On to Salt Lake
The Saints were in the cove until Sunday, Nov. 9 when they made another start. They wagon companies had cached most of their goods, freeing the wagons for transporting frozen pioneers. The handcart pioneers had also cached much of their goods, and left most of the handcarts behind. “Nearly all of the handcarts have been left behind.” (Bleak, CH 2) Since Devil’s Gate, they only had one handcart per tent:
A council was held in which it was decided that we should leave all our clothing and cooking utensils (except what was absolutely necessary, such as a blanket to wrap ourselves in and the clothing we stood in) to be left at Devils Gate and that a number of the brethern who had come out to meet us should stay to take care of them until spring should open (when they would be sent for from the valley) and that we leave all our hand carts, except one to each tent in order to carry our cooking utensils only.
…However we made another start, some with bundles on their backs, a number of others would join together and put them on a handcart. Some would be crying, others singing, and thus went trudging along as best we could. (Openshaw, CH)
They now only used the covered carts, for cooking utensils and sleep covers. Langley would have been moved to a wagon, but Isaac indicated he was one still with a handcart. Others of the other Saints did not have handcarts, but were still walking. “I pulled for 1130 miles to Pacific Springs, Wyoming.” (Wardle, CH) Pacific Springs is just past South Pass.
A rescuer reported slow progress. “Our travel was very slow at first. Five or ten miles a day was all we could make.” (Cluff, Church History) A few days after leaving the cove, by Nov. 11, Ephraim Hanks met the handcart company. He was instrumental in saving many of the Saints. “Very few men—or members of the rescuing party, if any, surpassed Ephraim Hanks in the services and assistance that he rendered our company, day and night, until the last one of us reached Salt Lake, and from that day till this we have been crowning him with thanks and blessings.” (Rogerson, Church History)
Ephraim found them just before they stopped for the day. He brought with him buffalo meat draped over his mule, which he distributed to the pioneers. Ephraim also talked about his anointments and healings, which commenced with that first night. He and Daniel Tyler visited the tent of a man on his death bed at the request of his wife. Brother Tyler said, ‘I cannot administer to a dead man.” Brother Tyler went back to bed, leaving Ephraim Hanks to lay out the body. Instead Ephraim recruited several men to help him warm the body with heated water. He then anointed him with oil. They then laid their hands on his head and “commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to breathe and live.” This man began to breath, stood up and sang a hymn. His wife went about camp saying, “My husband was dead, but is now alive. Praised be the name of God. The man who brought the buffalo meat has healed him.” (Hanks p 50)
You can imagine the general excitement caused by this healing. Ephraim was then in demand throughout the camp to bless this person or that. “’Come to me,’ or ‘my dying child’ were some of the requests that were made of me.” (Ibid) He spent days going from tent to tent administering to the sick. “The result of this our labor of love certainly redounded to the honor and glory of a kind and merciful God. In score of instances when we administered to the sick, and rebuked the diseases in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sufferers would rally at once; they were healed almost instantly. I believe I administered to several hundred in a single day…” A young man he blessed was healed immediately, dressed himself and danced a hornpipe on the end board of a wagon. (ibid)
Isaac made no mention of having been blessed personally by Ephraim Hanks, but there is no doubt he would have been the witness to not only the suffering of the Saints, but also the miracles performed in their behalf. However not even Ephraim could heal everyone, or cure all the infirmities. Many cases he also served as surgeon:
But notwithstanding these manifestations of the Lord's goodness, [m]any of the immigrants whose extremities were frozen, lost their limbs, either whole or in part. Many such I washed with water and castile soap, until the frozen parts would fall off, after which I would sever the shreds of flesh from the remaining portions of the limbs with my scissors. Some of the emigrants lost toes, others fingers, and again others whole hands and feet;… But so far as I remember there were no fresh cases of frozen limbs after my arrival in camp. (Ibid p 48)
As the train moved toward Salt Lake City, Ephraim stayed with them and would hunt buffalo. He supplied the pioneers with a good amount of meat.
