Saturday, June 20, 2015
Mormon Handcart Pioneer: Sarah Ellen Ashton, 7
Sarah traveled with the Martin Handcart Company. Before they started the handcart portion of the trek, her youngest sister had passed on succumbing to measles. This was while they were in Boston harbor. The family would have only a few hours to say goodbye before having to board the train to continue their journey. Tragedy would strike the family again. While close to Florence, Nebraska, Sarah's mother, Sarah Ann passed away in child birth. Her young baby sister would follow a couple weeks later. Perhaps being overcome with grief, or perhaps out of mercy for his three surviving girls, Sarah's father joined the infantry at Fort Laramie. (The signing bonus would provide some food for his girls.) His last surviving girls were not free from hardship. Sarah's older sister Betsy. 11, would freeze her feet at the last crossing of the Platte and would pass away shortly after. This left Sarah, and her younger sister, Mary, 5, to journey on in the care of others. They would make it to Salt Lake where they would be taken in by several different families, often for the labor they could perform. Sarah Ellen married Thomas W. Beckstead and settled first in South Jordan, Utah and then Thatcher, Idaho.