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.

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.