through them for most safely and speedily gathering this company to Zion, expressing his strong desire that none would raise their hands toward Heaven in support of such vote unless they meant it from their hearts and would literally and willingly carry its spirit when the officers came to execute their duty. President Atwood then put the question in the affirmative terms mentioned by President Willie at the same time wishing the people not to lower their hands till he told them to do so. The motion was carried unanimously and on its being put in the negative not a single hand was held up. The meeting was then dismissed and the brethren immediately went to work to execute the will of President Willie which was cheerfully responded to. Afterwards President Willie and Captains Atwood and Siler with other brethren yoked up many of the cows, which was an arduous task.
"As our oxen were gone & we still had some cows, we yoked many of them up, lighted the loads that were in the wagons by putting some 6000 lbs. Of flour on our handcarts & rolled on towards the Valley."
James G. Willie's account: "While in camp on the morning of the 8th a man who gave the name of Henry Bauichter came up and reported that two men named Thomas Margetts and James Cowdy with the wife and child of the latter had been murdered by the Cheyennes about 70 miles ahead of our camp. He said that the murders were committed during his absence from Margetts and Cowdy on a buffalo hunt. These two men I ascertained afterward were apostates returning from the valley to the States."
Henry Bauichter, a discharged soldier from Fort Laramie, left there August 29th and had overtaken Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Margetts and James Cowdy and his wife and child. The massacre occurred September 6th. Mrs. Margetts was carried away captive by the Indians. The Margetts-Cowdy party had left Utah and were on their way back to England. Thomas Margetts, along with John C. Armstrong, was called on a mission to Europe at the April, 1852, conference in Salt Lake City. These two elders, because of immorality and other serious transgressions, caused much sorrow in the mission field while under the supervision of Pastor James G. Willie and earlier.
William Woodward's journal: "Wednesday, 10 Sept. Left camp a little before 9 a.m. & journeyed on to crossing of Skunk Creek, President Willie, Capt. Atwood and other brethren carrying the sisters over the stream."
James G. Willie's account: "On Friday the 12th President Franklin D. Richards with three carriages and some wagons, accompanied by a number of brethren and by Bro. Elder and Smith who had met them while searching for the lost oxen, came up with our camp on the north Bluff of the Platte river, amidst the hearty cheers of the whole company. In the evening he gave us a stirring address with a view to build up and encourage the people, and his sentiments were seconded by a hearty amen from time to time. His counselors, Daniel Spencer and C. H. Wheelock, also cheered the Saints with some seasonable remarks. Several of the songs of zion were sung with first rate spirit and good effect by Elder W.C. Dunbar, and the meeting separated late in the evening, much edified and with the good spirit of our God evidently burning in their bosoms.
"The next morning we had a similar meeting, when the Saints had portrayed before them in vivid colors the realities of the present position. Pres. Richards and others spoke there as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and it was indeed a time of refreshing with the presence of the spirit of the Lord. At the conclusion of the meeting eight cheers were given for these brethren who immediately afterwards crossed the Platte river, an example which we at once followed."
According to William Woodward, President Franklin D. Richards and suite (George D. Grant, William H. Kimball, Joseph A. Young, Cyrus H. Wheelock, Chauncey G. Webb, James Ferguson, John D. T. McAllister, William C. Dunbar, Nathan H. Felt, John Van Cott, and Dan Jones), along with Brothers Elder and Smith, arrived September 12th, just before dusk, in three carriages and two wagons. After the evening meeting an account was taken of the number of cows, oxen, wagons, fire-arms, etc., for representation by President Richards to the First Presidency.
Report by F.D. Richards and Daniel Spencer: "On the 9th inst. we met with two brethren from br. J.G. Willie's company of hand-carts, in search of 30 head of cattle that had strayed from their camp about 50 miles in advance. On the 12th we overtook and camped with br. Willie's company, at North Bluff Creek, consisting of 404 persons, 6 wagons, 87 handcarts, 6 yoke of oxen, 32 cows, and 5 mules. They were considerably weakened by the loss of their oxen, which they had failed to recover, but were in good spirits and averaging from 14 to 16 miles a day."
There were approximately twenty persons assigned to a tent and five persons assigned to a handcart. Each person was limited to 17 pounds of clothing, bedding, etc., making 85 pounds of luggage to each cart. The green wood used to make the wheels of the carts shrank and became loose. They wrapped them with rawhide.
Emily Hill (Woodmansee), a Willie Company member, wrote the following handcart song, sung to the tune of 'A Little More Cider.'
Oh, our faith goes with the hand-carts,
And they have our hearts' best love;
'Tis a novel mode of traveling,
Devised by the Gods above.
Hurrah for the Camp of Israel
Hurrah for the hand-cart scheme!
Hurrah! Hurrah! 'tis better far
Than the wagon and ox-team.
And Brigham's their executive,
He told us the design;
And the Saints are proudly marching on,
Along the hand-cart line.
Who care to go with the wagons?
Not we who are free and strong;
Our faith and arms, with a right good will,
Shall pull our carts along.
William Woodward's journal: "Saturday, 13 Sept. Father William Haley of the Warwickshire Conference in England died this afternoon from general decay of constitution, aged 66 years.
"Sunday, 14 Sept. William Haley was buried this morning on our yesterday's camping ground, a grave-board being inscribed with his name, age, and date of death. . . . Bro. Joseph Elder killed 2 buffaloes just before arriving in camp this evening."Monday, 15 Sept. Left camp about 8:30 a.m., soon after which Father Richard F. Turner of the Worcestershire Conference in England died. He was buried at a bend of the Platte River where we nooned."
James G. Willie's account: "On Monday, September 15, we met several Indians who stated they belonged to the Arapahoes, and that the Sioux and Cheyennes had recently attacked a large emigration train and killed many. These Arapahoes were watching us during the whole of the night for what purpose is best known to themselves. On the night of the 17th we had the first frost, which was a very severe one. On that day one of Bro. Cantwell's daughters (Ellen) was bitten by a rattlesnake, but the wound was dressed and no fatal effects followed. The snake, which had ten rattles, was afterwards killed."
William Woodward's journal: "Thursday, 18 Sept. I omitted to state in my journal for yesterday that Bro. J.S. Cantwell's daughter Ellen, aged 7 years, was bitten by a large rattlesnake as she was playing in the sand. Capt. Siler killed the snake and applied the best known remedy at hand (a mixture of powder and lard externally and some whisky internally), after which she slept soundly for some time. . . .Sister Stewart was found to be missing on the arrival of the camp (at the Platte Bottom) and as her footsteps were traced in advance of us Bros. Oliver and Smith were sent ahead in search and returned reporting that they had failed in their mission thus far."
