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A Step Back In Time...

Have you ever wanted to step back in time and experience life in a different era?....
Last week, Joka and Buster got such an opportunity.  For 4 days, they lived the life of Pioneers trekking across the United States in the year 1856.

The original Martin and Willie Handcart Company traveled over 1300, from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, and took over 5 months. The youth from our Ward (Congregation) ages 12-18 and accompanying adults, learned of the trials, heartache and sacrifice made by the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies as they strove to be with the Saints in the Great Salt Lake Valley, to escape religious persecution, and help establish Zion.  The kids trek covered 105 miles, 30 of which they walked pulling handcarts, and lasted 4 days.

What they could take...adults were allowed 17 lbs of belongings, including bedding, clothing and any personal items.  Children were allowed 10 lbs.  To put it in perspective, Joka and Buster were each given a 5 gal storage bucket to hold everything they wanted to take.  Their list included 2 sets of clothes, 1 pair extra shoes, a hat, extra socks, and underclothes, mosquito repellent etc.  (Their tents, sleeping bags, and food were hauled in a trailer.)

Regardless of what people may think of the theologies of the Mormons or more correctly known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the trek of the Mormon pioneers is one of the EPIC journeys of faith ever recorded in history.

Our youth started their trek at Martins Cove...

...and ended on the other side of Rocky Ridge. The hike up Rocky Ridge was approximately 5 miles long.

 By the time the Willie Company reached this point, a vast majority of the men had died.  To help our youth gain a greater appreciation of what had actually happened, all the boys and men lined the trail and were not allowed to help the women and girls pull/push the handcarts up Rocky Ridge. It had quite an impact on everyone, especially the young men who could see the girls struggling and wanted to help but couldn't. When the girls finally reached the top, all the boys threw their hats in the air and cheered!

Can you imagine pulling a handcart up that rocky hill, knee deep in snow with howling winds and sub-zero temperatures in the middle of a blizzard?  That night 13 pioneers died from hunger and exposure.

Too weak to continue the pioneers stopped where they were. Three days later rescue parties arrived from Salt Lake with food and clothing.   The Martin Company was several miles behind the Willie Company and they were rescued 9 days later.

Years later in a Sunday meeting in Salt Lake, several members of the church were criticizing the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies for being so foolish to leave so late in the season...

One old man in the corner sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.
He said in substance, "I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Hand Cart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that Company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have sited was there too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that Company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that Company ever apostatized or left the church because every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.
"I have pulled my hand cart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said I can go only that far and there I must give up for I cannot pull the load through it. I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the Angels of God were there.
"Was I sorry that I chose to come by hand cart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Hand Cart Company."
The speaker was Francis Webster...

If you could go back in time, what era would you like to go back to and why?



  1. I just watched the other night on the BYU channel the story of Joseph Smith and though I know most of it is for entertainment it is amazing how man desires to know God and His plans and then suffer great challenge to fulfill the plans of God ...even in our time today....I suffer many time "though not as in this movie" but the scorn and rejection is still equal today "law" protects me from the harms of hands but the tongue still lashes out, the evil eye still cast looks of hate and separation is vivid: The Word instructs us to come out from among them be ye separate ...I'm thankful this a.m. for the separated call that the LORD has so graciously called me too.
    I have a fancy for two eras, the Pioneer days and the early 50's ..of course I was born in 56 butI think it would have been exciting to experience the change that came to the American people and the norm was of compassion and good heartedness of people.
    Enjoyed your post this morning Becky Jane

  2. I love that story. So glad your kids were able to participate in that. I would love to do that.
    I guess I would like to go back to the early 1900's. I loved the clothes and the way people talked etc. Well, at least what I saw from the movies.

  3. joybug56,
    I think Poodle skirts and the music would be fun!

    I have such a deep love and appreciation for the Prophet Joseph Smith. The sacrifices he made for establishing the church were great, yet he continued to be good, kind, and forgiving.
    Thanks for your heartfelt comment.

  4. I love learning about new things. I've never heard about this part of history. It really adds the realism to it by the youth participating like this.

  5. Our country was founded by people from many different places, most of them had a similar desire, the freedom to practice their faith without persecution. Many people still struggle with this same opportunity today. We don't try to understand or learn about each others faiths, we tend to make judgements without real understanding.

    I'm Catholic, I remember coming home from school many afternoons and finding my Mom entertaining young missionaries from LDS churches, they talked about Joseph Smith and people traveling west and all the trials and tribulations they endured. I still have the Book of Mormon they gave us!

    I think I'm a pioneer at heart, I've always been an "old soul", it was one of the hardest times to live, but there was such a sense of pride when you made your way to a new land or another part of the country!

    Becky Jane, I received my lovely gift the other day, but my internet service was down so I wasn't able to thank you sooner! The pillow is so beautiful, I have it hanging on my bedroom door. I'll post some photos on my blog in the next day or two to share with others. Thank you again for sharing so many wonderful stories of faith and inspiration! I just love your blog!

  6. Karen, I agree the early 1900's look so glamorous, and i would have so enjoyed going with my kids on the trek...

    Grace, doing this post, I did a lot of studying and learned things about the pioneers that I'd never realized before.

  7. Rachel, thank you for your thoughtful comment. The Book of Mormon is one of my most treasured possessions.

    I've always been an 'old soul' too. Love the simple and hard working ways of the 1800's!

  8. Hello Becky Jane, Its a pleasure to meet you. I have been to Utah. I found it such a surprise, a city in the middle of nowhere..I took a photo of my grandson with the colourful buffalo. Salt Lake city is lovely, you should be proud of it! (in a modest way.) I watched the short trailer and would love to see the complete movie about the 17 Miracles.. I will look to see if we have it over here in Oz?
    Back in time? It's not as romantic as portrayed in the movies. I can remember the late fourties and early fifties, it was a hard life! We lived in a fibro house with no lining so summer was sweltring and winter freezing in New South Wales. Living in Queensland now we get a moist heat which is the worst.Our house is a highset Queenslander and we do have insulation in the ceilings. Usually we just use ceiling fans and wait until the heat is unbearable before turning on the one room aircon and staying in there.. Ozzie's bear with the weather. It's winter at present and gets down to 2degrees at night, then up to 26 in the day. Thats about your 26 at night and 78 in the day. We have the heater on then and run to bed with water bottles...LOL.. My hubby is from TN and he is getting used to our weird, old time ways. Lovely to meet a sister in Christ. Hugs and kisses Crystal Mary.

  9. That is pretty cool that your kids reenacted this trip. That really helps put their ancestors tribulations into perspective.

    As you probably know from the title of my blog I am a history nerd. I would of LOVE to be able to travel back in time and meet so many people. Number one for me is Jesus and number two is FDR. I did my thesis on FDR, lol ;D

  10. Crystal Mary, Welcome to my site. The movie 17 Miracles is still in the theaters, but I imagine it will be available soon.

    I do enjoy where I live. Utah is a diverse and friendly place to be. I know what you mean about ceiling fans. The A/C is so expensive to use.

  11. Hey Becky....clicked over from following!

    What a fabulous opportunity for them to experience...something they will never forget I am sure. It will help keep the hustle and bustle of modern day in more perspective I bet!


  12. What an amazing experience! I would have loved to be able to partake in something this cool. Lucky kids! :)


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