This Week in 1856 – Arrival in Salt Lake Valley – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques:

The next camp, on the 26th, was in a small canyon running out of the north side of Echo Canyon, a few miles above the mouth of the latter. Here a birth took place, and one of the relief party generously contributed part of his under linen to clothe the little stranger. The mother did quite as well as could have been expected, considering the unpropitious circumstances. So did the father who subsequently became a prosperous merchant of this city. The little new comer also did well, and was named Echo, (this is little Echo Squires).

On the 27th, the company camped on East Canyon creek, on the 28th, the Big Mountain was crossed, and the company camped at its west base. On the 29th, the company crossed over the Little Mountain, or part of it, and camped in Killian’s Canyon, near the head of emigration canyon, and on Sunday, the 30th of November, passed down the latter canyon and arrived in this city about noon, driving into East Temple Street as the congregation was leaving the old adobe tabernacle in the southwest corner of the Temple block.

The meeting of the emigrants with relatives, acquaintances and friends, was not very joyous. Indeed, it was very solemnly impressive. Some were so affected, that they could scarcely speak, but would look at each other until the sympathetic tears would force their way. In a short time, however, the emigrants were taken into the homes of their friends and made as comfortable as circumstances would permit them to be, while they thawed the frost out of their limbs and regained their health and strength.

From Some Must Push and Some Must Pull by Kenneth L. Rasmussen

So it was that the half-frozen Mary Taylor came to the North Kanyon [Bountiful] home of William Bert and Amanda Simmons. It is thought by some that Simmons took his wagon and his charge directly home, perhaps bypassing the stop in Salt Lake to receive the greeting of Brigham Young.

Mary hovered between life and death for more than a week before making substantial progress. Mary was suffering from malnutrition and severe frostbite. Among other things, Amanda applied warm tar packs to the afflicted parts of Mary’s body. It was a common remedy of the day and seemed to have some therapeutic effects, including having the ability to help remove dead or decaying flesh from the body. Amanda nursed her so carefully the “she lost neither finger nor toe”, though it was said her legs had been frozen black to above her knees. Others from the handcart companies lost fingers and toes, arms or legs from the effects of freezing them.

This is my last post about my great-great-grandmother’s journey with the Martin Handcart company in 1856. I’ve learned so much over the last few months in following day by day as much as I could what happened to Mary on her way to Utah. “The Price We Paid: the extraordinary story of the Willie and Martin Handcart pioneers” by Andrew D. Olsen was recommended by couple of the missionaries at Martin’s Cove. Reading it gave me a much clearer understanding of everything that happened than anything else I’ve read. I would also recommend it to anyone with interest in these two handcart companies.



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