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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. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Boston Funeral Records

Elizabeth Ashton passed away going through Boston with her family late June of 1856.  She was with the group that became the Martin Handcart Company.  She was on the Ship Horizon when she died, but in the harbor.  She died the day the company disembarked and headed to start their train journey.  The family had to leave just a few hours after her passing.  I assume she was buried in a pauper's grave.  I would like confirmation of this.  Does anyone know how to search funeral records for Boston?  I would very much like to find documentation of her burial.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How I am related to Vern Wardle

Since moving to Manteca, I have been asked numerous times if I am related to Vern Wardle.  Vern lived in Tracy, and was a member of the stake presidency for the Manteca Stake.  However I did not meet him until after he moved from Tracy, to Cupertino.  In Cupertino he was a member of our ward, a friend, and a neighbor.  I also found out that we were indeed related. 

We share the same great-great-great grandfather James Wardle.  James Wardle had four sons and one daughter.  The oldest was William, Isaac was the second, then came his only sister Hannah, and then two more sons, Joseph and James.  James also had a stepson, Thomas Morton.

Isaac was the first to travel to Utah with the Edward Martin Handcart company in 1856  His parents and James followed in 1860 with the Daniel Robison Handcart Company.  This was one of the last handcart companies.  William immigrated with his wife and infant child (he left a couple children buried in England) in 1862 in the Homer Duncan Company.

Isaac had settled in the South Jordan area.  His newly arriving family members also settled in the Jordan area., West and South Jordan.  Isaac likely helped in the passage of those family members who followed, as he would have had resources from his farming operation and mill he had established on the Jordan River. 

I refer to Vern sometimes as Uncle Vern, as he is a few years older than I.  I don't know how many generations he is from our common ancestor James, so I tell everyone he is my third cousin.

Martin Handcart Company and general conference

I have so far heard the Martin handcart company mentioned three times at conference.  The first mention was that of Elizabeth Jackson.  Her husband became ill.  He collapsed at the last crossing of the Platt River.  They didn't think they would get him to camp.  He was on a sand bar in the river, and Elizabeth's sister, and one of the captains were able to get him to shore.  Elizabeth and her sister took him upon their handcart and were able to get him to camp.  However he passed away during the night.

The next morning there were close to twenty people buried who had passed away.  Isaac mentions that he was called upon to dig graves for many of the deceased.  I imagine he was one of those who helped with the burial, as best they could.  Often the ground became too frozen to provided a proper burial.  In such cases snow was piled over the corpses.  Edward Martin would use his shot gun to keep the birds and wolves at bay as best he could. 

Today, the speaker talked of the rescuers.  Isaac was grateful to the resucuers.  He had collapsed at one point.  He mentions by name Ephraim Hanks and Joseph Young in his brief history.  Interesting these two were not in camp with them at the same time.  Ephraim Hanks actually arrived after Martin's Cove.  However he performed a great service in blessing the sick, often raising them from near death experiences.  Other he assisted by removing dead frostbitten flesh, thereby saving even more.  He also brought buffalo meat, which was most welcome.

It is fun to put Isaac into the stories being told during conference.  It gives it a more personal meaning.