Mary Book Update

cover illustration by Kimberli Johnson

We are so close to being ready to print a proof copy of our Mary Taylor story book. In a perfect world we will be doing that the end of the week. Since the world isn’t usually perfect it might be a few days later than that. Kim got me two more illustrations done. The one above will do double duty as the cover and one of the middle illustration. On the cover I cropped the image in to show just Mary.

The illustration below will be the first one in the book and then we will crop it down as tight as we can for the last image in the book. I’ve got at least one more edit on the text to do. And if a friend who teaches writing classes has time there will be another one before the we print the proof. The plan is to present the proof copy to my mom on her 90th birthday at the end of the month. I know she is going to love it even if no one else does.

first and last illustration by Kimberli Johnson

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New Mary Text

Here is the latest version of the text for the children’s storybook about my great-great-grandmother. I’d love some feedback if you have suggestions.

Grandma Mary, will you tell me a story?

Of course, Irene, what story would you like to hear?

Tell me again, Grandma Mary, about how you came to Zion.

OK, I’ll tell you. The story starts far away in England. Close your eyes, Irene, and imagine you could travel back in time to when I was a little girl, just your age. I had a happy childhood. My grandmother would tell me stories too. I was an only child because my sisters and brother died when they were tiny babies. I was rather delicate when I was young so I was raised on milk tea.

I grew up in a cozy village with lots of beautiful Elm trees. That is why we called it Coton-in-the-Elms.

But Grandma Mary, that sounds like there was cotton in the trees. I don’t see why that was the name of your village.

Irene, in the English way of speaking coton means cottage or little house, so Coton-in-the-Elms means cottage in the Elm trees.

Grandma Mary, why did you leave England? It sounds like such a beautiful place.

Coton-on-the-Elms was a beautiful place and we were a happy family but things started to change after the missionaries came. It didn’t happen right away, but the after the missionaries came to our village, our lives began to change. In most ways those changes were good. But some changes where very hard. I was just a little older than you when the missionaries came. They taught us about Jesus and Heavenly Father’s visit to the Prophet Joseph Smith. We also read more about Jesus in the Book of Mormon. My family believed what the missionaries taught and we were baptized in a nearby river.

Was the river cold, Grandma Mary?

No, it was July when I got baptized and the water felt good. Plus I felt all warm and happy inside. It was the Holy Ghost telling me I was doing the right thing. We were happier than we had ever been because we knew how much Jesus and Heavenly Father loved us and that we had a living prophet to guide us. But as the years went by some of our neighbors believed bad things about our new church. And some of them were mean to us and the Prophet said we should gather to Zion where we could be safe and live with other saints.

Grandma Mary, why didn’t you leave England while you were still young like me.

Irene, my family was too poor to go to Zion. We worked hard but we still didn’t have enough money yet for the long trip. When I got older I learned to sew from my uncle who was a tailor. It took me a long tome to get good at making dresses but it helped me to earn more money. I was lucky because when I met, and then married, a handsome young man named William Upton, I could make my wedding dress.

We all dreamed of going to Zion far away from Coton-in-the-Elms in America. In Zion they were building temples to the Lord and we would be with many other saints. Plus we could hear the Prophet speak the words of God. So we continued to work hard and save money to go to Zion.

So Grandma Mary, how long did it take you to have enough money to come to Zion?

Before we had enough money, Irene, a most wonderful thing happened. The Prophet Brigham Young came up with a plan to help Mormons like me and my family go to Zion for less money. We would pull handcarts, instead of needing horses or oxen to pull wagons. Plus we could finish paying for the trip after we got to Zion. So in May of 1856 me and my family sailed with lots of other Mormons on the ship Horizon from Liverpool England to Boston in America.

What was it like on the ship, Grandma Mary?

Well Irene, it took many days for us to sail across the ocean and some days the seas were rough making everyone seasick. There were more than 800 of us going to Zion so it was crowded. We kept busy sewing the tents we would soon be using as we crossed the plains and we sang songs. The children played as quietly as they could but with so many people it was often very noisy.

One day, as we got closer to America, the ship was surrounded by thick fog. We were scared because we couldn’t see, but all the saints prayed and the fog parted just in time for the ship to avoid an iceberg. The fog closed around the ship again but there were no more icebergs and we were safe.

What happened, Grandma Mary, when you finally got to America?

