Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Moment With Daughters Of The Utah Pioneers~

I belong to an organization that meets monthly called the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. During our meetings we have a lesson on pioneer history. The lesson for this month was on Blacksmith's during the pioneer era. It was an interesting lesson. These men always had a job and were well respected. They made the shoes for horses and oxen, made and repaired wagon wheels, made nails, and anything that required their expertise. These Blacksmith's are kind of like those who care for our automobiles; could we do with out them, of course not. However in today's world they don't have to work in a dirty and very hot environment. I gained a deep respect for them. In the lesson we learned that there was a young woman who was taught by her father to become a blacksmith. I can't understand how a woman would want to have that job especially in that day and age. