Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Margaret Clark Journals

June 26, 1997

Location: Rocky Ridge - 241 miles left, Wyoming - [forever connected to the Willie Handcart tragedy]. (Dangerous to wagons, and ought to be crossed with care) - 772 miles from Winter Quarters.

Summary: This is the Day.

Journal entry: [Editor's note: For background on the historical significance of Rocky Ridge, see Agnes Caldwell's and Mary Goble's stories.]

When I was a little girl, I listened to the Pioneer stories and wondered at their courage and perseverance and stamina. I really didn't know the meaning of all those big words then, but I knew they were really great people, and I wanted to be just like them. They gave me the courage and strength to be strong in my convictions and beliefs, and I knew that if they could be strong, so could I. I have not forgotten them or their stories of courage and faith. I will not forget them. And more important than that, I will pass on to my children and grandchildren, their stories, so that these new little ones will have strongholds to grasp when the troubles and turmoils of their lives become unbearable and they need the strength of truth.

I awoke early this morning. I heard the soft breathing of my husband and my daughter. The tent was still dark. A quiet impression filled my thoughts, "This is the Day."

I quietly put on my pants, my shoes and socks, lifted my black cloak off of the top of my sleeping bag and unzipped the tent. It is always hard to get my balance when I first stand up in the morning. My legs and feet are still stiff after a long days walk. But after a few wobbly steps, things start working correctly, and then I can move well. My cloak is quite heavy. I have used it on several cold nights to cover me to keep warm. It has been through many drenching rainstorms and has kept me warm and dry.

I was thinking just a few weeks ago, how close I have become to this cloak, and how much I love it. I went to the latrine, wrapped my cloak about me and started out of the campground road. At the main road, I took a left turn. I really didn't know where I was going, or why. All I knew was that I had the impression that today was the day I had been waiting for this whole trek.

Let me tell you about my cloak. When I was a child and heard about the Willy and Martin Handcart companies, I wished in my innocent, naive, childish heart that I personally could have done something to ease their pain and heartache. I wanted to give a blanket to a child, or wrap my coat about a freezing body. Maybe I could have hot chocolate or soup at the top of the ridge, waiting for them. I know it was naive, but this thought has never left me.

Last Fall when I knew I would participate in this trek, I began having dreams of a black cloak. It became so familiar to me that I knew exactly what it looked like. I knew the feel of the material and the softness of the lining against my face. I started looking for the material. There were not a lot of choices in fabric stores where I live, and everytime we drove to another city, I would walk through the aisles of fabric stores and feel the materials and wonder if this was the right one. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted. It was frustrating not to find what I needed.

Then one day I found a beautiful wool plaid. It was gray and white with some black, but it was only a small piece and I knew it would never make a complete cloak. I walked out of the store. But a week later I went back, and it was still there. It felt right. It was soft against my fingers. I bought it and took it home. But it was not enough for this cloak.

A month passed and we had to drive to the State Swim Meet where our daughter was swimming. While there I went into a fabric store and perused the black woolen materials. There it was. That was what I wanted. There was the beautiful wool material for my cloak. I looked at the price....$28.00 a yard, and I needed three and a half yards. I gulped. There was no way I was paying that for a cloak. Nica suggested we try the remnant table. So I thought Ok, I'll give it a try.

We looked and on the bottom of a pile of black material was the same cloth. I pulled it out. We both looked at it and smiled. When I did my quick measure I knew it would be close. And it was only $6.00 a yard. At the check-out the clerk measured it....exactly three and a half yards. I gave her my money and we left the store. I had my black cloak material with the gray lining.

Over the next few weeks I tried to get to the cloak, but life was crazy busy. Finally one evening I got out the material and started the project. The lining would only come down half way, but that was OK. At least there would be enough for the shoulders and top. As I measured and sewed, it came together easily. I added two-way pockets and long ties; without a pattern. It was an easy project. I sewed late into the night. I knew this was to be a cloak to be given away to someone who would treasure it, and love it. Perhaps, it would fill my need to bless a pioneer with warmth and comfort. I didn't know. All I knew was that I had to make this cloak and take it with me on my wagon train trek.

As I walked up the dirt road, this black cloak wrapped around my shoulders, I kept feeling the impression that this would be the day I would understand the meaning of this black, woolen cloak that I have grown to love and cherish. If I found someone who was in need, I would gladly give it away. Today I would know the answer.

The morning was still dark. The half moon and a lonely star were the only objects in the morning sky. I could see the dark leaves rustle in the wind and hear the breeze through the trees. I walked for about a mile and a half wondering where I was going. The mountains here rise sharply to the left, while to the right I could look down on that vast plateau where the pioneers of old traveled to new lands and lives, in distant places called The Valley, and Oregon and California.