I remember how excited I was when I finally stepped off the ship in Boston. It felt so good to be on solid ground again, but we still had a long way to go to reach Zion. We all climbed into train cars that had been used for cows to continue our journey. It wasn’t very comfortable but we were moving toward Zion, so we endured the hard benches and tight spaces.
One night when the train was stopped a mob of angry men surrounded us as we slept. They were mean and wanted to hurt us because we were Mormons, just like in England. But the Lord protected us and the mob left without hurting anyone.

Another night in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a fire. That was scary too, but the saints helped to put the fire out and everyone was safe. Finally we came to the end of the train ride.

Where you in Zion then, Grandma Mary?

No, Irene, in those days Iowa City, more than a 1,000 miles from Zion, was the end of the railroad tracks, By the time we began the hardest part of our journey it was July and very hot. Even though we had traveled for more than two months we still had a long way to go yet to reach Zion. We still wanted to get to Zion so me and my family loaded up a wooden handcart with our few belongings to begin walking across the plains, pulling and pushing our handcart.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Indians along the trail. I was excited and scared at the same time because there were stories about Indians hurting people. But these Indians just looked at us, they didn’t hurt us. I was so grateful. Later in our journey, at Fort Laramie, we saw more Indians and the kind Indian children shared candied fruit with the pioneer children.

Grandma Mary, was did you ever get tired?

Yes, Irene, it was hard work. It was so different from our life in England. But we were going to Zion so each day I walked, pushing and pulling with my mother, father, husband and cousin in the Martin handcart company. Gradually we got used to it. Each night twenty of us slept together in a big round tent with our feet toward the middle and we cooked over fires.

But there were good times too. When we camped by a river, the children had fun swimming. I enjoyed seeing children, just like you, having fun. We had much to do each night in camp, yet we always found time to sing songs. We were glad we were going to Zion We gathered wood or buffalo chips so we could make our fires. The handcart would break and need to be fixed. And we were getting worn down. Time was running out to get to Zion before winter came so we traveled as far as we could each day.

How did you do it, Grandma Mary, walking day after day, pushing and pulling a handcart?

When I felt tired or discouraged I would sing the Handcart Song. The words and the melody helped me continue one step at a time. It gave me strength when the voices of other pioneers around me sang too. The words and the melody would lift our spirits and we could keep going.

There was a big problem. It was taking us too long to get to Zion and we didn’t have enough food. So Elder Franklin D. Richards, an apostle, road ahead in a fast carriage, to tell the Prophet that the handcart pioneers needed help and more food. We prayed everyday for help to come and we kept pushing along as fast as we could go toward Zion, hoping to get help before winter.

Grandma Mary, did you make it to Zion before the winter storms came?

Irene we didn’t. The weather had turned from hot to cold in just a few days.
I remember the day we crossed the Platte River. It started to snow and we had to wade across the river through the cold water. It was so cold that I even saw ice floating in the river. We had to cross many icy cold rivers to reach Zion. Everyone was hungry including me. We worked hard every day and the cold weather made it worse because there wasn’t much food and we had to make it last as long as possible. I felt hungry everyday. But I wanted to reach Zion, so I walked and pushed and pulled anyway, just like everyone else.

What about the help that Elder Richards promised to send, Grandma Mary?

Well Irene, we didn’t know this at the time but help was on its way. Hundreds of miles away in Salt Lake City, Elder Richards arrived in time for General Conference and told Brigham Young about me and the other handcart pioneers. He said we needed food and help to make it safely to Zion. The prophet told the men to gather food and wagons and then go and find us on the plains. Then he ended church early so everyone could help get the wagons ready to go.

Tell me, Grandma Mary, about the man who rescued you.

Well Irene, a righteous man named Burt Simmons already had a stout carriage full of food and ready to go. He and many others followed the Prophet’s directions and quickly left Salt Lake to help me, my family and the other pioneers reach Zion. They hurried as fast as they could to reach us before winter came. But they didn’t make it because the snow came very early that year.

How did you keep going, Grandma Mary, not knowing when help would come?

I prayed all the time, Irene. All of us did and we sang songs. I was so hungry and so cold. There was lots of snow and it was hard to pull our handcarts. No one had enough to eat. Some people died, including my mother, my father and my husband. I was so sad but I knew that my only hope was to keep moving on toward Zion and the help that was coming. A big winter storm came and the snow was so deep that we had to stop for a few days in a place now called Martin’s Cove. Soon Burt Simmons found me and he and other rescuers helped all the pioneers make it to the Salt Lake Valley. I was so weak and my feet were frozen. I don’t remember much about that part of the journey.

