Friday, September 7, 2012

Chapter 10d: Martin's Cove

Martin’s Cove 

The Valley Boys not only provided service at the Sweetwater, but also at the cove this day:

Once the handcart pioneers reached the cove where they were to camp for the night, a great amount of work still needed to be done. Wood had to be gathered, fires built, meals provided, and tents pitched. The rescuers took as much of the burden of these vital needs as possible, with much of this responsibility falling upon those who had taken the weaker members of the company in wagons. Heber McBride recalled that at the cove “the men from Salt Lake would clean off the snow and pitch the tents and get wood for all the families that had lost their Father and then they would help the rest what they could.”  Concerning the reunion with his mother who had preceded him to the cove, McBride wrote, “We went into a cove in the mountain and got out of the wind and when we got there the tent was up and Mother and Mrs. [Mary Ann] Barton [were] sitting by a good fire.”  McBride further noted that the rescuers “put the tents up and got wood and took care of Mother [who was very ill] and the 3 little ones.”  (Orton 2)

Isaac, who had drawn his handcart to the ravine, had still more work to do after they arrived at camp.  He was compelled to gather firewood.  Hanks [not Hanks who still hadn’t arrived but another valley boy] forced them to go hunt for wood which they found just over a little hill.  (Rupp)  This incident is told in more detail by a docent at the cove:

Visitor: Can you share about the guy that cut down the tree?
Docent: Well that was Isaac Wardle.  Isaac Wardle was a young man; in his early 20s.  And uh, he had pulled and pushed, him and another kid about the same age, had pulled and pushed other handcart people, and did everything, and by the time he got up in here in the cove he was just spent and he sat down; and one of the valley boys came over and he said "we need you to go and cut some firewood."  And he says "no, I'm not going to.  I'm going to just sit here and die."  And the valley guy says to him, "no you're not.  You're going to get up, and  you're going to go down and you're going to go out and you're going to cut down three trees and bring them back for firewood. Here's the ax, and you go do it now."  And he says, "no, I'm not going to."  And uh, the valley boy insisted the next time, almost physically insisted.  And he got him up; and he kept coming here and he cut down three trees somewhere.  We think we have identified the stump according to President Hinckley.  And there are stumps.  And he cut down those three trees.  And later in life in his journal he said it was that act that preserved his life.  Otherwise he would have; and he thanked, in his journal, that valley boy, that insisted he get up and make that happen.  And that saved his life.  (aProductofUSA)

This story is also told in the blog of someone who participated in a modern-day trek:

Isaac Wardle, was freezing and starving in Martin's Cove in November of 1856.  He thought he was at his end.  One of the rescuers asked him to go chop down a tree for firewood before he sat down.  Isaac didn't want to and eventually had to be physically forced to go do it.  Once done, he was sent back twice to chop down more trees. The process ended up invigorating him and saved his life.  These are believed to be two of the three tree stumps that still remain.  (Courtney)  (see the picture in the introducation)

The handcarts were used to fetch firewood.  Some of the valley boys also gathered firewood.  (See Broomhead, CH)   Isaac was not the only pioneer who had to gather wood, despite the efforts of the valley boys. 

When he arrived at the camp, he had to climb the mountain to cut some cedar for firewood. The "boys" of the relief party had cut some wood for the camp, but that was all appropriated before he arrived in camp. So he went on the mountain, and the mountains there are little else than rocks, and he took his little hatchet, for axes were few in camp. Green cedar was of little use. Nothing but dry cedar was really serviceable for fuel, and the dry cedar was almost as hard as iron, while his hatchet had not been ground since he left the Missouri, if it had since he left Iowa city. So I will leave you to imagine how long he was that night before he succeeded in getting fuel for those depending on him. (Jaques, CH)

Isaac would have had the task of setting up their tent that night as well.  The wind played a nasty trick with the tents in camp that first night. 

Camp was made, tents set, supper over and the people retired for the night when a Snow Storm accompanied by a raging wind from the north came over the mountain and with a terrific whirrl arround the cove levelled every tent to the ground. Here again the Utah boys found that their services verry much needed. To rescue the people from beneath their tents and re-set the tents in the dark hours of the night was a very trying ordeal for the boys and also the people but marvilous as it may seem, not a single person was Seriously injured.  (Cluff, Church History)

However it is likely Isaac’s tent did not fall down with all the others. Langley Bailey, in his letter written to Isaac, wrote, “You and me are in much better condissions than we were at this time 60 years ago, I can remember one morning. every tent was blowed down. but ours. You did stake our tent down strong and firm My dear Brother.” (Bailey, Langley)
Another brother noted,  “We stayed in the ravine five or six days on reduced rations. One night a windstorm blew down almost every tent. Many perished of cold and hunger at this place. I am not going into detail about the occurrences at Martin's ravine.”  (Jones, Samuel, CH)
Pitching tents in the snow was quite a task, and with the Wyoming winds it was even more important to do it well to avoid catastrophe during the night.  A young sister commented about the stay in the Cove, “Then, when we camped, they had to scrape a place to camp in and there was not much to make fires with. The rations of food became scarce. There were 4 ounces daily for an adult and 2 for a child and sometimes a little piece of meat. O I’ll never forget it, never!”  (Fullmer, CH 2)  Another sister said, “The tent was frozen and the ground so hard we could not set it up. I think it was two weeks we were without tents.”  (Camm, CH 1)  Young Peter McBride described a night their tent fell down from the wind:

