Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies
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Peter Howard McBride, 1856 (age 6) - From
(Martin Handcart Company. His father crossed the Platte River 25
times helping others and died that night.)
Peter Howard McBride, son of Robert and Margaret Howard McBride,
was born in Ireland May 3, 1850. He was the youngest son in a family
of five children, his sister Jenetta and two brothers Heber Robert
and Ether Enos, older than he, and a baby sister Margaret, three
years younger. His father and mother, Robert and Margaret Howard
McBride, lived on the shore of the island which is situated in the
Firth of Clyde. He tells of his grandparents, Robert McBride and
Jenett Sharp, who lived in Aukive, Ireland: "My grandfather was
a sailor. I have heard him say he had landed in every port where
a ship could stick it's hull. He had a fine home but was seldom
there. I well remember one time my grandfather anchored his ship
close to our home and launched a boat with his effects and rowed
to shore, got a wheelbarrow and piled his things on it and hurried
for the house. A wave struck us, grandfather put me on top of the
load and by the time we were up on the hill the water stood thirty
feet deep where we had just been." Items from the journal of Peter
Howard McBride follow:
Grandfather, like a lot of the Irish at that time, believed in
fairies. The country in Ireland is a paradise of flowers, grass,
wooded land, with the heather blooming everywhere. They would arise
early in the morning before the break of day, slip out into the
wonderland of flowers in order to get a glimpse of the fairies before
they scampered away. They had manv myths and great imagination.
When I was three years old our family moved to Churchtown, England,
then to Southport. When we reached Liverpool, our trunks were loaded
onto carts and we were taken to the home of our grandparents where
so many cousins and uncles and aunts had gathered to see us that
we scarcely had room to move around.
We finally got settled in Southport where my parents first heard
the Gospel, and lived there for three years. Father was baptized
into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the 1st
of August 1837 by Orson Hyde, and mother was baptized the 4th of
January 1838 by Heber C. Kimball. From that time, our home was open
to the elders where services were held, the sacrament administered
and many missionaries found a haven of rest. Mother held open house,
always had something ready to serve hungry elders and a good bed
for them to rest in.
In the year 1856 my father and mother definitely decided
to emigrate to America as they had heard of the wonderful place,
America is. After leaving their home in Southport, we visited with
my mother's people before going on our long journey. We were not
treated so very kindly by them. My grandfather said, "I never want
to see nor hear from you again. If you should write, your letters
will be burned before we read them. I hope you will all be swallowed
up in the ocean before you land on that cursed American shore. You
bring disgrace to the family name by joining such a church."
We went from my grandparents' house in Manchester by railroad
to Liverpool and waited two days for the ship which was to carry
us across the ocean. It was a new ship, had only made one trip across
the ocean, and was in command of Captain Reed. We sailed for America
in April, landed in Boston, May 3rd on my birthday. Part of the
Manchester Choir was on board and there was lots of singing. One
song in particular being, "We, we won't marry none but Mormons,"
and when the ship landed, Capt. Reed made a speech to the Saints
in which he said, "The song says, I won't marry none but Mormons,'
and I will say, if I ever bring immigrants again I'll carry none
All was hustle getting past the customs officers and getting our
belongings into the cars and started westward for Zion. We were
permitted to ride on the train to Iowa City, the terminus of the
railroad at the time. From Chicago, we had to ride in cattle and
freight cars. The night we arrived in Iowa, there was the worst
storm I ever have experienced, thunder, lightning, rain coming down
in torrents. There were wagons to take our bedding and luggage to
camp three miles away, but we had to walk. Parents lost their children
and children their parents, but we finally got settled in tents
for the night, but were all glad when morning came as the sun was
shining brightly. It was warm and the people could dry their bedding
and clothes. At this place, the company was delayed three weeks
waiting for handcarts and the people got very nervous and uneasy
at the long delay, as they realized the time was getting short for
such a long journey before cold weather set in.
At last the two-wheeled carts were ready, and we were assigned
one. It was afternoon when we started. Some grumbled at such a late
start, but Captain Henry Martin explained it was wise to just go
a short way at first to get the people used to such mode of traveling.
Later they could see the wisdom. And so, we traveled across the
Iowa plains, crossing rivers, and small streams until we reached
the Missouri river at a place they called Council Bluffs. Went on
to Florence where a ferry boat took us across the river where we
waited several days for the Daniel Tyler Company. It was such a
large company that we had to travel slowly across the Nebraska plains.
We children and the old folks would start early so we wouldn't get
too far behind at night. A great many handcarts broke down, oxen
strayed away which made traveling rather slow. Quite an undertaking
to get nearly a thousand persons who had never had any camping experience
to travel and eat, and cook over a campfire. It took much patience
from the captains to get them used to settling down at night to
get started in the morning.
So, on we went till we got to the Wyoming line, then it got cold.
Our provisions got lower. I remember some men passed us one day,
stopped to talk. They gave my baby sister, Margaret (Maggy we called
her) some little cookies. She carried them in her little pocket
and I was always with her and would tease her for a bite. She would
give me a taste once in a while and it was so good. No cake I ever
tasted since was so good. My little sister and I were cut down to
one ounce of flour a day. The exposure of cold, rain, sleet and
snow and ice, pushing and pulling handcarts all day; the scarcity
of wood and food, caused many of the strongest men to perish.