"Friday, 19 Sept. After breakfast this morning, Prest. Willie sent out many of the brethren to search for Sister Stewart. . . .The scouts for Sis. Stewart returned without her about dinner time. Prest. Willie then called a council after which he with 11 brethren went out on a 3rd expedition. They had been absent about 4 hours when she came into camp stating that hearing the lowing of cattle and the sound of the axe she made for the spot and found Captain Woodward and others (who had been sent into Ash Hollow by Prest. Willie for timber to make axles) cutting wood. On arriving in camp she appeared much exhausted and was scarcely able to speak. A cow having been killed this morning, she partook of some beef soup which revived her and she fell asleep. This evening after supper Capt. Atwood called the Saints together for prayer as usual and was afterwards conversing about the best plan to be adopted to bring back Prest. Willie and company to the camp (Capts. Woodward & Chislett having volunteered to go in search on horseback) when they all entered the camp, Prest. Willie stating that having discovered and lost Sis. Stewart's back track about dark he had deemed it best to return to the camp for the night and make a fresh start in the morning if necessary. We were all much rejoiced at being restored to each other again."
James G. Willie's account: "On the 18th Sister Stewart from Scotland was missing. A number of brethren accompanied me in search for her and during our absence she returned to the camp after sleeping in the company of wolves for the night. She was much exhausted for want of food. On Sunday the 28th we met a company of nearly 100 apostates on their way from the Valley back to the states, and shortly afterwards a small company of U.S. soldiers came up."
William Woodward's journal: "Sunday, 21 Sept. W.N. Leason, son of Sister Ruvinia Leason, of Quincy, Illinois, died at 11:30 p.m. of canker in the stomach. He was born on 7 Nov. 1854.
"Monday, 22 Sept. W.N. Leason was buried this morning at 7 o'clock, a suitable inscription in wood being placed on the grave. . . .In about an hour after the starting of camp this afternoon Bro. Jesse Empy of Eaton Bray Branch in the Bedfordshire Conference in England died from scrofula, age 31."
"Tuesday, 23 Sept. Bro. Empy was buried this morning before starting of camp, a suitable wooden inscription being placed on the grave."
"Friday, 26 Sept. Sis. Ann Bryant aged 69 from Bristol in England died this afternoon of general decay of constitution."
"Saturday, 27 Sept. Sis. Bryant was buried before starting of camp, which took place about 7:30 a.m."
"Sunday, 28 Sept. Met a company of emigrants returning from Salt Lake City in 11 waggons. Peter Burgess, one of the party, informed us that Mr. Babbitt and 2 men who accompanied him had been killed by the Cheyennes. We afterwards met a company of U.S. Dragoons. . . .The officer and several of his men took possession of a horse which we found several days back and which he claimed as his property. He refused to see President Willie before taking the horse."
James G. Willie's account: "On September 30 we arrived at Fort Laramie, having necessarily expended considerable time in the repair of handcarts up to that point. Here we obtained a small ration for the company, and Captain Siler's four wagons staid to await the arrival of the next wagon train pursuant to President Richards councel. While at the Fort some soldiers visited our camp and conducted themselves with propriety. Two of the sisters thought proper to stay here, Lucinda M. Davenport, who immediately married an apostate just arrived from the valley, and Christine Brown."
William Woodward's journal: "Tuesday, 30 Sept. A cow and calf were killed for the P.E.F. Company."
James G. Willie's account: "on the 1st of October we renewed our journey. This day we met Brother Parley P. Pratt with a number of missionaries under his presidency. In consequence of our limited supply of provisions I considered it necessary to slightly reduce the amount of provisions and the daily ration of flour which was unanimously and willingly acceded to by the Saints."
William Woodward's journal: "Wednesday, 1 Oct. Early this morning Bro. David Reeder died, aged 54. He was born at Rumburgh, Suffolk, in England. . . .William Read died coming to camp in a wagon. He was born at North Crawley, Buckinghamshire, England, aged 63."
"Thursday 2nd. A meeting was held in the evening, Bros. Willie, Atwood, & Savage addressed it on the necessity of shortening the rations of the camp, that our flour might hold out till supplies should meet us. The people were willing to listen to Capt. Willie's suggestion, & it was unanimously approved of by the people."
"Friday 3rd. Peter Larsen, aged 43, from Lolland, Denmark, died during the day.
"Saturday 4th (October). Benjamin Culley, aged 61, from Sprowston, Norfolk, England, died; also George Ingra, aged 68, from Bassingbourne, Cambridgeshire, England; also Daniel Gadd, aged 2, from Orwell, Cambridgeshire, England, died. A cow was killed in the afternoon."
"Wednesday 8th. This morning one of our best oxen, belonging to the P.E. Fund, died—supposed to have eaten a poisonous weed. . . .A cow was killed in the evening for the use of the camp."
"Thursday 9th. Samuel Gadd, from Orwell, Cambridgeshire, England, died in the afternoon, aged 42 years."
"Friday 10th. We called at a trading post & obtained 37 buffalo robes for the use of the handcart company, which had been engaged by Bro. F.D. Richards."
"Saturday 11th. Several of our cows gave out that were hauling wagons; one died on the road or was killed by wolves."
Betsey Smith (Goodwin), a company member, wrote the following account printed in the Improvement Era under the title 'The Tired Mother: Pioneer Recollections.'
"I will not dwell upon the hardships we endured, nor the hunger and cold, but I like to tell of the goodness of God unto us. One day, especially, stands out from among the remainder. The wind blew fresh, as if its breezes came from the sea. It kept blowing harder until it became fierce. Clouds arose, the thunder and lightning were appalling. Even the ox teams ahead refused to face the storm. Our captain, who always rode a mule, dismounted and stepped into the middle of the road, bared his head to the storm, and every man, as he came up, stood by him with bared head—one hundred carts, their pullers and pushers, looking to their captain for counsel. The captain said, 'Let us pray.' And there was offered such a prayer! He told the Lord our circumstances, he talked to God, as one man talks to another, and as if the Lord was very near. I felt that He was; and many others felt the same. Then the storm parted to the right and to the left! We hurried on to camp, got our tents pitched, and some fires built, when the storm burst in all its fury! We had camped on a side-hill, and the water ran through the tents in little creeks."
. . .during a very cold spell. . . .my mother traveled fifteen miles with little Alex (age 6) on her back, as he couldn't walk in the snow. . . .My mother was taken very sick with cramp and cholera, a very fatal trouble in our weakened condition. We all felt bad about mother. I remember thinking, 'Many are dying; mother may die, and what a dark world it would be without our dear mother! As I gathered the sage to burn on our camp-fire, I couldn't keep from crying. When I met mother, she asked me what was the matter. I told her how badly I felt. She said, 'Do not feel like that; pray for me. I have been out yonder in the snow praying to the Lord to spare our lives that we might get through to the Valley. I will never murmur nor complain, whatever we pass through, when we get there.' God heard our prayers, and she kept her word."
"One evening we camped near a marshy meadow spring. Poison parsnips grew there in plenty. Everybody was elated. We had found something to cook and to eat! By this time our ration was four ounces of flour a day, and neither salt nor soda. Alexander Burt brought some parsnips to our camp fire.