It wasn’t until Nov 14 that it was recorded “No death in camp tonight.” (Burton, CH 1) As more and more relief wagons were met, the baggage was transferred into the wagons, the handcarts were abandoned one after another:
Not many days after the departure of the companies from Devils Gate they were met by a train of wagons with supplies from Zion. Following this train came another and then another and from that time on the road was kept pretty well opened. As the trains came the number of handcarts diminished as the aged were taken into wagons and made quite comfortable. By the time we reached Ft Bridger the entire handcart people were being carried with their goods, in wagons. (Cluff, Church History)
As they approached the valley, more and more rescuers met them. Isaac may have been relieved of his duty of hunting for firewood, as often the fires would already have been started by the “valley boys” before they reached camp. “As we neared the vallies—younger men—boys in their red shirts, their trousers thrust well down into their boot tops made their appearence felling the dry timber for our fires—& even trying to make merriment to cheer up our gloomy & sorely tried people.” (Jones, Albert, CH 2) “The Brethern from Salt Lake continued meeting us and some times, we had a good cheering fire built for us when we got into camp.” (Camm, CH 2)
On Nov 17 the ox wagons were left behind so they had mule pulled wagons only, which could travel more quickly; “expect to travel 20 to 25 miles a day.” (Bleak, Ch 2) As they met more rescuers the handcarts were left behind. “As the emigrants traveled up the sweet Water and over the mountain, more relief wagons met them from the valley, and one by one the hand carts were abandoned.” (Loynd, Ch) It wasn’t until Nov. 19 that Brother Burton records that all the Saints were then in wagons. This was shortly after leaving the Sweetwater, so would have been close to South Pass and Pacific Springs. (Burton, CH 1) “In traveling up the Sweet Water we began to meet teams sent to our aid, which relieved the situation to such an extent that when we reached the head of the Sweet Water we were able, on the 19th of November, to get most if not all of the emigrants in the wagons and from this time on we made good time.” (Burton, CH 2) Thomas Steed, one of the rescuers, mentions that after having pulled back to fort Bridger, he and a group with their wagons met the handcart company at Pacific Springs. (Steed, CH)
A rescuer who met the handcart company at Fort Bridger recorded, “This was the saddest sight I have seen. The biggest part of them were given out and nearly frozen to death; some with their feet frozen, some with their hands frozen. It was a sight that would make one's heart ache just to look at them.” (Wadsworth, CH)
Eventually the pioneers were allowed to sleep in the wagons at night. However this was not always a blessing:
…the good brother that award [owned] the wagon told us that we could sleep in his wagon and he would make a hole in the snow and make his bed there[.] he thought we would be warmer in the wagon[.] we made our bed there but we only had one old quilt to lie on and in the night I woke up and called to Mother I am freezing[.] the side I had laid on was so benomed [benumbed] with cold Mother got up and helped me out of the wagon[.] there was some big fiars burning in several places in the camp and lots of the sisters sit[t]ing and Sleeping near the fiar to Keep warm So I went to the fiar and staid there the remain[d]er of the night[.] (Archer, CH)
Afterwards Patience learned that if you but some coals from the fire in a bucket, and brought them to the wagon, you could sleep comfortable enough. (ibid) Brother Allred, one of these rescuers recorded this after all the Saints were in wagons:
Nov 18th. The teams having all arrived we were organized into Companies of (10's) Tens by wagons—each ten taking up a Company of one hundred as they were organized in the Handcarts—my ten wagons hauling Capt. Mayo's company. All could ride, altho. much crowded. We then set out for the City with this half starved, half frozen and almost entirely exausted Company of about 500 saints. But from that time on they did not suffer with hunger or fatiegue, but all suffered more or less with cold. As well as I was provided I even lost my toe nails from frost (Allred, CH)
About a week before they arrived in Salt Lake, one of the rescuers wrote a letter to his family. He offered a description of the pioneers. “I am setting. not on the stile. mary. but on a sack of oats with the paper on my knee, by the side of a blazing Camp fire, surrounded by some eight hundred persons, one old lady lays dead within twenty feet of me, babies crying. Some singing some praying, &c &c…. The suffering of the camp from frozen feet and various other causes, I will not attempt to describe, suffice to any bad. bad.” (Hunter, CH)
Although they made good time there was still peril going down the mountain to Salt Lake. “Arriving at the Big Mountain on the evening of the 30th of November, where the snow had piled up on each side of the road nearly to the tops of our wagons, which had been kept open by the efforts of our dear President Brigham Young by the use of ox teams passing up and down the road.” (Burton, Church History 3) Brother Jones also mentions going through snow eight feet deep past Little Mountain. (Jones, Albert, Church History 3) Harvey Cluff remembered a snow bank. “…Near the summit a cut with shovels had to be made through a snow drift twenty feet deep.” (Cluff, Church History) During some of this pass, the pioneers who were able had to get out and walk. “We had to travel over two mountains before reaching Salt Lake City. One called the large Mountain and one the little Mountain. All that could was ordered to walk as it was hard pulling for the animals. They built fires here and there to warm by.´ (Goodaker, CH) “We had a hard time for the Canyon was full of snow and it was all we could do to get through. The authorities had sent out wagons and men from Salt Lake to put up tents, clear the snow from the ground, and to set the fires to [so] they could start them as soon as we came in sight. They did and it was a welcome sight to see them.” (Wadsworth, CH)
Shortly before entering the valley, a bushel of onions arrived to them with the statement, Eat all you want.” It had been some time since they had heard anyone say this. Burton documents the donation of onions. (Burton, Church History 4) Isaac later talked of this day. “In Parley’s Canyon they were camped at a place called, ‘The Dell.’ A group from Salt Lake City met them with more food which consisted of cold biscuits and onion. With word from Brigham Young to, ‘Eat all you want.’ What a wonderful message to a group of people who had not had all they wanted to eat for weeks.” (Rupp) The Dell, or Little Dell is about 9 miles up Emigration Canyon, and just over the top of the canyon into the Parley’s canyon area.
