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Mormon Handcart

Historic Sites

Time Line: Rescues of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies and the Hodgetts and Hunt Wagon Companies

4 May 1856

The Thornton sails from England, carrying most of the people who will be part of the Willie handcart company.

25 May 1856

The Horizon sails from England, carrying most of the people who will make up the Martin handcart and the Hodgetts and Hunt wagon companies.

14 June 1856

The Thornton arrives in New York City.

26 June 1856

Willie company members reach Iowa City, Iowa, three days after the third handcart company had left the city.

30 June 1856

The Horizon arrives in Boston, Massachusetts.

8 July 1856

The Martin, Hunt, and Hodgetts company members who traveled on the Horizon arrive in Iowa City, Iowa.

15 July 1856

The Willie company leaves Iowa City.

22 July 1856

The first members of the Martin company leave Iowa City, with others following on July 25.

30 July 1856

The Hodgetts wagon company leaves Iowa City.

4 August 1856

The Hunt wagon company leaves Iowa City.

11 August 1856

The Willie company reaches Florence, Nebraska.

13 August 1856

Levi Savage encourages Willie company members to wait until spring to continue their journey.

16 August 1856

The Willie company leaves Florence.

22 August 1856

The Martin company reaches Florence, Nebraska.

25 August 1856

The Martin company leaves Florence.

27 August 1856

The Hodgetts company reaches Florence.

28 August 1856

The Hunt company begins to arrive at Florence.

29 August 1856

The Hodgetts company begins to leave Florence.

31 August 1856

The Hunt company leaves Florence.

30 September 1856

The Willie company reaches Fort Laramie.

4 October 1856

Daily flour rations for the Willie company are reduced from 16 ounces per adult to 12 ounces.

4 October 1856

The Martin company passes Scotts Bluff, Nebraska.

4 October 1856

Elder Franklin D. Richards arrives in Salt Lake City and reports that additional companies are still on the plains. President Brigham Young begins to formulate a relief plan.

5 October 1856

Brigham Young issues an urgent plea during Sunday services calling for assistance to be provided to the pioneer companies still on the trail.

7 October 1856

The first relief company, under the direction of George D. Grant, leaves Salt Lake City with wagons filled with food, clothing, and other supplies gathered in response to Brigham Young’s request.

8 October 1856

The Martin and Hodgetts companies reach Fort Laramie.

9 October 1856

The Hunt company camps near Fort Laramie.

14 October 1856

Two days east of Fort Bridger, George D. Grant sends express riders ahead to locate the companies.

15 October 1856

The Willie company passes Independence Rock and Devil’s Gate. Flour rations are further reduced.

19 October 1856

The Willie company has issued the last of their flour, and the first snowstorm of the season hits. At midday they joyously greet the express rescuers who had been sent on October 14 to let them know that help is on the way. The Willie company continues on to the Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater, where they camp for the night.

19 October 1856

The Martin and Hodgetts companies cross the Platte River for the last time during the season’s first winter storm. The Hunt company reaches this crossing but does not cross.

19 October 1856

After assuring the Willie company that help and food are a day or two away, the express rescuers anxiously push on to locate the other companies, having been instructed not to go farther than Devil’s Gate. George D. Grant leaves Redick Allred and a few other rescuers near South Pass to establish a base camp. Grant and the rest of his men push forward and camp below the mouth of Willow Creek, on the banks of the Sweetwater.

20 October 1856

Captain James Willie and Joseph Elder find George D. Grant’s rescue company at Willow Creek, guided by a sign placed by rescuer Harvey Cluff.

20 October 1856

The Martin, Hunt, and Hodgetts companies awake to snow on the ground. The Martin company travels a few miles, the Hodgetts company travels 10 miles to Red Buttes, and the Hunt company does not travel.

21 October 1856

The Willie company receives needed supplies with the arrival of George D. Grant’s rescue team and supply wagons.

21 October 1856

The Martin company travels a few more miles.

22 October 1856

George D. Grant’s rescue team divides, and he places William Kimball in charge of leading the Willie company to Salt Lake City. Six of the rescue wagons and several rescuers stay to help the Willie company. The company moves about 10 miles to the base of Rocky Ridge.

22 October 1856

The Hunt company crosses the Platte River for the last time and makes camp about one mile from the crossing.

22 October 1856

Members of the rescue company and their 8 to 10 supply wagons head east to find the other companies.

23 October 1856

The Willie company undertakes a brutal trek over Rocky Ridge in a blizzard.

23 October 1856

The Martin company joins the Hodgetts company at Red Buttes (Bessemer Bend).

24 October 1856

Thirteen individuals from the Willie company are buried in a common grave. The company receives additional assistance as six rescue wagons from the South Pass camp reach them.

25 October 1856

Two more members of the Willie company are buried before the company leaves camp. The company travels to the last camp on the Sweetwater, where they meet a few additional rescuers.

25 October 1856

The Martin company reduces daily flour rations to eight ounces per adult and four ounces per child.

26 October 1856

The Willie company crosses South Pass.

26 October 1856

George D. Grant’s rescue company meets up with the express riders, who are waiting near Devil’s Gate as instructed. Church leaders in Salt Lake City issue a call for more individuals, teams, and wagons to go to the aid of those still on the plains.