"Mother said, 'What have you there, Brother Burt?'
"He answered, 'They are parsnips, Sister Smith, a sort of white carrot; put on the pot and let us have a mess.'
"'I will do that,' said mother, and we cooked and ate our fill of poison parsnips.
"I confess we felt like we had been eating rocks, so heavy they lay upon our stomachs. The whole camp ate of them. Our captain arrived late at the camp that night, and when he found what we had been eating, he groaned aloud, and cried, 'Put them down; every one contains enough poison to kill an ox.' He said, furthermore, that it would be one of the providences of the Almighty if we were not all dead by morning. However, many were glad that they had eaten of them before they knew. We did not realize the truth of his words until the next morning when one brother died—a Scandinavian. We supposed that he had eaten them after he knew they were poison."
William Woodward's journal: "Sunday 12th A cow was killed that was not fit to travel. The night was cold."
James G. Willie's account: "On Sunday the 12th of October Alfred Peacock and George Edwick were added to the list of deserters, just before we arrived at the Upper Crossing of the Platte. On the same day it was considered necessary to make a still further reduction in the daily ration of flour and accordingly it was fixed at 10½ ounces for men, 9 ounces for women, 6 ounces for children, and 3 ounces for infants.
"This turned out to be a very salutary arrangement, as it just enabled us to eke out our provisions until the very day when we received material aid from the valley, which arrived, when the little ones were crying for bread, on the 20th of October, in the shape of 14 wagons laden with flour, onions, and clothing. The last bit of breadstuff, which constituted all the provisions we then had, had been served out two nights previously. We all felt rejoiced at our timely delivery and attributed it entirely to the hand of God which had been over us during the whole of our journey."
William Woodward's journal: "Monday 13th. Paul Jacobsen, from Lolland, Denmark, aged 55, died this evening."
"Wednesday 15th. Early this morning Caroline Reeder from Linstead, Suffolk, England, aged 17 years, died. . . .Many of the company are sick & have to ride in the wagons. One beef heifer & one poor cow were killed this evening for the camp. Last evening a council & a meeting were held to take into consideration our provisions & the time it was considered we should have to make it last before we could depend upon supplies. It was unanimously agreed to reduce the rations of flour one fourth—the men then would get 10½ ozs. per day; women & large children 9 ozs. per day; children 6 ozs. per day; & infants 3 ozs. per day each.
"Thursday 16th. Early this morning Sister Ella, wife of Olof Wicklund was delivered of a son. George Curtis from Norton, Gloucestershire, England, aged 64 years, died; Lars Julius Larsen, who was born July 5th, 1856, in camp at Iowa City died. John Roberts from Bristol, Somersetshire, England, aged 42 years, died. . . .Many of our company are failing in health."
"Friday 17th. William Philpot, aged 51 years, from Southampton, Hampshire, England, died this morning about 2 o'clock. . . .Bro. Findlay found an ox able to work. A calf gave out & was killed by wolves."
"Saturday 18th. A cow & calf were butchered for the company. James Henderson from Nixwood, Lanarkshire, Scotland, died in the evening, aged 27 years."
Apostle Franklin D. Richards and other elders arrived in Salt Lake City Saturday, October 4th, having left Florence September 3rd. They reported to President Young the precarious condition in which they found the Willie Company when they passed them on the plains three weeks before. Sunday, October 5th, President Brigham Young stated: ". . .many of our brethren and sisters are on the Plains with handcarts, and probably many are now seven hundred miles from this place, and they must be brought here, we must send assistance to them. . . .and bring them in before the winter sets in. That is my religion; that is the dictation of the Holy Ghost that I possess, it is to save the people. . . .I shall call upon the Bishops this day, I shall not wait until tomorrow. . .for sixty good mule teams and twelve or fifteen wagons. I do not want to send oxen, I want good horses and mules. They are in this Territory, and we must have them; also twelve tons of flour and forty good teamsters, besides those that drive the teams. . . ."
John Chislett recorded: "We traveled on in misery and sorrow, day after day, sometimes going quite a distance, and at other times we were only able to walk a few miles. We were finally overtaken by a snowstorm which the fierce winds blew furiously about our ears, but we dare not stop, as we had sixteen miles to make that day in order to reach wood and water.
"As we were resting at noon, a light wagon from the west drove into camp, and its occupants were Joseph A. Young and Cyrus H. Wheelock. Messengers more welcome than these young men were to us never came from the courts of glory. After encouraging us all they could, they drove on to convey the glad tidings to the members of the Martin company which, it was feared, were even worse off than we. As they went from our midst many a hearty 'God bless you' followed them." Improvement Era, vol. 17, p. 115, by Solomon F. Kimball)
William Woodward's journal: "Sunday 19th. Rolled on in the morning, weather very cold. Ann Rowley died this morning, aged 2 yrs. Some of the children were crying with cold. Passed Ice Springs, just after we were passed the springs a snow storm came on, which lasted for about half an hour. The company rolled on again, & were soon met by Cyrus H. Wheelock & Joseph A. Young & two other brethren from the Valley, bringing us the information that supplies were near at hand; the camp halted, a meeting was called. Bro. Wheelock informed us of the liberality of the Saints in the Valley, of Bro. Brigham Young's kindheartedness in speaking in behalf of the handcart companies now on the plains, & of himself fitting up ten teams & wagons & supplying them with flour, &c, & others in proportion. During the day Eliza Smith, from Eldersfield, Worcestershire, England, aged 40 years, died; also John Kockles, from Norwich, Norfolk, England, died; also Daniel Osborn, from Norwich, Norfolk, England, died; also Rasmus Hansen, from Falster, Denmark, died. Travelled thro' the day about 16 miles; camped at dark on the banks of the Sweetwater. The teams mistook the road & did not get into camp till about 10 p.m."
With renewed hope the Willie Company pressed on in the midst of snow and a howling wind until late at night all got to camp. That evening the last ration of flour was issued. They found a good camp among the willows, and after warming and partially drying themselves before good fires, they ate their scanty fare, said their prayers and retired to rest with hopes of coming aid.
William Woodward's journal: "Monday, 20th. This morning there was about 4 inches of snow on the ground. Anna F. Tait from Glasgow, Scotland, aged 31 years, died. Capt. Willie & Joseph Elder left camp to meet the 'Relief Train' that had been sent from the Valley. (The next few words missing from the page) were all issued last night & that was hard bread."