At the mouth of Emigration Canyon they were met by a group of Saints. “On a bright Sunday morning we were met in Emigration Canyon by hundreds of people in buggies and wagons and horseback to see us.” (Camm, CH 1) The Handcart Saints arrived on a Sunday afternoon:
We were received by the saints, some with tears in their eyes and some with joy. We were a pitiful sight to see, and for weeks this company was not allowed to eat much nor to see themselves in a mirror. President Young met us, and when he saw us he was so melted down with grief at sight of our condition he had to go home sick, but he blessed us first. (Clark, Church History 1)
Brother Allred gives a good description of the last few days of the trip, and entering the valley:
After geting well started Capt. Grant with a number of others started ahead to the City leaving Robert T. Burton in Command with me to assist him, and after hard marches & much suffering, which was however, lessened by assistance from Salt Lake City in the shape of Cooked provisions & men to Clear the snow on the mountain passes—making it possible for our much exausted teams to get along with their heavy loads, we arrived in the City in triumph. Capt. Burton leading one & I the other as we moved up the Street in two lines to the Tithing yard where we were greeted with much praise & a hearty welcome to the City of the saints where we as well as the new comers could rest from our labours and our work could follow us. (Allred, CH)
Entering the Valley, the handcart members may have felt much like Johan Ahmanson, who had preceded them with the Willie Company by a few weeks:
Many forgot the tribulations they had endured upon glimpsing the sudden vista…. From that distance the city with its light gray adobe houses looked like a large encampment, and the Salt Lake Valley, which had a breadth of about thirty miles from east to west, resembled a basin or dried up lake, with its huge mountain masses ranging upward on all sides. Although the vegetation was now dead, and the eye of the observer met only a desolate treeless valley, surrounded by bare, reddish mountains, yet the impression made by the whole scene was still very pleasing. (Johan Ahmanson as quoted in Olsen p 176)
Langley Bailey described the arrival in Salt Lake. He had ridden in a wagon since martin’s Cove:
Our emerging from Immigration [Emigration] canyon Sun, Nov. 30 will never be forgotten. I was lifted up in the wagon, more dead than alive, and saw in the distance houses. Christopher Columbus and his men were no more pleased [illegible to rejoice [illegible habitations once more. When [illegible] the city the people were coming out of meeting. Hundreds came and viewed us with much amazement. (Bailey, CH 1)
We arrived in Salt Lake City Sunday noon comming out of immergration [Immigration] canyon. I was lifted up in the wagon could see houses in the distance. It <was;> like the Isrealites of old in beholding the promised land. date Nov 30, 1856. (Bailey, CH 2)
A sister noted that they were taken to the Assembly Hall, where, “”the floor was covered with straw and there was a nice warm fire for us.” Isaac provided this description of their arrival:
We arrived there Nov. 30, 1856 having taken us Six (6) months and five (5) days to come from Liverpool England to Salt Lake City U.S.A.
President Brigham Young along with many of the other Brethren and Women came to welcome us and took us into their homes, fed and warmed us and gave us warm clean beds to rest our weary bodies. (Wardle, CH)