Grandma Mary, how did you get better? Since your family died who helped you?

Burt Simmons drove me in his sturdy carriage to his home where his wife took good care of me. I was so happy to be warm and have enough to eat and I was finally in Zion. But it took a long time for her to nurse me back to good health. She even saved my feet from the frost bite. Many others lost fingers, toes and even feet because they were frozen. After several months I was strong again and could really start my new life in Zion.

I love that story Grandma Mary. You are so good, noble and kind. I want to be just like you when I grow up.

Thank you, Irene. The Lord has blessed me. I’ve been married in the temple and have nine children, your mother being the youngest. Plus I have 57 grandchildren just like you. I still remember what it was like to not have enough food to eat so I never waste any food, not even a potato peel. I’m so happy that I can tell you about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and how they have blessed me. Making it to Zion made all that possible. I never would have had the life I’ve had in England.

Grandma Mary, I’m so glad that you are my grandmother. Because of you the Lord has blessed me too.

Mary Text – Next Revision

Today I reread Brandy’s posts on Storytelling for Genealogist with the Mary book in mind. While it didn’t inspire me to take a whole new approach to the text it did help me to approach it a bit differently. I had been unsure about how to start the narrative off and Brandy’s advice on conflict and cost gave me better focus on what to do. I think the flow of the story is much improved. Plus I was able to improve the ending by comparing the beginning status to the end of the story. That was another great suggestion Brandy had in her third post in the series.

Another thing I came to better understand from Brandy’s series is that while my mom is very good at editing for spelling, punctuation etc., she isn’t able to help me with content editing. I was beginning to realize this but I didn’t know how to articulate what the challenge was. I also like Brandy’s hint to read it out loud. I was hoping to get my edits typed up today but I didn’t make it. But I should be able to get them done tomorrow and posted. Then I’m going to find someone to read it out loud so I can see how it sounds.

 

Mary Book – Text

Mary and her mother in England

Here is my current text for the children’s story book about my great-great grandmother, Mary Taylor. It has come a long way but I want to revisit it after Brandy Heineman finishes her series on storytelling for genealogists. I’m sure her posts will help me make the text for my book even better.

Grandma Mary, will you tell me a story?

Of course, Irene, what story would you like to hear?

Tell me again, Grandma Mary, about when you were little, like me.

OK, I’ll tell you. I had a happy childhood. My grandmother would tell me stories too. I was an only child because my sisters and brother died when they were tiny babies. I was rather delicate when I was young and I was raised on milk tea. Close your eyes, Irene, and imagine you could travel back in time to when I was a little girl, just your age.

I grew up, far away, across the ocean in England, in a cozy village with lots of beautiful Elm trees. That is why we called it Coton-in-the-Elms.

But Grandma Mary, that sounds like there was cotton in the trees. I don’t see why that was the name of your village.

Irene, in the English way of speaking coton means cottage or little house, so Coton-in-the-Elms means cottage in the Elm trees.

Grandma Mary, tell me about when the missionaries came to your village.

Oh, Irene, that was a glorious day. I was just a little older than you when the missionaries came. They taught us about Jesus and Heavenly Father’s visit to the Prophet Joseph Smith. We also read more about Jesus in the Book of Mormon. My family believed what the missionaries taught and we were baptized in a nearby river.

Was the river cold, Grandma Mary?

No, it was July when I got baptized and the water felt good. Plus I felt all warm and happy inside. It was the Holy Ghost telling me I was doing the right thing.

Grandma Mary, tell me about how you learned to make such beautiful dresses.

When I got older I learned to sew from my uncle who was a tailor. It took me a long time to learn to be a dressmaker. I was lucky because when I met, and then married, a handsome young man named William Upton, I could make my own wedding dress.

William and I dreamed of going to Zion far away from Coton-in-the-Elms in America. In Zion they were building temples to the Lord and we would be with many other saints. Plus we could hear the Prophet speak the words of God. Sometimes the people were mean to us because we had joined the church. But we didn’t have enough money to go to Zion.

Then, Irene, a most wonderful thing happened. The Prophet Brigham Young came up with a plan to help Mormons like me and my family go to Zion for less money. We would pull handcarts, instead of needing horses or oxen to pull wagons. So in May of 1856 me and my family sailed with lots of other Mormons on the ship Horizon from Liverpool England to Boston in America.