John Chistlett's [Chislett's] record: "In the morning the snow was over a foot deep. Our cattle strayed widely during the storm, and some of them died. . . .The morning before the storm, or, rather, the morning of the day on which it came, we issued the last ration of flour. On this fatal morning (20th), therefore, we had none to issue. We had, however, a barrel or two of hard bread which Captain Willie had procured at Fort Laramie in view of our destitution. This was equally and fairly divided among all the company. Two of our poor broken-down cattle were killed and their carcasses issued for beef. With this we were informed that we would have to subsist until the coming supplies reached us. All that now remained in our commissary were a few pounds each of sugar and dried apples, about a quarter of a sack of rice and a small quantity (possibly 20 or 25 lbs.) of hard bread. . . .These few scanty supplies were on this memorable morning turned over to me by Captain Willie, with strict injunctions to distribute them only to the sick and to mothers for their hungry children, and even to them in as sparing a manner as possible. . . .
"Being surrounded by snow a foot deep, out of provisions, many of our people sick, and our cattle dying, it was decided that we should remain in our present camp until the supply-train reached us. It was also resolved in council that Captain Willie with one many should go in search of the supply-train and apprise its leader of our condition, and hasten him to our help. When this was done we settled down and made our camp as comfortable as we could. As Captain Willie and his companion left for the West, many a heart was lifted in prayer for their success and speedy return. They were absent three days (they were absent two days)—three days which I shall never forget. The scanty allowance of hard bread and poor beef, distributed as described, was mostly consumed the first day by the hungry, ravenous, famished souls.
"We killed more cattle and issued the meat; but, eating it without bread did not satisfy hunger, and to those who were suffering from dysentery it did more harm than good. This terrible disease increased rapidly amongst us. . .and several died from exhaustion. Before we renewed our journey the camp became so offensive and filthy that words would fail to describe its condition, and even common decency forbids the attempt. . . .During that time I visited the sick, the widows whose husbands died in serving them, and the aged who could not help themselves, to know for myself where to dispense the few articles that had been placed in my charge for distribution. Such craving hunger I never saw before, and may God in his mercy spare me the sight again.
"As I was seen giving these things to the most needy, crowds of famished men and women surrounded me and begged for bread! Men whom I had known all the way from Liverpool, who had been true as steel in every stage of our journey, who in their homes in England and Scotland had never known want; men who by honest labor had sustained themselves and their families, and saved enough to cross the Atlantic and traverse the United States, whose hearts were cast in too great a mould to descend to a mean act or brook dishonor; such men as these came to me and begged bread. I felt humbled to the dust. . . ."
The morning of October 7th sixteen first-class four-mule teams were seen wending their way towards Emigration Canyon, headed for the east. They were under the supervision of such men as George D. Grant. William H. Kimball, Joseph A. Young, Cyrus H. Wheelock, James Furguson, and Chauncey G. Webb. . .The first night out they camped at the foot of Big Mountain, and by unanimous vote George D. Grant was elected captain of the company. . . .At daylight next morning they continued on their way, driving as far as possible each day, not even stopping for the noon hour. Stormy weather soon set in, making the roads well—night impassable. Fort Bridger was reached on the 12th, but not a word from the emigrants had reached that place. Three days later they arrived at Green River, and still no word from them. By this time the boys became somewhat alarmed, as they were expecting to meet the Willie company in the neighborhood of Fort Bridger, and here they were fifty-eight miles beyond. When last heard from, the Martin Company was more than one hundred miles in the rear of the Willie company, and the wagon trains still behind them. After discussing matters from various standpoints, Joseph A. Young and Cyrus H. Wheelock were sent ahead to let the emigrants know that relief was at hand, and to urge them to push on towards the Valley, as rapidly as possible, no matter what the sacrifice might be. There were around 1,400 pilgrims to be rescued, and sixteen loads of provisions divided among such a number would not last many days.
Before the expressmen were fairly out of sight, their companions were again moving. They were anxious to cross the divide between the Wind River and Green River Mountains before the threatening storms overtook them. After traveling thirty-five or forty miles in a northeasterly direction, winter broke in upon them in all its fury. It snowed for three days and nights almost incessantly, with a cold wind constantly blowing from the north. The roads became so blocked with snow that the boys were compelled to double teams before they were able to reach the summit of the Continental Divide. Reddick N. Allred's team was so run down that he was unable to continue the journey. The snow was so deep at South Pass that the best teams in the outfit could hardly draw their loads on a down-hill pull.
On the evening of the 20th they turned down to a sheltered place on the Sweetwater and camped for the night, for men and animals were completely exhausted. One of the men felt impressed to place a sign in the road, indicating their whereabouts. That night Captain Willie and Joseph B. Elder, frostbitten and exhausted and riding two worn-out animals, appeared out of the blizzard with news that their company, east of Rocky Ridge, was in a freezing, starving condition, and would perish unless immediately relief was given. The boys soon hitched their teams again and continued on their way as long as their animals could stand it. At daylight the next morning another start was made. With Captain Willie and Brother Elder directing them, they drove eastward through the snow with all possible speed to the starving handcart people. (Improvement Era, vol. 17, no. 2, Dec. 1913, pp. 108-117)
John Chislett's record: "Just as the sun was sinking behind the distant cliffs west of our camp, several covered wagons were seen coming towards us. The news spread through the camp like wildfire, and all who were able turned out en masse. Shouts of joy rent the air, strong men wept, and children danced with gladness. As the brethren entered our camp the sisters fell upon them and deluged them with their tears and kisses. Our rescuers were so overcome that they could hardly speak, but in choking silence attempted to repress the emotions that evidently mastered them. Soon, however, the feeling was somewhat abated, and such a shaking of hands, such words of comfort, and such invocations of God's blessings were never before witnessed. Among the brethren who came to our rescue were Elders William H. Kimball and George D. Grant. They had remained in the Valley but two days before starting back to our relief. May God ever bless them for their generous, unselfish kindness, and their manly fortitude. How nobly, how faithfully, how bravely they worked to bring us to the Zion of our God." (Improvement Era, vol. 17, p. 115)
James Simon Willie, James G. Willie's grandson, related the rescue story with tears rolling down his cheeks. He stated: "When Grandfather left to get help, he said that he wouldn't be gone very long, and when he came back he would have help; the Lord wouldn't let them die where they were. . . .Long before they (the rescuers) got there they could hear the tires on the snow squeaking and knew they were coming. (A few minutes brought them sufficiently near to reveal their faithful captain slightly in advance of the train.) The children began singing and the parents crying. When Grandfather got there they took a long canvas and made a shelter and built a big fire, boiled meat, and had soup, the first thing to eat in two days. Grandfather told them (the rescuers) to give them just as little as they could and go on, taking what was needed to the Martin Handcart Company who were worse off than they were."
