This Week in 1856 – Ephraim Hanks – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques:

While on the Sweetwater Ephraim Hanks was met one day. He had left his wagon behind him and came on alone, on horseback, and he managed to kill a buffalo. Some of the others of the relief parties, further this way, had come to the conclusion that the rear companies of the emigration had perished in the snow, but Ephraim was determined to go along, even though alone, and see for himself.

From Ephraim K. Hanks:

Ephraim Hanks, a prominent member of the 19th-...

Ephraim Hanks, a prominent member of the 19th-Century Latter Day Saint movement, a Mormon pioneer and a well known leader in the early settlement of Utah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being deeply concerned about the possible fate of the emigrants, and feeling anxious to learn of their condition, I determined to start out on horseback to meet them, for this purpose, I secured a pack-saddle, and two animals from Brother Allred, and began to make my way slowly through the snow, alone.

After traveling for some time, I met Joseph A. Young, and one of the Garr boys, two of the relief company which had been out from Salt Lake City, to help the companies. They had met the emigrants, and were now returning with important dispatches from the camps, to the headquarters of the church, reporting the awful condition of the companies.

In the meantime, I continued on m lonely journey, and the night after meeting Elders Young and Garr, I camped in the snow in the mountains. As I was preparing to make a bed in the snow, with the fe articles that my pack animal carried, I though how comfortable a buffalo robe would be on such an occasion, and also how I would relish a little buffalo meat for supper. Before lying down for the night, I asked the Lord to send me a buffalo. Now, I am a firm believer in the efficiency of prayer, and after praying as I did on that lonely night, on the South Pass, I looked around me and spied a buffalo bull, within fifty yards of my camp. I had certainly not expected so immediate an answer to my prayer. . . taking deliberate aim at the animal, my first shot brought him down. . . I was soon busily engaged skinning my game.

Early the next morning, I was on my way again, and soon reached what is known as the Ice Springs bench. There, I happened upon a herd of buffalo, and killed a nice cow. . . I was impressed to do this, although I did not know why until a few hours later, but the thought occurred to my mind, that the hand of the Lord was in it, as it was a rare thing to find buffalo herds around that place, at this late part of the season. I skinned and dressed the cow, then cut up port of it’s meat, in long strips, and loaded both my horses with it. Thereupon, I resumed my journey and traveled on till towards evening.

I think the sun was about an hour high in the west,w hen I spied something in the distance, that looked like a black streak in the snow. As I go near to it, I perceived it moved; then, I was satisfied that this was the long looked for handcart company, led by Captain Edward Martin. I reached the ill-fated train just as the emigrants were camping for the night.

The sight that met my gaze as I entered their camp, can never be erased from my memory. The starved forms and haggard countenances of the poor suffers, as they moved about slowly, shivering with cold, to prepare their scanty evening meal, was enough to touch the stoutest heart. When they saw me coming, they hailed me With joy inexpressible, and when they further beheld the supply of fresh meat I brought into their camp, their gratitude knew no bounds. Flocking around me, one would say, “Oh, please, give me a small piece of meat,” another would exclaim, “My poor children are starving, do give me a little,” and children with tears in their eyes would call out, “Give me some, give me some.” At first, I tried to wait on them, and handed out the meat as they called for it, but finally, I told them to help themselves. Five minutes later, both my horses had been release of their extra burden, the meat was all gone, and the next few hours found the people in camp busily engaged cooking and eating it with thankful hearts.

A prophecy had been made by one of the brethren, that the company should feast on buffalo meat, when their provisions might run short. My arrival in their camp, loaded with meat, was the beginning of the fulfillment of that prediction, but only the beginning, as I afterwards shot and killed a number of buffalo for them as we journeyed along.

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