Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Martin Handcart Pioneer: James Steele 29

James Steele, 29

The story of James Steel is one in which his children will fulfill his dreams.  He traveled with the Martin Handcart Company in 1856.  He was introduced to the church by his wife, Elizabeth Sylie.  The emigrated with their two small children, James Ephraim 3 and William George.  The also traveled with several older women, some who were family friends.  The little boys needed to be carried most of the way.  After Chimney Rock the nights began to be cold.  James slowly wore down.  He shared his rations and helped his family all he could.  This included helping them through the last crossing of the Platte River.  The extreme cold and Red Buttes and Devil’s Gate also took their toll.  He finally succumbed and was buried near Bitter Creek by the rescuers who had been with them for a couple weeks. 
The rest of the family made it to Utah, and first lived in a dugout home in American Fork. 
James Ephraim, James’ son would travel to Idaho and settle there as an adult.  In laid claim to a ranch near Eagle Rock.  He returned to this spot in August, and it looked like a desert.  He had his doubts about settling here.  “We looked out in the sagebrush and could see no trees, no houses; nothing but sagebrush was in sight.  We sat around for several days and one day while sitting on the ground with my back leaning up against the wagon tongue, I went to sleep, and during my sleep I saw this country in a most beautiful flourishing condition everywhere.  The sagebrush disappeared, and in its stead, I saw farms everywhere, and I woke up and said, ‘Now I am ready to unload.’  I had not unloaded up to that time, and I never felt from then to the present time that I ever want to go back [to Utah].   He then purchased property, and laid out a city.  He would sell his parcels to people at cost, and thus was born the city of Iona.  He would serve as bishop, and then as stake president of the Bingham Stake for many years.   

Book Review: A True Book: Abraham Lincoln

A True Book: Abraham Lincoln, by Peter Benoit, Children’s Press, Scholastic Books, New York, 2012.

This book is geared to give little known facts about President Lincoln.  Yes, he is the only president to hold a patent.  He also did not win his first try for the state legislature in Illinois.  With only 18 months of school, Lincoln read as many books as he could.  Other facts include: There were seven Lincoln-Douglas debates, there were almost 4 million slaves in 1860, 46,000 were killed or wounded at Gettysburg.  12 million peple saw Lincoln’s funeral train.  360,000 soldiers died in the Civil War.  There are less than 300 words in the Gettysburg Address. 
Lincoln first saw slavery up close when he and some friends piloted a boat down the Mississippi in 1830.  He walked back to Illinois from Louisiana.  Lincoln was a hard worker and a good story teller and was well liked.  Lincoln served in the militia in the Black Hawk War, but never saw action.  In 1842 he married Mary Todd.  He also met Stephen Douglas at this time who would become a political opponent.  Lincoln battled depression, which was made worse by the loss of his sons.  Only one would live to adulthood.  After becoming president, one of his biggest moves was the emancipation proclamation effective January 1, 1863.  This allowed the Union to recruit 180,000 African Americans to the military.  Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, which he wrote himself, at the dedication of the military graveyard in Gettysburg.  Lincoln at first thought the speech a failure.  However in a few words he outlined the struggle and the commitment.  Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater the evening of April 14.  He would die the next morning.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Martin Company Pioneer: Robert Mattison Jr., 20

Robert Mattison traveled with his parents and younger siblings.  He recounts much of the hardship of the journey, beginning with nightly guard duty and the poor carts.  Because of the dry weather, the carts could hardly carry their load and took much repairing.  Because of the scarcity of food their rations were cut down.  Robert’s father was always dutiful to performing his tasks, pulling the handcart, gathering fire wood, setting up the tent.  One night early in October, after he had done this he went to bed, never to rise again.  After the crossing of the Platte, the company made only little progress, with short drives.  The days were getting shorter and they were cold.  The cattle too were poor, many freezing and many being devoured by wolves.  Joseph A Young was the first of the relief to reach them, and that next day they were given full ration and where traveling again.  As the reached Devil’s Gate, part of the stockade was knocked down for firewood, and the other part used for shelter. 
He said, “The next evening we crossed the Sweetwater to Martin’s Ravine, where there was plenty of cedar wood.  The water was waist deep and just freezing enough to let us through the ice.  It was a bitter cold night.”  Leaving Martin’s Cove he no longer pulled a handcart.  There were about seven deaths per night.  They were buried the next morning.  He further recounts, “I was called to help bury the dead.  It was a terrible job, as they are buried just as they were dressed.
The year after arriving in the Valley he was called to help with the Johnston Army issues.  He was also later called to go and bring other pioneers to the Valley as one of the “down-and-outers.”