The Willie Company had not had anything to eat for forty-eight hours and were literally freezing and starving to death. The Salt Lake boys were soon mounted on harnessed mules, with axes in hand, and in a short time dragged from the distant hills several cords of wood to the Willie camp below. Bonfires were soon made and the cooking began in earnest, every available person taking a hand. This was kept up until every member of the Willie Company had enough to eat. (Era, vol. 17)
Mary Hurren (Wight) stated: "I was eight years old when I crossed the plains in the James G. Willie Handcart Company. . . .We all loved Captain Willie. He was kind and considerate and did all that he could for the comfort of those in his company. Many times he has laid his hands upon my head and administered to me. . . .During the last few days before relief came our small allowance of flour was cooked as a gruel and eaten that way. . . .Captain Willie went ahead through the snow to meet the relief wagons and urge them to hurry as the people were freezing and starving to death. If help had not come when it did there would have been no one left to tell the tale. As a small girl I could hear the squeaking of the wagons as they came through the snow before I was able to see them. Tears streamed down the cheeks of the men and the children danced for joy. As soon as the people could control their feelings, they all knelt down in the snow and gave thanks to God for his kindness and goodness unto them. The last supply of food in the camp had been given out two days before the relief wagons came. They came just in time to save our lives."
William Woodward's journal: "Tuesday 21st. John Linford from Graveley, Cambridgeshire, England, aged 49 years died; also Richard Hardwick from Moorhen's Cross, Herefordshire, England, aged 63 years, also Mary Ann Perkins from Norwich, Norfolk, England, aged 62 years, died; also Sophia Larsen from Lolland, Denmark, aged 11 years. Many children were crying for bread and the camp generally were destitute of food. A beef heifer was killed for the camp. Capt. Willie, Capt. Grant, W.H. Kimball & others with 14 wagons with horse & mule teams arrived in camp with flour, onions & some clothing for the camp, this made the Saints feel well."
George D. Grant writes: "We had no snow to contend with until we got to the Sweetwater. On the 19th and 20th of October we encountered a very severe snowstorm. We met br. Willie's company on the 21st; the snow was from six to ten inches deep where we met them. They were truly in a bad situation, but we rendered them all the assistance in our power. Br. Wm. H. Kimball returned with them, also several other brethren. . . .(the) men, women and children (were) worn down by drawing hand carts through snow and mud; fainting by the way side, falling, chilled by the cold, their feet bleeding and some of them bare to snow and frost. The sight is almost too much for the stoutest of us; but we go on doing all we can, not doubting nor despairing. Our company is too small to help much, it is only a drop in a bucket, as it were, in comparison to what is needed."
One of the relief party remarked that in all the mobbings and drivings of the Mormons he had seen nothing like these handcart saints. C. H. Wheelock could scarcely refrain from shedding tears; he declared that he would willingly give his own life if that would save the lives of the emigrants. By October 31st no less than 250 teams were on their way to relieve the sufferers. Many died and all would have perished in the mountain snows but for the timely rescue by relief parties sent out from Salt Lake Valley by President Young. (History of Utah, p. 563)
The morning of October 22nd, according to plans adopted by the relief party at a meeting held the evening before, Captain George D. Grant, with nine teams, pushed on to the relief of the Martin, Hodgett, and Hunt companies, taking most of the provisions with him, while William H. Kimball, with the remainder of the outfit, started back to Salt Lake Valley in charge of the Willie Company.
Joseph A. Young and Abel Garr, expressmen sent to locate the Martin Company, found them in a deplorable condition, they having lost fifty-six of their number since crossing the North Platte, nine days before. Their provisions were nearly gone and their clothing almost worn out. Most of their bedding had been left behind, as they were unable to haul it, on account of their weakened condition.
Captain Grant, who was in charge of the Martin Company, ordered his men to make a start for the west. "Those of the handcart people who were unable to walk were crowded into the overloaded wagons, and a start was made; the balance of the company hobbling along behind with their carts as best they could.
"When the boys came to the first crossing of the Sweetwater west of Devil's Gate, they found the stream full of floating ice, making it dangerous to cross, on account of the strong current. However, the teams went over in safety and continued on their way until they came to a sheltered place, afterwards called 'Martin's Hollow.' Here they camped for the night and, after burying a number of Saints who had died during the day, busied themselves in getting ready to receive the remainder of the company who were expected at any moment.
"When the people who were drawing carts came to the brink of this treacherous stream, they refused to go any further, realizing what it meant to do so, as the water in places was almost waist deep, and the river more than a hundred feet wide by actual measurement. To cross that mountain torrent under such conditions to them meant nothing short of suicide, as it will be remembered that nearly one-sixth of their number had already perished from the effects of crossing North Platte, eighteen days before. They believed that no earthly power could bring them through that place alive, and reasoned that if they had to die it was useless to add to their suffering by the perpetration of such a rash act as crossing the river here. They had walked hundreds of miles over an almost trackless plain, pulling carts as they went, and after making such tremendous sacrifices for the cause of truth, to lay down their lives in such a dreadful manner was awful to contemplate. They became alarmed, and cried mightily unto the Lord for help, but received no answer. All the warring elements of nature appeared to be against them, and the spirit of death itself seemed to be in the very air.
"After they had given up in despair, after all hopes had vanished, after every apparent avenue of escape seemed closed, three eighteen-year-old boys belonging to the relief party came to the rescue, and to the astonishment of all who saw, carried nearly every member of that illfated hand cart company across the snow-bound stream. The strain was so terrible, and the exposure so great, that in later years all the boys died from the effects of it. When President Brigham Young heard of this heroic act, he wept like a child, and later declared publicly, 'that act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant and David P. Kimball an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds with out end.'" (Improvement Era, vol. 17, pp. 287-299)
Doctrine and Covenants, 98:13. "And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name's sake, shall find it again, even life eternal."
A tremendous responsibility rested upon the shoulders of these young men who had received instructions from President Brigham Young not to return until every emigrant on the plains was accounted for. No greater act of heroism was ever recorded than that performed by these rescuers who were instruments in the hands of the Lord in saving about 1,200 belated emigrants.
Edward W. Tullidge records: "James G. Willie is. . .a man of marked character and capacity of intellect. . . .John Chislett, in his graphic sketch of the terrible journey and sufferings of the hand-cart companies, everywhere pays a grateful tribute to Father Willie, whom he names as our 'faithful captain.' When his company was about to perish from starvation, with but a single companion Captain Willie went in search of the supply trains from the valley, which he found; and, after an absence of three (two) days, returned with the supply train of George D. Grant and Wm. H. Kimball. It is evident from the narrative of Mr. Chislett, who was one of his sub-captains, that Captain Willie saved his company from perishing." (Tullidge's Histories of Utah, vol. 2, p. 422, by Edward W. Tullidge)
John Chislett's record: "Our Captain did his utmost to move us forward and always acted with great impartiality." (Rocky Mountain Saints, by T.D.H. Stenhouse, p. 320)
William Woodward's journal: "Wednesday 22nd. Camp rolled out. W.H. Kimball & others with 6 wagons went on to the Valley with us. G.D. Grant & others went on towards Independence Rock to meet Martin's Handcart Company. Travelled 11 miles & camped on the Sweetwater. Roads good considering the snow on the ground. Eliza Philpot from Southampton, Hampshire, England, died, aged 36; also John James from Whitbourne, Herefordshire, England, aged 61."
