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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Last Name (Maiden)||First Name||Birthday||Plains Crossing||Relation|
|Andersen (Hansen)||Karen Marie||29Sep1798||1857-1859||^^^GM|
|Bullen (Atkinson)||Clarissa Judkins||20May1806||1846||^^^GM|
|Christensen (Jensen)||Maren Johanne||21May1827||1857||^^GM|
|Christiansen (Larsen)||Johanna Margreth||19Apr1819||1850-1869||^^^GM|
|Farnes (Barham)||Mary Ann||7Feb1837||-1863||^^GM|
|Hyde (Cowles)||Mary Ann||31Dec1820||1846-1847||^^^GM|
|Hyde (Tilton)||Polly Wyman||20Jan1786||1846-1847||^^^^GM|
|Jensen Jorgensen Johnson||Jorgen||24May1841||-1861||^^GF|
|Jorgensen (Rasmusdatter)||Dorthe Kjerstine||23Mar1801||-1861||^^^GM|
|Mortensen (Andersen)||Inger Kathrine||13Aug1852||1862?||^^GM|
|Mortensen (Nielsen)||Karen Marie||18Sep1815||1862?||^^^GM|
|Nelson (Christensen)||Karen Margrette||28Nov1803||1851-1857||^^^GM|
|Nelson (Israelson)||Mary Christina||1Jul1832||-1857||^^GM|
|Palmer (Pierce)||Patience Delila||15Feb1809||1847||^^^^GM|
|Parker (Hesken)||Ellen||23Jan1778||Died Nauvoo||^^^^GM|
|Peart (Loss)||Fylinda Angela||23Nov1826||1846-1848||^^^GM|
|Petersen (Christiansen)||Johansine Christiane Augusta||18Aug1850||1850-1869||^^GM|
|Stephens (Palmer)||Ann Eliza||28Aug1834||1847||^^^GM|
|Taylor (Hyde)||Sarah Mariah||30Apr1843||1846-1847||^^GM|
|Thompson (Welborn)||Frances Rachel||28Jan1834||-1867||^^^GM|
|Whittle (Fuller)||Mary Amelia||18Jun1817||1846-1853||^^^^GM|
|Whittle (Harris)||Mary Ann||1Apr1839||1846-1851||^^^GM|
|Woodland (Nielsen)||Nielsine Dorthea||15Feb1852||-1877||^^GM|