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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: Martin's Handcart Compay: Josiah Rogerson, Church History Website

http://classic.lds.org/churchhistory/library/pioneercompanysources/1,16272,4019-1-192,00.html

 These are excerpts that were written by Josiah Rogerson for the Salt Lake Herald.  It was a series of articles that are accessed through the Church History website.  They were published in 1907, shortly after the 50 year celebration of these events.  Josiah Rogerson had been a young man on the trek, about the same age as Isaac Wardle.  He uses several journals, as well as his own memory to tell this story.

He mentions several incidents significant in my own family history.  Under the subtitle "Enlistments at Laramie" he writes:

The three companies of United States troops at Laramie were not full in their enrollment and lacked from twenty-five to thirty-five men in each company. Inducements and persuasions were offered and made to numbers of our young men to enlist that had gone to the fort in the afternoon, and not risk their lives in the farther 500 miles’ journey from there to Salt Lake that season. The comfortable adobe quarters, and the snug and warm log rooms were quite tempting for a winter’s rest, with plenty to eat and though none stopped that day, Wednesday, Oct. 8, yet on the evening of the second day following, after we had traveled and gone seventeen miles west of Laramie, William Ashton, a married man, with a wife and five children, left them all and the company this evening, with Samuel Blackham and Aaron Harrison, the two latter single men, and another young man, a cripple aged about 22 years, walked that night back to Laramie and enlisted. The cripple was justified in so doing, as we certainly should have buried him miles east of Utah, but the married man’s wife died before reaching Utah, and three of her children got in in fairly good health.

His attitude with regards to William Ashton has a negative flavor.  I wonder if it would have been different if he knew that William had already buried two of his children and his wife before reaching Fort Laramie.  He left three daughters in the care of others, two of whom made it to Utah.  Betsy passed away after having frozen her feet later in the trek.

He also mentions Isaac in an indirect way.  Talking of the reasons for moving the company to Martin's Cove he writes, "We reached the cove or ravine in time to get our tents pitched before dark, and found plenty of good, dry cedar and pine, close by on the rocks and ledges."  As we know from the story of Isaac Wardle, he took an ax to a few of those cedars and pines.  It was the downed trees that helped locate the cove, and the docents will share "his stump" if you visit the cove. 

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