Part of the provisions, clothing, and six wagons were left with the Willie Company with William H. Kimball in charge of Willie's detachment. Captain Willie still attended to the details of the company's travelling. The remainder of the provisions, clothing, and eight wagons were sent forward under charge of George D. Grant for the use of the Martin Company.
William Woodward's journal: "Thursday 23rd. Ascended a steep hill, travelled about 16 miles & camped on the Sweetwater. Crossed several creeks on the road, several men were near frozen thro the day; two teams loaded with sick did not get to camp till very late. James Gibbs from Leith, East Lothian, Scotland, aged 67 died; also Chesterton J. Gilman from Yarmouth, Suffolk, England, aged 66 years died. Crossing the Rocky ridge was a severe & disastrous day to health. The weather was cold & it snowed and blowed some of the time making it bad for the sick who rode in the wagons & for those who pulled the handcarts. (The next day we buried 13 souls near Willow Creek on the banks of the Sweetwater.)"
John Chislett's record: "The weather grew colder each day, and many got their feet so badly frozen that they could not walk, and had to be lifted from place to place. Some got their fingers frozen; others their ears; and one woman lost her sight by the frost."
William Woodward's journal: "Friday, 24th. Reddick N. Allred & others with 6 wagons came to camp this morning to assist the Handcart Company on our journey to the Valley. It was concluded to stay in camp today & bury the dead as there were 13 persons to inter. William James from Pershore, Worcestershire, England, aged 46, died; Elizabeth Bailey from Leigh, Worcestershire, England, aged 52, died; James Kirkwood from Glasgow, Scotland, [blank space] died; Samuel Gadd from Orwell, Cambridgeshire, England, aged 10, died; Lars Wendin from Copenhagen, Denmark, aged 60, died; Anne Olsen from Seeland, Denmark, aged 46, died; Ella Nilson from Jutland, Denmark, aged 22 years, died; Jens Nilson from Lolland, Denmark, aged 6 years, died; Bodil Mortinsen from Lolland, Denmark, aged 9 years, died; Nils Anderson from Seeland, Denmark, aged 41 years, died; Ole Madsen from Seeland, Denmark, aged 41 years, died. Many of the Saints have their feet & hands frozen from the severity of the weather.
"Saturday 25th. Rolled from camp in the morning. Thomas Gurdlestone from Great Melton, Norwich, aged 62 years, died. William Groves from Cranmoor, Somersetshire, England, aged 22 years, died. Crossed the Sweetwater for the last time. Travelled about 15 miles & camped on the Sweetwater. Some brethren were stationed at this post on the river with supplies of flour & onions. John Walters from Bristol, Somerset, England, died; William Smith from Eldersfield, Worcestershire, England, aged 48 years, died.
"Sunday 26th. Samuel Wit from Bristol, Somerset, England, aged 65 years died; Mary Roberts from Eldersfield, Worcestershire, England, aged 44 years, died. The camp rolled on, crossed the South Pass & Pacific Creek, travelled down Pacific Creek & camped after travelling about 14 miles."
"Wednesday 29th. Anders Jensen from Copenhagen, Denmark, aged 49 years, died this morning. . . .Kersten Knutesen from Seeland, Denmark, died in the evening.
"Thursday, 30th (October). Rolled from Big Sandy to Green River, 11 miles, forded the river and camped on its banks. Many persons were sick & it was late before they were in camp. Bros. Atwood, Woodward & Christiansen staid behind the main body of the camp to urge on the sick & see that none were left behind. Mary Gurdlestone from Great Malton, Norfolk, England, aged 59 years, died in the morning. Joseph Oborn from Bath, Somersetshire, England, aged 43 years, died in the evening."
"Friday 31st. Left Green River, met with wagons from Fort Supply & the Valley to assist us on our journey; 7 wagons were from the former places & 3 from the latter."
"Saturday, Nov. 1st. Rolled out of camp; met several teams to assist our company on to the Valley. Drove 15 miles and camped. Daniel Osborn, from Norwich, Norfolk, England, aged 35 years, died in the evening."
James G. Willie's account: "On Wednesday the 22nd Bro. Wm. H. Kimball with 6 wagons went on with us towards Great Salt Lake City, and Bro. Geo. D. Grant with the remainder started to meet the companies in our rear. Two days previous to this we had encountered the first snow storm and on Friday the 24th met Bro. Reddick N. Allred and others with 6 wagons also on their way to help the rear companies and on the following day, being 15 miles west of the last crossing of the Sweetwater, came up with some brethren who were waiting there with supplies of flour and onions. On Friday the 31 we met 7 wagons from Fort Supply and 3 wagons from Great Salt Lake City, and on the 1st of November we met further help from the valley. On the next day Bro. Ephraim Hanks passed us and reported plenty of teams ahead. On this day we passed Fort Bridger, and on the next met fresh supplies for the rear companies and overtook Gilbert Gerrish's Train."
The following story is told about Ephraim Hanks: "I was down to Provo on a fishing expedition, and felt impressed to go to Salt Lake, but for what reason I knew not. On my way there, I stopped over night with Gurney Brown at Draper. Being somewhat fatigued after the hard day's journey, I retired to rest early, and as I lay wide awake in my bed, I heard a voice calling me by name and then saying: "The handcart people are in trouble, and you are wanted; will you go and help them?' I turned instantly in the direction from whence the voice came, and beheld an ordinary-sized man in the room. Without any hesitation I answered, 'Yes, I will go.' I then turned over to go to sleep, but had slept only a few minutes when the voice called a second time, repeating almost the same words as on the first occasion. My answer was the same as before. This was repeated the third time.
"When I got up the next morning, I said to Brother Brown, 'The handcart people are in trouble, and I have promised to go out and help them.'
"After breakfast I hastened on to Salt Lake and arrived there on the Saturday preceding the Sunday on which the call was made for volunteers to go and help the last handcart company in. When some of the brethren responded by saying that they would be ready to start in a few days, I spoke out at once, saying, 'I am ready now.'
"The next day I was wending my way eastward over the mountains with a light wagon, all by myself. About ten miles east of Green river, I met quite a number of teams that had been sent to the relief of the belated companies but had turned back on account of the deep snow. Those in charge had come to the conclusion that the emigrants as well as the twenty-seven heroes who had gone to their relief, had all perished, and they did not propose to risk their lives by going any further.