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Martin Company Handcart Pioneer: Jeanetta Ann McBride, 16

Jeanetta was the oldest child in her family, and as a young woman was given much of the duty of the children, especially when her mother became ill and had to be carried on the handcart.  Jeanetta and her next younger brother, Heber, also became responsible for pulling the handcart.  Heber said mother would start out every morning and walk as far as she could until she gave out.  She would then lie on the ground until Father, Jeanetta and Heber came along with the handcart and they would put her in a carry her on the cart from there.  Father also became worn down and could no longer pull the cart.  Of the younger children, two would hold onto the cart as they walked.  The youngest, four-year-old Margaret Alice would ride in the cart.  Heber noted, “Jeanetta had all the worry of taking care of us children.  She carried water from the river for cooking purposes, her shoes gave out and she walked through the snow barefoot, actually leaving bloody tracks in the snow.”  The day after the last crossing of the Platte, Jeanetta’s father would succumb to the elements.  The family continued on as best they could.  At one point the tent in which they were staying blew down at night.  The family all left the tent, with the exception of little Peter, six.  The next morning as the leaders came to the tent the wondered how many were frozen in the tent.  Jeanetta reported they had all gotten out, then realized she hadn’t accounted for Peter.  She worried he must be frozen.  However when they pulled the tent up, the discovered Peter, who had slept warm through the night.  However his hair was frozen to the tent, and they had to help get it lose.

Martin Company Handcart Pioneer: Thomas Porrit Jr., 7

Thomas’ parents joined the church when he was young.  His father traveled with the missionaries, and on time contracted pneumonia sleeping on the ground.  He passed away when Thomas was not yet two-years-old.  Thomas traveled with his mother and three older siblings.  Sometime they had fresh fish on the ship Horizon as the Captain would trade nails with the fishermen for fish.  Crossing the plains the family experienced, “carts breaking down, heat, rain, mud, fatigue, hunger, cold and death.  Thomas’s sister, Jane, 9, died on the journey while the rest of the family survived.  Thomas married another handcart survivor, Sarah Hampton.  Her stepfather did not approve of the marriage, but her mother did, and lowered Sarah’s clothes to her from an upstairs window so they could run away and be married.  Thomas and his wife settled in Utah and parented 13 children. 

Native American Two-part Arrow

This is my second blog on these interesting arrows.  The first is here.  I have learned more about them at the Indian Grinding Rock State Park.  The arrows are not only two-part, but the part with the arrow head can come in several different forms making for a more utilitarian arrow.


In the last picture you see four different point which could be placed in the base shaft.  The upper is used around water fowl.  If you miss, the bobber thing would make the arrow float so you could find it.  The next has a base so it wouldn't penetrate too far.  This arrow would be used for hunting birds and leave most of the feathers whole.  Then there is a basic hunting arrow, and then a barbed arrow.  This last larrow would be very difficult to remove.  It may have been used for fish.  However if that arrow were in an animal or person, it wasn't going to come back out without causing lots of damage.