The wind blew the tent down. They all crawled out but me. The snow fell on it. I went to sleep and slept warm all night. In the morning I heard someone say, "How many are dead in this tent?" My sister said, "Well, my little brother must be frozen to death in that tent." So they jerked the tent loose, sent it scurrying over the snow. My hair was frozen to the tent. I picked myself up and came out quite alive, to their surprise.  (McBride, Peter, CH)

A young sister had a similar experience to Peter:

After pitching our tents we lay down on the ground to get some sleep and rest. In the night the tents all blew over. It was all ice and snow where I was lying, and when the tents blew off I didn’t wake up I was so tired. One man came and looked at me. He called some more men over saying, “I wonder if she is dead?” He patted me on the head and just then I opened my eyes. He jumped back. I tried to raise my head but found that my hair was frozen to the ground. They chopped the ice all around my hair, and I got up and went over to the fire and melted the large pieces of ice that were clinging to my hair. The men laughed to think that I could lie there all night with my hair frozen in the ice, but were very glad that I wasn’t dead. (Allen, CH)

Although the cove provided some protection from the elements, conditions were still extreme.  “On our way, we camped at a gulch called "Martin's Ravine". Here we suffered terribly with the cold. It was only with the Power of God that we survived.”  (Zundle, CH)  The cold was unbearable.  The ferocity of the wind, and efforts to combat it were recorded by the rescuers.  “The camp moved half a mile nearer the mountain to get out of the wind and to get wood hander.  Spint that day in cooking and geting wood and fixing ways to break the wind.”  (Broomhead, CH)
However, having the hill in front and the mountains behind did afford some protection from the wind, which protection likely saved lives:
     This cove or ravine, was indeed our Valley Forge or graveyard, and though some have censured Captain Martin for taking us there, yet if we had stayed at the Devil's Gate fort it would have been more fatal, on account of the full sweep the bitter cold winds had on us there, and one day or night with the thermometer 11 degrees below zero. Here we had plenty of good cedar wood and shelter on three sides. (Rogerson, CH)

The other goal, of being closer to a ready supply of fuel, was also achieved.  “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.”  (Rogerson, CH)
 However the weather remained cold.  “The night was as cold as nearly any we had at the Devil's Gate, and the snow so frozen to the ground that many were not able to clear it out of the tents, so they threw down their buffalo robes and blankets and lay down exhausted. We remained here the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, 6, 7 and 8—five nights and four days.”  (ibid)  The temperature was eleven degrees below zero during this time.  (Burton, CH 1) 
Heber McBride later wrote of the Cove, “we came up this side of Devils gate about 6 miles and camped in a little cove in the mountains where the wind could not have such a clean sweep at us….then was the time to hear children crying for something to eat[.] nearly all the children would cry themselves to sleep every night[.]”  (McBride, Heber, CH 2)
 The pioneers remembered Martin’s Ravine or Cove with dread.  “At this season and at this part of the plains it commenced getting cold, and were again placed on shorter rations of 4 ounces of flour to each person per day. We traveled to the Sweet Waters River where we camped, being so weak and exhausted that it was almost impossible to move.  Many of our people while there died of starvations while others froze to death by the wayside.”  (Housley, CH)  “After this crossing we camped for several days in a deep gulch called ‘Martin's Ravine’. It was a fearful time and place. It was so cold that some of the company came near freezing to death. The sufferings of the people were fearful, and nothing but the power of a merciful God kept them from perishing. The storms continued unabated for some days.  (Kingsford CH)  “The Company passed off the main road to what was named Martin's Ravine, to escape the terrible blizzards and storms for we had little clothing and had given up all hope; death had taken a heavy tool, the ravine was like an overcrowded tomb, no mortal pen could describe the suffering; such was the condition when word was received that help was on the way.”  (Kirkman, CH)  Patience Archer added this memory:

“we had avery nice camping place[.] here we remained for nine days as we had to wait untill more provisions came to us[.] what suplys had allready been Sent to us had to be left for the breathren that had to Stay all winter at Devels gate[,] as the cattle had nearly all gave out[,] boath in the wagon company and our company and a great deal of freight had to be left there at Devels gate untill spring[.] and we was on four oz. of flour aday nearly all the time we was in camp on the Sweet water[.]  (Archer, CH)

The stay was actually five days.  Rations were reduced, as additional relief was longer in arriving than expected due to the storms.  The rations went back to four ounces of flour for adults and two for children:

We then went into a canyon where we camped for about three weeks. In a few days after we arrived here our rations were reduced to four ounces of flour per day. This happened on account of a number of the brethern having to stay a[t] Devil’s Gate until spring to guard the effects that the company had left. Having to leave all the flour that it was thought we could do without until we should meet a fresh supply from the valley… (Openshaw, CH)

The oxen and animals continued to die, or were killed and supplied what nourishment they could, but they were very lean.  This would not have been very good for Langley’s health issues.  “Here nearly all the balance of our oxen died, and several were found each morning dead between the tents, and some with their heads close to the ashes of our campfires. Others were knocked in the head before they did die, cut up and eaten, together with many a pound of rawhide, after roasting off the hair.”  (Rogerson, CH)  “they began killing the poor oxen that had not died and distributing the hyde and bones among the people to try and keep them from starving[.]”  (McBride, Heber, CH 2)  “The next day we had nothing to eat but some bark from trees.”  (McBride, Peter, CH)

1 comment:

  1. Again, i want everyone to read this at least once a year . . . and think about what they have!