"I helped myself to such things as I was in need of, and continued on my way. Just before I reached South Pass, I was overtaken by one of the worst storms that I ever witnessed. Near the summit, I came to a wagon partly loaded with provisions in charge of Reddick N. Allred. After enjoying a needed rest, I secured from him a saddled horse and pack animal, and continued on my way in snow almost to my waist." (Improvement Era, vol. 17, pp. 290-294)
William Woodward's journal: "Sunday, 2nd (November). Camp rolled out. Ephraim Hanks passed our camp this morning, bringing news from the Valley of many teams on the road, & that he was going on to the rear companies to meet them. Bros. Willie, Woodward, & Christiansen staid behind to bring up the sick. This morning we had not teams enough to haul the feeble that were left behind. After a short time several teams came on from the Valley & picked up the sick. The brethren that staid behind were late into camp. The company camped about half a mile west of Fort Bridger, travelled about 15 miles. James Cole of Fort Supply married Lucy Ward of the 4th Handcart Company at Fort Bridger in the evening. Bro. Willie's feet were in such a bad condition from frost that he was unable to walk to the camp; a wagon was sent for him. Peter Madsen from Jutland, Denmark, aged 49 years, died in the evening."
Sunday, November 2nd, President Young delivered a discourse in the Tabernacle, stating: "We can return home and sit down and warm our feet before the fire, and can eat our bread and butter, etc., but my mind is yonder in the snow, where the immigrating Saints are, and my mind has been with them ever since I had the report of their start from Winter Quarters, on the 3rd of September. I cannot talk about anything, I cannot go out or come in, but what in every minute or two minutes my mind reverts to them; and the questions—whereabouts are my brethren and sisters who are on the Plains, and what is their condition—force themselves upon me and annoy my feelings all the time. And were I to answer my own feelings, I should do so by undertaking to do what the conference voted I should not do, that is, I should be with them now in the snow, even though it should be up to the knees, up to the waist, or up to the neck." (Utah, p. 228)
William Woodward's journal: "Monday, November 3rd. Several wagons came into our camp from the Valley to assist us on our journey this morning. We rolled out of camp about 11 a.m., passed Gilbert & Gerrish's merchant train going on slowly to the Valley. Crossed the Basin Rim, forded Muddy Creek & camped on its banks. Some 10 ox teams with wagons were camped alongside us & were on their way to meet the rear companies.
James G. Willie's account: "On Monday the 3rd it was deemed prudent to send an express to the First Presidency presenting the state of things generally on the plains. For this purpose Bro. Kimball volunteered to go and did go in company with Bro. Thomas. Before starting Pres. Kimball appointed Bro. Gould Captain of the horse teams and Bro. Wm. Hyde of the ox teams. On the 4th we met Bro. Blair with 3 wagons and other brethren with teams.
"Also on November 4th Brother Franklin B. Wooley came along with a message from President Brigham Young that some freight which had been left behind at Fort Bridger must be taken in this season. So I immediately dispatched some brethren with wagons and teams back for the freight in question."
William Woodward's journal: "Tuesday 4th. Potatoes, onions & clothing were distributed among the different hundreds in the evening." (W.H. Kimball & Bro. Thomas went on to the Valley this morning.)
"Friday 5th. Travelled about 23 miles & camped. Peter Madsen from Copenhagen, Denmark, aged 66 years, died during the day; Susannah Osborn from Norwich, Norfolk, England, aged 33 years, died this day. A snowstorm came on this evening. The people as much exposed to cold from lying on the cold ground.
"Nov. 6th. Archibald McPhiel from Greenock, Argyleshire, Scotland, died about 2 a.m., aged 40 years. Much snow on the ground this morning & still more falling. Go down Echo Kanyon, roads very bad at the crossing of streams; forded Weber River & camped on its banks. It snowed most of the day. The camping ground presented a most dismal appearance as we rolled on to it. there being much snow on the ground & it being late at night. Rasmus P. Hansen from Denmark, aged 16 years, died this evening.
Friday 7th. Maria S. Jorgen from Lango, Denmark, aged 8 years, died; Theophitus Cox from Bristol, Somersetshire, England, aged 25 years died; William Empey from Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, England, aged 9 years, died. During the day we passed some teams going to relieve the rear companies.
"Saturday 8th. Travelled up the Kanyon about 3 miles & then ascended the Big Mountain, which was difficult for teams to gain the top; go down the mountain & camp about a mile from the Little Mountain. Bro. Blair left us early this morning for the Valley. We travelled about 13 miles during the day. W.H. Kimball came to camp this evening, also a load of provisions for the camp. W.H. Kimball & W. Woodward took an account of persons who had made engagements where they were going to stay in the mountains."
"Sunday 9th. Rhoda R. Oakey from Eldersfield, Worcestershire, England, aged 11 years, died this morning."
James G. Willie's account: "On Saturday, November 8th, President Kimball returned to us with a load of provisions which was timely succor to us. The next day, November 9th, a part of our train passed Captain Smoot's which, however, proceeded us into Great Salt Lake City where we arrived on that day. Brother Franklin D. Richards & L. W. Richards, besides many others, came to meet us on the Bench and preceded us into the city.
"On our arrival there the bishops of the different wards took every person who was not provided with a home to comfortable quarters. Some had their hands and feet badly frozen; but everything which could be done to alleviate their sufferings was done, and no want was left unadministered to. Hundreds of citizens flocked around the wagons on our way through the city, cordially welcoming their brethren and sisters to their new home in the mountains."
John Chistlett's [Chislett's] record: "From Bridger all our company rode, and this day I also rode for the first time on our journey. The entire distance from Iowa City to Fort Bridger I walked, and waded every stream from the Missouri to that point, except Elkhorn, which we ferried, and Green river which I crossed in a wagon."
There was one, Margaret Dalglish, from Scotland, who dragged her pitiful handful of possessions in her handcart to the very rim of the valley. When she looked down and saw the end of it, she tugged the cart to the edge of the road and gave it a push and watched it tumble and burst apart, scattering down the ravine the last things she owned on earth. She entered Salt Lake City to start a new life with nothing but her gaunt bones, her empty hands, and her stout heart. (Ordeal by Handcart by Wallace Stegner)
Captain James G. Willie's Handcart Company arrived in Great Salt Lake City Sunday, November 9, 1856. His son William, now eight years old, was so anxious to see his father that he walked to the mouth of Emigration Canyon. There he met him. James was delighted to see his son and lifted him into the wagon so that he could ride back with him. James' feet and legs wre wrapped in burlap sacks because his shoes had worn out. Both feet had been badly frozen when he went to find the rescue party. It was feared they would have to be amputated. James didn't think he would have the use of them. "There was nothing but his faith and the power of the priesthood and administration that saved his legs," testified Elizabeth, his wife, many times to her granddaughter Maud W. Hendry. James Simon Willie said just his feet were frozen.
William Page was a seventeen-year-old Willie Handcart Company member. One time when a buffalo was killed William made a pair of shoes out of the skin for an elderly lady. Later William was so hungry he swiped one of her shoes at night and cooked it over a bonfire and ate it. He gave his flour to the older lady who shared the same cart with him. Perhaps it was the same lady. To keep himself alive William would dig roots and peel bark from the trees to eat. He belonged to tent number 5 of the third or William Woodward's hundred. When William arrived in Salt Lake City, Mr. Henry W. Lawrence took him in and fed him milk and bread while he regained his strength. William became one of the famous Pony Express riders, riding between Salt Lake City and Fort Bridger in 1860-1861. The firm hired about eighty of the keenest, bravest and toughest young men available.
