This Week in 1856 – News of Rescue – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw:

In the midst of all this uncertainty and doubt, our hopes were realized for lo and behold, Joseph A. Young and two others with him, came riding into camp. Voices from all parts of the camp rang out, “help for the camp.” We all rushed together to hear the news. He told us that there were about 10 Wagons loaded with flour, sent out from the valley for our relief, and was about 50 miles ahead of us at a place called Devil’s Gate.

From John Jacques:

The 28th of October was the red letter day to this handcart expedition. On that memorable day, Joseph A. Young, Daniel W. Jones and Abel Garr, galloped unexpectedly into the camp amid the cheers and tears and smiles of the emigrants. These three men, being an express from the most advanced relief company from Salt Lake, brought the glad word that assistance, provisions and clothing were near, that ten wagons were waiting at Devil’s Gate for the emigrants which intelligence had been previously communicated to Captain Hodgett’s wagon company, in camp hard by, and first reached by the express, who after a very brief stay in the handcart camp, pushed on to Captain Hunt’s wagon company, encamped on the Platte, about ten miles below and beyond the handcart company. The express stayed with Hunt’s company for the night.

All was now animation and bustle in the handcart camp, and everybody was busy at once, in making preparations for a renewed start in the morning. The revived spirits of the company were still further exhilarated by an increased ration of flour that day, three quarters of a pound, I believe. With cheered hearts and renewed hopes, the emigrants retired to their beds that night, and no doubt many of the sleepers made pleasant excursions into the mystic regions of dreamland.

From Samuel Openshaw:

In the morning, we summoned all our efforts and strength, impulsed with the prospect of deliverance, and we again started on our journey.

From John Jacques:

Early on the morning of the 29th, the handcart company left the Platte and struck across the country for the Sweetwater. Joseph A. Young and his companions, returned from Hunt’s company, over took Martin’s company before night and camped with it at Rocky Avenue, about 36 miles east of Devil’s Gate.

In the afternoon of the last day of October, the company met Cyrus H. Wheelock, Daniel W. Jones, and David Garr, who were going to meet the various companies. About dark, the company arrived at Greasewood Creek, between thirty and forty miles from from the last crossing of the Platte. At Greasewood Creek, were found George D. Grant, Robert T. Burton, Charles Decker, D. G. Webb and others, with six wagons, laden with flour and other things from Salt Lake, who had come to the assistance of the belated emigrants. This was another time of rejoicing. Some of this relief party had met the emigrants a mile or two away from camp and had helped to pull some of the carts along. Here, some stockings boots and other clothing were distributed among the emigrants, also a few onions, which were highly prized, and pound of flour rations was served out, which was the daily ration, with the exception of about two days, if I recollect rightly, thenceforth to the end of the journey.

From Samuel Openshaw:

We now had one pound of flour per day, which in a measure began to recruit our strength so that we were enabled to perform the journey before us. The brethren which came out to meet us, did administer every comfort and help that was within their power, to the sick and the infirm. We continued our journey until we arrived at Devil’s Gate.

From John Jacques:

This was the beginning of better days, as to food and assistance, but the cold grew more severe, and was intense much of the way. On the evening of November 1st, the handcart company camped at the Sweetwater bridge, on this side of the river, about five miles on the other side of Devil’s Gate, arriving three about dark. There was a foot or eighteen inches of snow on the ground, which, as there were but one or two spades in the camp, the emigrants had to shovel away with their frying pans, or tin plates, or anything they could use for that purpose before they could pitch their tens, and then the ground was frozen so hard, that it was almost impossible to drive the tent pegs into it. Some of the men were so weak, that it took them an hour or two to clear the places for their tents and set them up. They would shovel and scrape away at the hard snow for a few minutes, and then rest, then shovel and scrape and rest again and so on.

The next day, the company moved to Devil’s Gate, where there were more of the relief party with wagons and provisions. The wagon companies arrived within two or three days after.

Devil’s Gate, at that time, was a sort of fort or trading post, consisting of several log houses or huts, but vacated when the emigrants were there, as it was not a pleasant place for wintering. But those log huts, with generous wood fires on the hearths, seems very comfortable to the emigrants, thought not large enough to accommodate more than a few of them.

An earnest counsel was held to determine whether to endeavor to winter the emigrants at that point, or push them on to the Great Salt Lake, as fast as possible, It was decided to continue the march to Salt Lake the same season. Two or three days after arriving at Devil’s Gate, the handcart company was part reorganized, and most of the carts were left there. Two, I believe, of the best remaining, were retained for each Hundred, and those were loaded chiefly with cooking utensils, such as frying pans bake kettles, sauce pans ,and camp kettles, so that the loads in these few carts were of a weighty nature. The remainder of the baggage of the company, was put on the wagons.

When the wagon companies came up to Devil’s Gate, it was decided to store most of their freight in the log houses or huts, for the winter, which was done, and twenty men were left, under the direction of Daniel Jones, to take care of the goods. Those twenty men had a hard time of it before they were relieved the following summer, and the goods brought along to the valley. The freight was left behind because the teams were unable to haul it further.

On the 3rd of November, Joseph Young and Abel Garr were sent as an express to Salt Lake to convey information as to the situation of the emigrants. In preparing for this express journey home, Joseph Young put on three or four pairs of woolen socks, a pair of mocassin’s, and a pair of buffalo hide overshoes, with the wool on, and then remarked, “There, if my feet freeze with those on, they must stay frozen till I get to Salt Lake.” This express arrived at it’s destination at 4 o’clock on the morning of the 13th of November.

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