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.   

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