Mary Hurran (Wight), a Willie Company member, related: "We lacked sufficient clothing and bedding. My shoes were worn out, and my feet and legs were badly frozen. . . .I was placed in a wagon with two sick boys. The snow came down so fast and the wind blew so hard, that it drifted in the tracks of the wagon ahead, so that the driver of our wagon lost his way, and it was eleven o'clock at night before we were finally located by the rest of the company. During this time we had nothing but a few cracker crumbs to eat.
"When we arrived in Salt Lake City, we camped in the old tithing office lot. . . .We were met by Uncle George Reeder. When he saw what a pitiful condition we were in, he went for medical aid. Two doctors came back with him. In the meantime my mother had warmed some water and was engaged in soaking the rags from off my frozen legs and feet. One of the doctors remarked, 'She'll never get over this. There's nothing we can do here.' He did not expect that I would live more than a day or two at the most. They came back, however, in the morning and informed my father that the only way to save my life would be to have my legs amputated. They said that it would be necessary to amputate one leg just above the knee, and the other one directly below the knee. My father objected to this and said that his little girl had not walked for a thousand miles across the plains to have her legs cut off. The flesh fell away from the calves of my legs, so that it was necessary to grow new flesh. My mother put sweet oil on my legs. I remember that on several occasions after coming to Brigham City that father walked to Ogden to secure fresh beef to bind on my legs. It was three long years before I was able to walk."
Emily Hill was born at Warminster, Wiltshire, England, March 24, 1836. When but a mere child she was much concerned about her eternal salvation. Hungering and thirsting for truth, she searched the scriptures, invariably turning to the lives of the ancient prophets, and wondering why God did not still speak to man. In the year 1848 her family received a visit from a relative who had just embraced Mormonism, and from her they heard of Joseph Smith. Emily was baptized March 25, 1852. She and her older sister Julia had to leave their parents home in England and find employment in order to be active members of the Church. They were members of the Willie Handcart Company. She writes: "In the month of June 1857, firmly believing in the principle of plural marriage, I entered into it. The result of this marriage was one child only. For a little more than 3 years after said marriage my husband went on a mission to England and after I had worked for upwards of 4 years to maintain myself and little one, my husband himself sent me word that he never intended to set foot in Utah again. (He renounced the principle of celestial marriage, by virtue of which she had become his wife. Brigham Young later informed her that her husband had asked to be sent on a mission, for he wanted to leave.) And here I must be allowed to say in behalf of myself and other true women who have passed through such separations, and to whom perhaps, it is counted as nothing, no one can realize what such an ordeal is, unless they have been through it. All that I had hitherto suffered seemed like child's play compared to being deserted by the one in whom I had chosen to place the utmost confidence, who himself had fixed an impossible gulf between us by ignoring the very principles by which he had obtained me, leaving myself and my little one (for all he knew) to sorrow and destitution." (History of Utah by Orson F. Whitney, vol. 4, pp. 593-595)
The handcart trek was not the worst experience that happened in the life of Emily Hill Woodmansee, and it did not destroy her faith. She is the author of the meaningful hymn—
When dark and drear the skies appear,
And doubt and dread would thee enthrall,
Look up nor fear, the day is near,
And Providence is over all.
From heav'n above, His light and love
God giveth freely when we call;
Our utmost need is oft decreed,
And Providence is over all.
With jealous zeal God guards our weal,
And lifts our wayward thoughts above;
When storms assail life's bark so frail,
We seek the haven of His love.
And when our eyes transcend the skies,
His gracious purpose is complete;
No more the night distracts our sight—
The clouds are all beneath our feet.
The direst foe that mortals know
Can ne'er the honest heart appall,
Who holds this trust; that God is just,
And Providence is over all.
Should foes increase to mar our peace,
Frustrated all their plans shall fall.
Our utmost need is oft decreed,
And Providence is over all.
(Childrens' S.S. Hymn Book, third edition, 1899, No. 72, page 87)
"If all the days were fair And every dream came true, There'd be no need for prayer Or faith to guide us through." Edgar A. Guest
"If courage and endurance make a story, if human kindness and helpfulness and brotherly love in the midst of raw horror are worth recording, this half-forgotten episode of the Mormon migration is one of the great tales of the West and of America." (Ordeal by Handcart by Wallace Stegner)
On the 17th of November the Martin emigrants were filled with delight when they met William H. Kimball, who had taken charge of the Willie Company on October 22nd and had seen them through to the Valley, at the head of another relief party. After remaining in Salt Lake City one day, he, along with several other brethren, started back with several light wagons loaded with provisions and clothing.
The Edward Martin Handcart Company arrived in Great Salt Lake City Sunday, November 30th, three weeks after the Willie Company. When the Martin Company passed Florence, Nebraska, it consisted of 575 (or 576) persons. In the Willie Company there were 67 deaths and in the Martin Company there were 96 deaths.
"1856. December. Wed. 10.—On this and the following six days Capts. Wm. B. Hodgett's and John A. Hunt's companies of emigrants arrived in G.S.L. City, after much suffering, being helped in by the relief trains sent out from the Valley." (Church Chronology by Andrew Jenson, P. 57)
The Fourteenth General Epistle of the Presidency of the Church, printed in the Deseret News December 10, 1856, states:
This season's operations have demonstrated that the Saints, being filled with faith and the Holy Ghost, can walk across the plains, drawing their provisions and clothing on hand carts. The experience of this season will of course help us to improve in future operations; but the plan has been fairly tested and proved entirely successful…."
The local areas could not readily supply the total needs (animals, carts, lumber, etc.) of the many saints emigrating in 1856. This resulted in delays. The leaders over the various outfitting assignments and tasks worked with great diligence and sacrifice to meet this high demand. There was no breakdown in the leadership.
Over two thousand souls emigrated in 1856. In the period from 1856 to 1860, approximately eight thousand emigrants arrived in the United States bound for Utah. Of these 2,962 walked and pushed or pulled their handcarts across the plains. The tenth and last emigrant company to cross the plains with handcarts arrived in Great Salt Lake City September 24, 1860.
The last living child born to a Willie Handcart Company pioneer appears to be Veara Southworth Fife, age 88, living in Logan, Utah, as of August 1985. She was the youngest of thirteen children born to Chester Southworth and Agnes Caldwell. Her mother, who emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland, crossed the plains in the Willie Handcart Company at the age of ten.
Although some writers have tried to make something horrible out of the handcart business, using exaggerated descriptions and figures and criticizing the leaders, it was but an unfortunate affair, in which the leaders suffered with the rest. But nothing further than this can be justly charged to anyone." (Hubert H. Bancroft)