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

A Pioneer Legacy for our family

by David Johnson

My Wife and I, with our 4 young children live in Forks, Washington. In February of this year we were in our hometown of Logan, Utah, for a funeral of our 97 year old Grandma. While glancing in the local paper one night, we first learned of the 150 year Mormon Trail Wagon Train events of the summer of 1997. We knew that we both had a great legacy of early pioneers in our ancestor linage and this seemed to be something that we needed to do, not only for my wife and I, but for our children. With our children not growing up in Utah, at the feet of grandparents that would tell the old stories of their parents and grandparents that crossed the plains after joining the church, to come to Utah, we felt that they need some great experience in their lives to help them understand their heritage. We had missed out on the re-enactment events of the Brooklyn that took place the summer before, and we were not going to miss out on this one. My wife had 5 ancestors, Newell Bullen and family, that sailed on that ship from New York to San Francisco in 1846. Soon after returning to Washington, we got reservation for 3 days with the wagon train from Torrington to Guernsey, WY. This would be quite short but we had to fit it in with school and a 1300 mile trip just to get to Wyoming in early June.

Some time in May, I started to get the idea that I needed to build a handcart to take with us and pull in the re-enactment. I started an all out search for some old wheels that could be used in the construction of such a cart. For weeks I searched but could find nothing that seemed as if it would work. We live here in a rain forest, it rains more that 130 inches and year, and wooden wheels with steel rims just do not last very well here even if stored in out of the weather. I had pretty much given up on finding the wheels which would enable me to construct the cart, when I was called from a town 60 miles away with information about 4 old fire pumper wagon wheels that were not in very good shape, but might work. This was only 3 days before we were to leave for Wyoming. I should have passed on this idea at this point, but felt very compelled to build this cart. We knew of a lot on great great or(great)or(great)grandparents (I will hereafter abbreviate great with an ^ for convience) that had come to Utah between 1847 and 1869, but had no knowledge of any of them being part of the 10 handcart companies. I went over and looked at the wheels, purchased them and had to frantically have an machine shop make an axle that would work for them. Most of that night I was busy scraping of the bright red paint that had covered them, trying to restore them to more of an 1850's look For the next two days and nights I build a cart, trying to keep fairly close to the instructions that I had been reading on the Internet. I had no hardwoods for construction so build them out of local Firs and Cedars from my back yard, trying to use as much wooden pegging in the joints as possible. When I loaded it on top of the Suburban to head for Wyoming, the preservative was still very wet and It was raining hard so I was not sure that it would get a very good chance to dry, even with the constant 60 mph winds.

We connected with the end of the Oregon train near Portland, OR and followed it backwards all the way to where we met the train near the Wyoming Nebraska boarder. We had good reasons to stop at many of the Mormon train sites all through Wyoming as we went. We paid special attention to the Willy and Martin handcart sites along the way. The last time we traveled this way, we knew nothing about these sites. The trail was still snowed in between Rock Creek and Rocky Ridge so we chose to spend more time at Martin's Cove. This was time well spent. We passed through the area of Three Crossings, WY where my wife's ^^^Grandfather, John Farnes died in September, 1857 while helping set up camp there along the sweetwater river. The more we traveled along, the stronger the emotional pull became for our ancestors that had traveled along this train many many years ago. We knew of about 26 ^^ or ^^^ grandparents that had come this way.

We spent three very enjoyable days with the wagon train. The first day was on the wagons. We knew that most of our ancestors came with the wagon trains, so we had to try that. After riding for 29 miles in the back of one of those wagons it is easy to see why most of them walked. The second day was a rest day at Ft. Laramie. It was a day full of stories and history. It also was a good day to get the handcart finished. I had not planned on a cover for the cart nor had time to build one. After feeling the heat and sun on the first day, I knew that our very small children that would be riding in the cart would need some protection from both. Our neighbor had given me a tarp as we left Forks to help keep the rain off and it was the perfect size for the construction of the cover. All the dirt and paint stains even gave it a very authentic look. On the third day we finally got the chance to pull the cart with the handcart company. It was a lot as I had expected, but nothing, I am sure, as to what the companies 140 years went through, day after day. I did however have wheel problems as they did. My rain forest wheels began to dry in the Wyoming arid climate. The wood separated from the iron rim by 1/4 inch and one even snapped. A little bit of heavy wrapping and we went on. Our children's feet may tell another story, but the pain will go away and the good memories will hopefully continue.

The wagon trip was one that we will never forget, but the story starts to unfold as we return home and dig further into our genealogy. Over the next weeks after returning home, we soon cane to realize that out legacy was much more extensive and interesting that we had ever imagined. We came to find out that we had 23 ^^Grandparents, 33 ^^^Grandparents and 10 ^^^^Grandparents that crossed the plains before the railroad arrived in Utah. 13 of them were in Nauvoo for endowments in the temple and then left there in 1846, heading west. We found the handcart connection, my ^^Grandfather, Jens Christiansen and family, seventh company of 1857. Our family has been deeply touched by this experience. We have so many more questions now that need to be answered. Our Ancestors have left us a legacy of faith, trials, perseverance and sacrifice that will boost the spirits of our family long into the future.

I have included a list of these pioneers and would appreciate any help that I can get to put more information into the heritage. You may contact us through e-mail at nwsquawk@olypen.com.