What was it like on the ship, Grandma Mary?

Well Irene, it took many days for us to sail across the ocean and some days the seas were rough making everyone seasick. There were more than 800 of us going to Zion so it was crowded. We kept busy sewing the tents we would soon be using as we crossed the plains and we sang songs. The children played as quietly as they could but with so many people it was often very noisy.

As we got closer to America, the ship was surrounded by thick fog. We were scared because we couldn’t see, but all the saints prayed and the fog parted just in time for the ship to avoid an iceberg. The fog closed around the ship again but there were no more icebergs and we were safe.

What happened, Grandma Mary, when you finally got to America?

I remember how excited I was when I finally stepped off the ship in Boston. It felt so good to be on solid ground again, yet our journey to Zion wasn’t over yet. We all climbed into train cars that had been used for cows to get to Iowa City. It wasn’t very comfortable but we were moving toward Zion.

One night when the train was stopped a mob of angry men surrounded us as we slept. They were mean and wanted to hurt us because we were Mormons. The Lord blessed us and the mob left without hurting anyone.

Another night in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a fire. That was scary too, but the saints helped to put the fire out and everyone was safe.

Tell me about after the train ride, Grandma Mary.

By the time we got to Iowa City and the end of the railroad tracks, it was really hot. We began the really hard part of our journey to Zion. We had been traveling for more than two months but we had a long way to go yet to reach the Salt Lake Valley. Me and my family loaded up a wooden handcart with our few belongings to begin our journey across the plains.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Indians along the trail. I was excited and scared at the same time because there were stories about Indians hurting people. But these Indians just looked at us, they didn’t hurt us. I was so grateful. Later in our journey, at Fort Laramie, we saw more Indians and the kind Indian children shared candied fruit with the pioneer children.

Grandma Mary, was it hard?

Yes, Irene, it was hard work. It was so different from our life in England. But we were going to Zion so each day I walked, pushing and pulling with my mother, father, husband and cousin in the Martin handcart company. Gradually we got used to it. Each night twenty of us slept together in a big round tent with our feet toward the middle and we cooked over fires.

But there were good times too. When we were camped by a river, the children had fun swimming. It was so good to see children, just like you, having some fun. We had much to do each night in camp. We gathered wood or buffalo chips so we could make our fires. The handcart would break and need to be fixed. And we were getting worn down. Time was running out to get to Zion before winter came so we traveled as far as we could each day.

What was it like Grandma Mary, walking day after day, pushing and pulling a handcart?
It was a long hard journey so I would sing the Handcart Song. The words and the melody helped me continue one step at a time. We didn’t have enough food to make it to Zion. So Elder Franklin D. Richards, an apostle, road ahead in a fast carriage, to tell the Prophet that the handcart pioneers needed help and more food. We prayed everyday for help to come and we kept pushing along as fast as we could go toward Zion.

Grandma Mary, tell me about crossing the icy rivers.

We had to cross many icy cold rivers to reach Zion. I remember the day we crossed the Platte River. The weather had turned from hot to cold in just a few days. It started to snow and we had to wade across the river through the cold water. It was so cold that I even saw ice floating in the river. Everyone was hungry including me. We worked hard every day and the cold made it worse because there wasn’t much food and we had to make it last as long as possible. I felt hungry everyday. But I walked and pushed and pulled anyway, just like everyone else, so that I could reach Zion.

What about the help that Elder Richards promised to send, Grandma Mary?

Well Irene, we didn’t know this but hundreds of miles away in Salt Lake City, Elder Richards arrived in time for General Conference and told Brigham Young about me and the other handcart pioneers. He said we needed food and help to make it safely to the Salt Lake Valley. The prophet told the men to gather food and wagons and then go and find us on the plains. Then he ended church early so everyone could help get the wagons ready to go.

Tell me, Grandma Mary, about the man who rescued you.

Well Irene, a righteous man named Burt Simmons already had a stout carriage full of food and ready to go. He and many others followed the Prophet’s directions and quickly left Salt Lake to help me, my family and the other pioneers. They hurried as fast as they could to reach us before winter came. But they didn’t make it before the snow because it came early that year.

How did you keep going, Grandma Mary, not knowing when help would come?

