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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Report: Handcarts West in "56

This was written by John Bond, a twelve year old member of the Hodgetts Wagon Company, which traveled with the Martin Company.  I am reviewing the excerpts from the Church Historical website.
http://www.lds.org/churchhistory/library/source/1,18016,4976-5317,00.html

In addition to the conditions along the trail, the best contribution of John Bond is to describe the conditions at Red Buttes, as the Hodgetts company was camped next to the Martin Company, and had considerable interaction:  


Snow Bound Camp of Death
Arriving here on the willow grassy bottoms, the saints [w]ringing their hands and stamping their feet they were so cold. it was still blowing, snowing and freezing on their arrival many in tears. It looked very sad indeed to see the Saints go on to the west in the icy wet clothing pulling and tugging at their carts in eight inches of snow with children crying on their carts as they go on their journey in an exausted condition. As soon as had arrived in camp made the supper ready and ate the same. All retired to their tents and wagons in a wet condition making their beds on a snowy ground as it was still snowing as do retire to rest.
Early morn all are called and breakfast is made ready by a smoky fire as the snow was still drizzling making tears run down the haggard cheeks of the loved ones when they were eating their scanty meal. Hodgets wagon train camped near Edwin [Edward] Martins Hand-cart train when next morning the bugle is sounded by John Wadkins to go to prayers and when all had met Edward Martin called upon Moses Cluff to offer up a prayer and when it was over Edward Martin announced that six brethern and sisters had died, and desired to have their graves dug. The captains detailed men to dig the graves while others were allotted the task of sewing the departed ones up in a sheet. When Brothers Benjamin Hogets, Porter, T.J. Franklin, Moses Cluff and John Tones [Toon] were detailed to carry the departed ones to their last resting place. Later the bugle is sounded for all to gather at the graves when the brethern came walking in their turns with the departed ones and lay them in their graves, hymn 47 was sung in full.
Come, come, ye Saints no toil nor labor fear,
But with joy wend your way
Though hard your journey may appear
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive,
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell
All is well; all is well."
Isaac very likely was dispatched to dig the grave.  He also describes the rescue:

Alas! In the after part of the day, I was playing in front of Sister Scott's wagon with her son Joseph, then seven years old and his mother was looking to the westward. All at once Sister Scott sprang to her feet in the wagon and screamed out at the top of her voice. I see them coming! I see them coming! Surely they are angels from heaven. At such being said, I looked the way she was looking, but could not see or perceive what she was looking at in the distance. When again she called out, I see them plainer! plainer! plainer! I still looked the way she was looking, but could not see what she saw, and I was so anxious to see what she was looking at. By this time, more of the Brethern and Sisters came from their tents and wagons, from over the camp anxious to observe what she saw in the distance.
All kept looking westward for the moving objects, when all commenced to see in the far distance at the curve of the hill what Sister Scott saw, and it was three men on horses driving another slowly in the deep crusted snow, and the wolves were howling in all directions. Still the saints keep waiting for the moving objects, <as> all were anxious to see the relief party coming to releive the distress all were in bringing assistance to elivate [alleviate] the loving saints in all directions. Undaunted faith as the moving objects could be seen distinctly a general cry rent the air. Hurrah! hurrah! Some of the voices choking with laughter and of tears down care worn cheeks. They were so pleased to know that they were to be saved and delivered from the fears of ignomenious death. When Sister Scott waved her shawl, "We are saved!" so loud that all in camp could hear her and still repeating, "It is! It is surely the relief party from Utah."
Joseph A. Young, Daniel W. Jones and Abraham Garr came into camp with a small dun colored mule packed with supplies when much rejoicing insued through camp with Hurrahs! Hurrahs! again and again as the broken hearted mothers ran clasping their emaciated arms around the necks of the relief party, kissing them time and time again and as do rush up in groups to welcome the brethern, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters fall on each others necks the tears falling from their eyes in profusion being so overjoyed to think that all were to soon have relief

One of the things I enjoyed was his memory of the songs sung at different meetings.  The Valley Boys had a favorite:


It's every Sunday morning
When I am by her side,
We'll jump into the wagon
And all take a ride.
Chorus
We'll wait for the wagon,
We'll wait for the wagon,
We'll wait for the wagon,
And all take a ride.

I remember singing this song as a lad.

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