Crossing the Platte River (Casper, WY)
When we came to the upper crossing of the Platte, the river was
flowing with ice water waist deep and quite dangerous to cross.
Four of the strongest men were appointed to take care of each handcart.
Lots of women waded the river all right but the children were put
on the handcarts. A man by the name of Cyrus Wheelock, just returned
from a mission to the Eastern States, was riding a horse. He carried
a lot of the children over on it, even helped pull some of the handcarts
by a rope fastened to his saddle. One time he had three boys on,
one in front and two behind. I was the last boy on that side of
the river, thought I would try to wade across. He told me to climb
up behind the two boys and hold onto them, which I did. We crossed
the river all right, then the horse leaped up a steep bank and I
slid off just in the shallow water, held on to the horse's tail
and came out all right.
That night the wind was blowing very cold and the carts were all
sheltered behind a big cliff, but the snow drifted in the tents
being covered up. My father died that night in our tent. He had
worked all day pulling, pushing, wading through the icy river, and
he made about twenty-five trips across the river helping to get
all the people and carts across. My mother was sick all the way
and my sister Jenetta Ann had all the worry of taking care of us
children. She carried water from the river for cooking purposes;
her shoes gave out and she walked through the snow barefoot, actually
leaving bloody tracks in the snow. Father was a good singer. He
had charge of the singing in our company. The next morning funeral
services were held in our tent for him. Cyrus Wheelock was the speaker.
Father was wrapped in a sheet, carried out by two men. They laid
him on the snow. When they gathered all the dead, they just dragged
them across the snow by the feet to the hole made on the river bank
where they piled in thirteen men into one grave. They put dirt over
them as best they could, then some logs to keep the wolves from
getting the bodies.
The Rest of the Journey
We didn't travel far the next day. My mother was so sick and my
sister Jenetta Ann worn out, but we couldn't stop long for anything.
When we got to Sweetwater, we camped. A meeting was held and the
people decided we could go no farther, snow so deep and no food.
We were doomed to starvation all would stay here and die together.
They gave me a bone of an oxen that died. I cut off the skin, put
the bone in the fire to roast. When it was done, some big boys came
and ran away with it, then I took the skin, boiled it and drank
the soup and ate the skin and it was a good supper.
Later we had a terrible cold spell. The wind drifted snow into
our tent till we thought we would freeze. I shivered so much I knew
I would die. I heard freezing was an easy death. The wind blew the
tent down, they all crawled out but me. I began to feel warm and
the tent closed down around me, the snow fell on it, I went to sleep
and slept warm all night. In the morning I heard some one say, "How
many are dead in this tent?" My sister said. "Well there are five
children Robert, Ether, Maggy and myself. My little brother Peter
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 to their surprise.
That day we got word that some teams were coming to meet us from
the valley. That night three teams came and reported more on the
road and no one but a person having gone through that experience
can imagine what a happy moment it was for this belated handcart
company. Men, women, and children knelt down and thanked the Almighty
God for our delivery from certain death. It put new life into all
the people. The next day several teams arrived and there was room
for us all to ride, but men had to dear the road of snow before
the wagons could make the grade.
We were given food but were told that most of it must be saved
for the men who had to get us to the Valley. Fires were made along
the road so we could warm at intervals. And when the summit of Big
Mountain was reached, everyone could ride down the long hill.
The wagon we were in belonged to Ebenezer Richardson of Ogden
City. We finally arrived in Salt Lake City, November 30, 1856; our
teamster took us to his sister's place where we were kindly treated.
The next day we drove as far as Farmington. The snow was very deep.
We stopped at another place that night and oh, how different the
treatment. After the older folks were through with supper, there
wasn't any food left for us hungry children and we were put to bed
Next morning, we started for Ogden; we arrived about sundown and
were taken to an old gentleman's house. His wife had been dead about
two years. He told his housekeeper to fix us some food. We had plenty
to eat that night; everyone in that part of the country was very
poor, having been driven from their homes in the East and robbed
of all they had. They were just getting homes started again and
a few things around them.
Soon after stopping there my mother got a little house with a
dirt roof and a dirt floor. A fireplace in one end and when it would
rain, water and mud would run down the walls and on to our beds.
And we children would say to mother, "Mother, is this Zion?" and
she would answer, "Never mind children, the Lord will provide."
I have thought many times how mother must have felt to live in such
a place after having a comfortable home all her life, but I never
heard her complain. Some men brought us some wood but had to grub
sagebrush to keep the fire going. There were five mouths to feed
and it was a hard struggle. I've heard my baby sister cry herself
to sleep for want of food, and say, "Take me to my own home." Our
diet that winter was squash, corn meal and salt. We got through
the winter somehow and then we dug sego to help with the diet. Mother
was sick most of the winter but when spring came she got better.
Jenetta found work. Also the older boys, and conditions changed.
My brothers went to school barefoot that winter as did many other
boys in town.
- Source: Our Pioneer
- © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International
Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved.
No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any
means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents
and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS
Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.