I prayed all the time, Irene. All of us did. I was so hungry and so cold. There was lots of snow and it was hard to pull our handcarts. We didn’t have enough to eat. Some people died, including my mother, my father and my husband. I was so sad but I knew I had to keep moving on toward Zion. The snow was so deep that we had to stop for a few days in a place now called Martin’s Cove. Soon Burt Simmons found me and he and other rescuers helped all the pioneers make it to the Salt Lake Valley. I was so weak and my feet were frozen. I don’t remember much about that part of the journey.

Grandma Mary, how did you get better?

Burt Simmons drove me in his sturdy carriage to his home where his wife took good care of me. It was a long time but she nursed me back to good health and even saved my feet from the frost bite. Many others lost fingers, toes and even feet because they were frozen. After several months I was strong again.

I love that story Grandma Mary. You are so good, noble and kind. I want to be just like you when I grow up.

Thank you, Irene. The Lord has blessed me. I’ve been married in the temple and have nine children, your mother being the youngest. Plus I have 57 grandchildren. I still remember what it was like to not have enough food to eat so I never waste any food, not even a potato peel. I’m so happy that I can tell you about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and how they have blessed me.

Grandma Mary, I’m so glad that you are my grandmother. Because of you the Lord has blessed me too.

I’m open to suggestions on my text. I feel very inadequate to write the text but I’m dedicated to making this project the best that I can.

Another Illustration for the Mary Book

I thought I would share the latest illustration for our Mary book project. This illustration is of Brigham Young telling the people in the Salt Lake Valley about the handcart pioneer in need of help. It is exciting to be making steady progress on getting this book finished. My mom turns 90 in a couple of months and this will be a major part of her birthday.

I’ve been working on the text and made some major changes to it which I think will make it more interesting. Plus during a brainstorming session we came up with the idea of having an image to search for in each illustration which relates to another story from the Martin Handcart company. The back of the book will give the images to search for and the little story. I think I’ll post the text on my next update.

 

More Illustration for the Mary Book

Sleeping in big round tent

Kimberli has been busy get more illustrations done for the Mary book. I’ve worked hard the last few days on the text and I’ve narrowed things down so the book isn’t so long. With these four new illustration we just have five to go plus the cover. My mom turns 90 the end of March so we have to have it done by then. She is going to love this book. The text is evolving in what I hope is a good way. I’m sure it still needs lots more work, but I’m going to work on some other projects for a few days and let it sit. Then I’ll look at it again with fresh eyes. I don’t consider myself a writer and I’ve prayed that someone else would come along to write this book. But no one has come along so I’m forging ahead, hoping for inspiration and a miracle so this book can really share the story of my great-great-grandmother.

Mary being nursed back to health

children playing in the river

Mary with a mob threatening

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.

 

This Week in 1856 – Rocky Ridge to Bear River – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques:

By this time, the shoes of many of the emigrants had “given out,” and that was no journey for shoeless men, women and children to make at such a season of the year, and trudge it on foot. As the emigrants proceeded on their terrible journey, there was no appreciable mitigation of the piercing wintry cold, but its intensity rather increased. The Rocky Ridge and the South Pass were crossed on the 18th of November, a bitterly cold day.

Mary received a pair of shoes from one of the rescuers. Her shoes had long since worn out and she wrapped her feet in canvas from discarded tents.

From John Jacques:

The snow fell fast and the wind blew piercingly from the north. For several days, the company had been meeting more relief teams, which had been urged on by the Joseph A. Young express, and as the company was crossing the South Pass, there was a sufficiency of wagons, for the first time, to carry all the people, and thenceforth, the traveling was more rapid. But it was much colder to ride in a wagon than to follow afoot, and a few of the sturdier of the emigrants preferred to hold on to the wagons and walk behind them. One stubborn pedestrian held out as long as he was allowed to do so. The driver repeatedly urged on him to get up and ride. “Oh, I shall freeze, if I do,” he replied. “Well, we are going to drive faster, and you’ll be left behind,” said the driver. Finally, with such argument, the emigrant was persuaded to get into the wagon. When he was seated, the driver said, “There now, you don’t get out to walk anymore.”

William Bert Simmons, one of the rescuers, put Mary in his wagon. She was semiconscious at times and half frozen.

From John Jacques:

That night, the company camped in the willows at Pacific Springs, about four miles west of the South Pass. The snow was still falling furiously, with one or two feet of it on the ground. Here, Robert T. Burton took charge of the relief companies.

On the 19th, the company camped at Little Sandy, having sage brush for fuel, and on the 20th, on the Big Sandy.