Martin Handcart Company Pioneer: Benjamin Platt, 23

Benjamin Platt traveled with his young wife and an elderly woman.  His family was always poor and he had to work from a young age and did not have the opportunity for much formal education other than Sunday School.  He and his wife traveled with the Jesse haven group.  They had two three-week layovers.  First at Iowa City preparing their handcarts, then at Florence, Nebraska repairing the handcarts and waiting for the Martin group with whom they combined.  These delays, and the constant breaking down of the handcarts would have deadly consequences.  The added weight of 100 lbs. of flour at Florence was not good for the carts.  Benjamin also adds that the constant guarding also wore down the men.  He records that President Franklin Richards talked to the company in Florence and advised against going on.  However the pioneers were worried about the Josephites and apostates in the area and would not stay.  Benjamin would also meet old friends on the trail, returning from Utah having given up on the Church.  We would not let them sway his determination.  “And I said to them ‘Goodbye, I guess I will go on,’ and we parted—them to damnation and me to Salvation, I hope.”
He remarks that it was after the left their handcarts and took to the wagons that the feet of the pioneers began to freeze on “account of inaction or want of exercise.”
SUmmarized from "Tell My Story, Too" by: Jolene Allphin

Friday, July 3, 2015

Martin Handcart Pioneer: Thomas Caton Riley, 12

Thomas’ mother and his grandfather were some of the first to be baptized in England.  Thomas’ mother, Mary Riley was determined to move she and her son to Zion.  As she made preparations, Thomas was kidnapped by his father’s sister.  Fortunately he was returned in time to catch the Horizon.  As his mother was poor, the traveled with the handcarts.  The traveled with another family, Grace Wignall, Thomas’ mother’s friend, and her husband and six children.  They were cold, and eventually became snow bound.  Grace announced to Mary that they were to be rescued as she had a heavenly messenger in the night.  Men were to arrive when Thomas’ mother was combing Grace’s hair.  Sure enough, the first three rescuers arrived about 9 a.m. as Mary was combing Grace’s hair.  They were Joseph A. Young, Daniel W. Jones and Cecil Garr.  They informed them provisions were at Greasewood Creek.  After arriving at Martin’s Cove, Grace’s husband becamse ill.  Grace called the Elders to administer to him, and his health was immediately restored.

Martin Handcart Pioneer: Josiah Rogerson, 15

Josiah Rogerson traveled with his mother and siblings.  His father did not accept the gospel and chose not to immigrate with the family.  His oldest brother was partially crippled, and hadn’t realized he would have to walk the entire journey.  When he realized this, he returned to England.  The rest of the children, and their mother, would all make it to Zion.  Josiah’s mother, Mary Ferron Rogerson,  was resourceful.  She had sewn many articles into her petticoat so it wouldn’t count against her 17 pound allotment, as had her daughter.  They were able to use some of these items to trade for food oater on the trail.  Among these was an assortment of peppers, which warmed the family members on the inside when cooked into a stew.  Isaacs young sister, Sarah Ann, awoke one morning not able to raise her head.  Her hair had become frozen to the ground.  Josiah and his brother had to extricate her with their knives, leaving her pony tails frozen to the ground.  Josiah had a good sense of history, and wrote considerably about the handcart trials.  He also collected stories from many handcart pioneers.  These stories were published in many different newspapers, and many of them are available on the LDS history website. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

President Martin, 38: Martin Handcart Company

Edward Martin, Captain of the Martin Handcart Company was a returning missionary.  He would have been serving his church for three years before returning to his family.  He was actually a native of Great Britain.  He was also a veteran of the Mormon Battalion, and would have walked with the Battalion across the United States.  The privations with the Battalion were severe and he said, “We did it for Christ and the Gospel’s Sake.”  Captain Martin guided the last handcart company to leave Iowa City.  At Florence the company lead by Jesse haven joined the Martin Handcart Company while President Haven helped with the wagon companies.  Josiah Rogers wrote high praise of Captain Martin.  “When out company was traveling he was in the front, in the center, and in the rear, aiding, assisting, and cheering in every instance needed.”
While the company was at Martin’s Cove, captain Martin and a group of men set out for Devil’s Gate.  AN unexpected snow storm overtook them.  They lost their way.  They tried to start a fire, and finally on their last match where able to accomplish their aim.  The light from the fire alerted the handcart pioneers that people were in danger and they went to the rescue.  The group was only a half mile from Martin’s Cove.
Mormon Battalion

Mormon Missionaries, middle right