Last Name (Maiden) First Name Birthday Plains Crossing Relation
Andersen (Hansen) Karen Marie 29Sep1798 1857-1859 ^^^GM
Ashment Thomas 15Nov1827 1865-1869 ^^^GF
Ashment (Huggins) Ann 27Aug1827 1865-1869 ^^^GM
Bullen Herschel 10Jan1840 1846 ^^GF
Bullen Newell 18Aug1809 1846 ^^^GF
Bullen (Atkinson) Clarissa Judkins 20May1806 1846 ^^^GM
Christensen Mads 24Mar1825 1857 ^^GF
Christensen (Jensen) Maren Johanne 21May1827 1857 ^^GM
Christiansen Fredrick 20Mar1822 1850-1869 ^^^GF
Christiansen (Larsen) Johanna Margreth 19Apr1819 1850-1869 ^^^GM
Corbridge John 12May1842 1852-1853 ^^GF
Corbridge William 9Mar1808 1852-1853 ^^^GF
Corbridge (Lee) Hannah 30Dec1847 1859 ^^GM
Corbridge (Parker) Ellen 7Jul1817 1852-1853 ^^^GM
Farnes George 29Apr1838 -1863 ^^GF
Farnes John Burnside 29Dec1806 1863 ^^^GF
Farnes (Barham) Mary Ann 7Feb1837 -1863 ^^GM
Farnes (Isacke) Ann 28Sep1803 1863 ^^^GM
Griffiths Thomas 24Jun1834 -1863 ^^GF
Griffiths (Arbon) Elizabeth 16Jun1842 -1863 ^^GM
Harris McGee 8Nov1800 1846-1851 ^^^^GF
Harris (Givens) Mary 27Feb1802 1846-1851 ^^^^GM
Hughes Jonathan 19Feb1863 1863-1874 ^GF
Hughes Thomas F. 1Apr1833 1863-1874 ^^GF
Hughes (Jones) Mary 2May1838 1863-1874 ^^GM
Hyde Heman 30Jun1788 1846-1847 ^^^^GF
Hyde Rosel 20May1816 1846-1847 ^^^GF
Hyde (Cowles) Mary Ann 31Dec1820 1846-1847 ^^^GM
Hyde (Tilton) Polly Wyman 20Jan1786 1846-1847 ^^^^GM
Jensen Jorgensen Johnson Jorgen 24May1841 -1861 ^^GF
Jones William 12Feb1799 1846-1859 ^^^GF
Jones (Hughes) Elizabeth 22Mar1803 1846-1859 ^^^GM
Jorgensen Jens 24Apr1807 -1861 ^^^GF
Jorgensen (Rasmusdatter) Dorthe Kjerstine 23Mar1801 -1861 ^^^GM
Lee George 27Sep1824 1859 ^^^GF
Lee (Peaker) Sarah 14Nov1825 1859 ^^^GM
Mortensen (Andersen) Inger Kathrine 13Aug1852 1862? ^^GM
Mortensen (Nielsen) Karen Marie 18Sep1815 1862? ^^^GM
Nelson Chresten 19Nov1831 1851-1853 ^^GF
Nelson Knud Christensen 24Nov1793 1851-1857 ^^^GF
Nelson (Christensen) Karen Margrette 28Nov1803 1851-1857 ^^^GM
Nelson (Israelson) Mary Christina 1Jul1832 -1857 ^^GM
Nielson Peterson Peter 21Mar1840 1850-1869 ^^GF
Palmer Abraham 12Dec1805 1847 ^^^^GF
Palmer (Pierce) Patience Delila 15Feb1809 1847 ^^^^GM
Parker John 17Aug1775 1852-1853 ^^^^GF
Parker (Hesken) Ellen 23Jan1778 Died Nauvoo ^^^^GM
Peart Jacob 3Jun1801 1846-1848 ^^^GF
Peart (Ashment) Elizabeth 23Sep1849 1865-1869 ^^GM
Peart (Loss) Fylinda Angela 23Nov1826 1846-1848 ^^^GM
Petersen (Andersen) Ane 31Mar1809 1850-1869 ^^^GM
Petersen (Christiansen) Johansine Christiane Augusta 18Aug1850 1850-1869 ^^GM
Smith Benjamin 19Jul1824 1853 ^^GF
Smith (Hobson) Mary 14May1792 1850-1863 ^^^GM
Smith (Sidebottom) Ann 4Apr1829 1853 ^^GM
Stephens Alexander 13Apr1813 -1852 ^^^GF
Stephens (Palmer) Ann Eliza 28Aug1834 1847 ^^^GM
Taylor James Caldwell 27Feb1837 1846-1847 ^^GF
Taylor (Hyde) Sarah Mariah 30Apr1843 1846-1847 ^^GM
Taylor (Patrick) Elizabeth 9Dec1793 1846-1847 ^^^GM
Thompson Edmund Hobart 17Jul1829 -1867 ^^^GF
Thompson (Welborn) Frances Rachel 28Jan1834 -1867 ^^^GM
Whittle John Casper 28May1835 1846-1853 ^^^GF
Whittle Thomas Levi 21May1812 1846-1853 ^^^^GF
Whittle (Fuller) Mary Amelia 18Jun1817 1846-1853 ^^^^GM
Whittle (Harris) Mary Ann 1Apr1839 1846-1851 ^^^GM
Woodland (Nielsen) Nielsine Dorthea 15Feb1852 -1877 ^^GM