William Ashton and his wife Sarah Ann Barlow ashton must have had some second thoughts as the approached the handcart trek. Sarah Ann was pregnant with their sixth child. There other children were all girls. Betsy the oldest, about eleven, the second Esther had passed away as an infant, then followed Sarah, Mary and Elizabeth.
Tragedy would strike the family again, while in Boston harbor, little Elizabeth would succumb to the measles. This only allowed the family a few hours to grieve before they had to continue their journey. Their next leg was by wagon to the train station to take them North to Albany where they would cross the Hudson River on the journey to Iowa.
This family's tragedy was not over. Shortly after the pioneers had regrouped at Florence Nebraska and were traveling close to Winter Quarters, Sarah Ann would go into labor, and deliver another baby girl. However she would pass away in child birth. William was left four girls, one of them a baby. Of course wet nurses form the company would help tend the baby, keeping her alive for two weeks. Baby Sarah Ann would be buried along the plains.
When the company reached Fort Laramie, rations were being reduced to minimal amounts of food. There would be a struggle to get over the mountains and into Salt Lake. William Ashton left the company at Fort Laramie, leaving his three daughters to the care of others. He was able to use his signing bonus to support his girls, but he left them on the plains to carry on alone.
The oldest daughter, Betsy, must have felt a great responsibility. When the company reached the last crossing of the Platte, near present day Casper Wyoming, Betsy froze her feet. She would succumb afterwards, someplace between Red Buttes and martin's Cove. Her death was not recorded. The two children Sarah, seven and Mary five were cared for by others, and they actually survived and made it to Salt Lake. Mary was my great great grandmother. She too would die in child birth some years later, giving birth to her only son, William Haston Wardle. However hers is a great posterity, as that son was the father of eleven.
For more details and a view of a picture entitled orphans depicting Mary and Sarah after Betsy's death.