While camping on the Big Sandy, it seemed impossible to get warm, sleeping in a wagon. It was warmer sleeping with beds on the ground, where if the biting, frosty air got the upper hand of you, it could not get the underside of you as well, but it could do both in a wagon.

The handcart company all riding, was now traveling at the rate of twenty-five to thirty miles a day, and my narrative will naturally proceed more rapidly. On the 21st, the company camped at Green River, on the 22nd, near the junction of Ham’s and Black’s forks; on the 23rd, at Bridger; on the 24th, in the cedars on the Muddy, were good fires were had; and on the 25th at Bear River.

At this camp there was an abundance of dry and fallen timber, and great camp fires were made of a cor or more of logs and branches. Here Joseph Young and his brother Brigham were in camp.

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.

This Week in 1856 – Martin’s Cove – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques:

The great object now was, to save as many of the people as possible, to which everything else must give way, and the lives of the people depended in great degree, on the lives of the teams so it was essential to spare the animals all unnecessary labor.

Under this arrangement, the company started from Devil’s Gate, westward, and about three miles away, crossed the Sweetwater to the north side, and camped at a place, since known as Martin’s Ravine.

It is not exactly a ravine, but a recess, or opening in the mountains, which here ran along near the river. The passage of the Sweetwater at this point, was a severe operation to many of the company. It was the worst river crossing of the expedition. It was the last ford that the emigrants waded over. The water was not less than two feet deep, perhaps a little more in the deepest parts, but it was intensely cold. The ice was three or four inches thick, and the bottom of the river, muddy or sandy. I forget exactly how wide the stream was there, but I think thirty or forty yards. It seemed a good deal wider than that to those who pulled their handcarts through it. Before the crossing was completed, the shades of evening were closing around, and, as everybody knows, that is the coldest hour of the twenty-four, or at least it seems to be so, in a frosty time, and it seemed so then, for cold enough it was.

From Samuel Openshaw:

We traveled about two miles, crossed over the Sweetwater,  some on the ice and others waded through, which was about 3 1/2 feet deep. James Lord and myself pulled the handcart across the creek. The women and children were all carried across by some of the brethren who had come from the valley.

From John Jacques:

The teams, wagons, handcarts, and some of the men forded the river. A son of Heber C. Kimball, and a son of George D. Grant, and I believe several others of the relief party, waded the river, helping the handcarts through, and carrying the women and children, and some of the weaker of the men over. If I were certain of the names of all those brave waders, I would insert them here.

The handcart company rested in Martin’s ravine two or three or more days, though under the shelter of the northern mountains, it was a cold place. One night, the gusty wind blew over a number of the tents, and it was with difficulty some of the emigrants kept from freezing.

At length, preparations having been completed for a final start from Devil’s Gate and vicinity, the handcart company left the ravine. The precise date I cannot give, but I think it must have been about the 19th of November.  I cannot remember the handcarts after leaving the ravine, and my impression is that none were taken from there, but some persons of the company think that a few carts were taken along several days longer.

Be that as it may, by this time, there was a sufficiency of wagons to take in most, if not all, of the baggage of the company, and to carry some of the people.

It was a trying time, that day in leaving the ravine. One perplexing difficulty was to determine who should ride, for many must still walk, though, so far as I recollect, and certainly for most of the company, the cart pulling occupation was gone. There was considerable crying of women and children, and perhaps a few of the men, whom the wagons could not accommodate with a ride. One of the relief party remarked that in all the mobbings and drivings of the “Mormons” he had seen nothing like it. Cyrus H. Wheelock could scarcely refrain from shedding tears, and he declared that he would willingly give his own life if that would save the lives of the emigrants.

After a time, a start was effected and the march was recommenced along the valley of the Sweetwater, toward the setting sun.

From Samuel Openshaw:

Having to leave all the flour that it was thought we could do without [to supply the 20 men staying behind with the freight etc.] until we should meet a fresh supply from the valley, we now realized that such low rations and our bodily strength having been so much reduced by our former privations, and being such cold and inclement weather, a great many died. However, we made another start, some with bundles on their backs, a number of others would join together and put them on a handcart. Some would be crying, others singing, and thus went trudging along as best we could.

According to family tradition Mary’s mother, Harriet Taylor, died and was buried in Martin’s Cove on November 10th with just brush and snow as a covering because the ground was frozen too hard to dig a decent grave. Now it was Mary was alone with Cousin Eliza having lost her first her father, than her husband and now her mother.