27 October 1856

George D. Grant sends express riders east of Devil’s Gate to search for the Martin, Hodgetts, and Hunt companies. The rescuers move into a cove in the mountains to have better access to wood for fuel and to forage for their animals. Additional rescuers, including Ephraim Hanks, leave Salt Lake City.

28 October 1856

The express riders reach the Martin and Hodgetts companies, which are still camped at Red Buttes (Bessemer Bend), and the Hunt company, at the last crossing of the Platte, with news that help and supplies had been sent.

28 October 1856

Teams from Fort Supply are enlisted to go to the aid of the Willie company.

29 October 1856

The Martin, Hodgetts, and Hunt companies resume their journey west, having been encouraged by the express riders to push on.

30 October 1856

The Martin and Hodgetts companies camp at Willow Springs, and the Hunt company arrives at Red Buttes (Bessemer Bend).

30 October 1856

Express riders reach George D. Grant near Devil’s Gate with word that they had found the last three companies.

31 October 1856

Ten supply wagons (seven from Fort Supply and three from Salt Lake City) meet the Willie company west of Green River.

31 October 1856

The Martin and Hodgetts companies meet rescue wagons at Greasewood Creek.

1 November 1856

Additional rescuers from the valley meet the Willie company.

2 November 1856

The Willie company camps near Fort Bridger. Ephraim Hanks passes the Willie company and tells them that plenty of teams are coming to their aid.

2 November 1856

The Martin and Hodgetts companies reach Fort Seminoe, and the Hunt company camps at Willow Springs.

3 November 1856

The Willie company meets additional teams. All in the company are now able to ride in wagons.

3 November 1856

The Hunt company reaches Greasewood Creek.

3 November 1856

George D. Grant sends two express riders to take a letter to Brigham Young, reporting on the situation with the Martin, Hodgetts, and Hunt companies and to request additional help.

4 November 1856

The Martin company crosses the Sweetwater River with the assistance of rescuers, who help set up camp for the company in the same cove where they had been camping. Members of the Hodgetts company, with help from rescuers, begin to empty their wagons and store goods at Fort Seminoe to make room for people to ride in the wagons.

5 November 1856

The Martin company’s daily flour rations are reduced to four ounces for adults and two ounces for children. The Hunt company arrives at Fort Seminoe.

6 November 1856

Members of the Hunt company, with help from rescuers, begin to empty their wagons and store goods at Fort Seminoe to make room for people to ride in the wagons.

9 November 1856

Rescuers and rescue wagons bring the Willie company into Salt Lake City.

9 November 1856

Emptied wagons leave Fort Seminoe and travel to the cove, where they pick up members of the Martin company. Most of the handcarts are left behind, but many people still have to walk. The companies leave the cove and travel about five miles toward Salt Lake City.

9 November 1856

Daniel W. Jones and 19 other men stay at Fort Seminoe to guard the belongings of the people in the Hodgetts and Hunt companies until spring. At least 60 teams sent out in response to the October 26 call for additional help turn back before reaching the handcart companies.

10 November 1856

Ephraim Hanks meets the Martin company, dispenses buffalo meat, and reports that additional help is on the way. The Martin company’s daily flour rations are raised to eight ounces for adults and four ounces for children. The last of the Hunt company wagons leave Fort Seminoe, providing more wagons to carry people.

11 November 1856

Having learned that some rescuers have turned around prior to reaching the stranded companies, Brigham Young sends four men to order them to turn around again and push ahead until the companies are met. Additional wagons from Fort Supply go to aid the companies still on the trail.

13 November 1856

The Martin company meets the first of the rescue wagons sent from Salt Lake City in late October.

13 November 1856

Brigham Young receives the letter that George D. Grant wrote on November 3 outlining the situation and the need for additional help.

16 November 1856

With the arrival of additional supply wagons, the daily flour rations for members of the Martin company are increased to 16 ounces for adults and 8 for children. The company crosses Rocky Ridge, with most company members riding in wagons.

18 November 1856

The Martin company meets additional rescue wagons at the station that had been established near South Pass. There are enough wagons that all can ride.

19 November 1856

The Hodgetts company crosses South Pass.

21 November 1856

The Hunt company meets four rescue wagons, which take in 10 company members per wagon.

22 November 1856

Oxen sent from Fort Bridger arrive to help pull wagons for the Hodgetts company.

23 November 1856

The Martin company reaches Fort Bridger.

23 November 1856

Another call is issued in Salt Lake City for additional men and animals to go and assist the companies still on the trail.

28 November 1856

Brigham Young calls upon communities outside the Salt Lake Valley to send help to those on the plains.

30 November 1856

Rescuers and rescue wagons bring the Martin company into Salt Lake City.

2 December 1856

The Hodgetts and Hunt companies begin to arrive at Fort Bridger.

2 December 1856

Sixty more wagons leave Salt Lake City to go to the aid of the Hodgetts and Hunt companies.

4 December 1856

The last of the Hodgetts and Hunt companies reach Fort Bridger.

6 December 1856

Word is received at Fort Bridger that additional help is on the way.

7 December 1856

The first of the wagons sent on December 2 reach Fort Bridger.

10 December 1856

The last of the Hodgetts and Hunt companies begin leaving Fort Bridger, assisted by those sent from Salt Lake to help them.

15 December 1856

Rescuers and rescue wagons bring the Hunt and Hodgetts company into Salt Lake City.