The sky was getting lighter and I could see the morning light above the mountains to my left.. A small road appeared to my left, running up the side of the hill and I decided to take it. Maybe at least I could walk to the top of the mountain and watch the sun rise. I started up the hill. It turned into quite a steep little road. Just as quickly as it started, it ended and I found myself in a little meadow on the side of a mountain. I headed on up, not really finding any sort of trail, just sort of wending my way through the sharp rocks and loose gravel. I recognized this terrain as very similar to that I had been through yesterday near Rocky Ridge.

The scrub sage was stunted and short, there were a few flowers and some grasses. But the distinctive thing about this mountain was the incredibly sharp rocks. They pointed in ridges upwards to the sky and ran in rows. The broken off rocks were sharp and difficult to walk on. It penetrated through my shoes and hurt my feet. It looked just like those rocks I had seen near Rocky Ridge.

The sky got brighter the higher I walked. I looked about me at the immensity of the view. To my back was the Great Desolation of the plateau below me. It led to the well-know South Pass. To my left was the awesome, beautiful WindRiver Mountain Range, still snow- capped....from whence blew this cold morning wind. To my right was the plateau we had traveled so far. It was only a few days ago. I took a quick glance at the sky and noticed there was not one cloud to be seen. Not one. And ahead of me lay this rock covered mountain, of which I was attempting to climb.

I kept going. The rocks were sharp and the breeze was cold. I thought of the Willy Company crossing Rocky Ridge with the cold and snow and awful pain of death. I suddenly felt what they felt. It was the most awful, gripping pain of my life. It engulfed my body and brought me to the ground. I doubled up with a terrible heartache of sorrow and pain and cried in sympathy for their terrible sacrifices. I do not know of any time in my life when I have felt such sorrow. It was as if they were there with me, giving me a small taste of the gut-wrenching pain of their sufferings. I cried out, "Please, I cannot stand this. Please take it away." I just cried out in sorrow for their sorrows. It was nothing I have ever felt before, and I hope I never have to feel this again - ever. I could not stand. I could not move. All I could do was cry. They suffered terribly.

It was several moments before I finally could move and I stood and continued up the mountain. As I came to the saddle,the rising sun was just beginning to come above the horizon. The color of the sunrise was the most spectacular orange-gold color I have ever seen. It was only one color. There were no clouds or rainshowers to distort the view. It was only one color and it was beautiful. I finished my ascent to the top as the sun finished its daily course and I sat on the top rock. I felt that I could see forever. There was not a cloud....anywhere. It was the perfect sunrise. I could see South Pass, the WindRiver Mountains, the ranges to the east and the great plateau before me. It was a humbling view. And far below was the wagon train and campsite glistening in the sun.

I still had two questions I needed answered. My first question was,"Did these valiant pioneers agree to their fate? In the premortal existence, did they agree to be those valiant souls that we talk about and revere? My answer was clear, "Yes."

My second question was "Who do I give this cloak to?" My answer was just as clear. "This cloak is yours. It brought you here. It is your remembrance of today."

Their Gifts

Come here, my Son, I have a task, No one else on earth can do.
I want for you to live a life of peace and love that's true.
Your life will be a simple one. A carpenter you'll be.
You will teach of Me, of My Great Plan, and of Eternity.
This is your choice, you have the right to answer yea or nay.
But through your life and gift to man, They will live another day
But you must know, it will be hard. For in the end, you see,
You'll suffer pains, you'll suffer death. It will be hard for Thee.

The Christ looked up. He knew that He was called to be the One.
To suffer in Gethsemane. For us He would atone.
He softly said, Thy will be done. My life is but for Thee.
My path is clear. I trust Thy care. Thy plan is set for Me.

Come here, my son. I have a task no one else on earth can do.
I want for you to live a life that is honest, brave, and true.
Your life will be a simple one, a farmer you will be.
You'll teach of Me and My Great Plan, and of Eternity.

This is your choice, you have the right to answer yea or nay.
But through your life and gift to man, They will live another day.
For you must know, it will be hard. For in the end, you see,
You'll suffer pains, you'll suffer death. It will be hard for thee.

Young Joseph knelt before the Lord. He knew he was the one
To bring back light, To open up Heavens message of the Son.
He softly said, Thy will be done. My life is but for Thee.
My path is clear, I trust thy care. Thy plan is set for me.

Come here, my children, I have a task no one else on earth can do.
I want for you to live a life that's hard, and tough, but true.
Your lives will be the simple ones, my chosen Saints you'll be
You'll live of me, and my Great Plan, and of eternity.

This is your choice, you have the right to answer yea or nay.
But through your lives and gifts to men, many will live another day.
For you must know, it will be hard to suffer endless pain
Yes, it will be unbearable, but in the end you'll gain.

You will be called the pioneers, you'll travel endless miles
You'll suffer death, you'll suffer pain, you'll suffer daily trials.
The group looked up, some walked away. But most of them remained.
They came to earth, they walked the path of trail and death and pain.

They lived as one, Thy will was done. Their lives were but for Thee.
Their paths were clear: trust in Thy care. They live eternally.

Margaret Clark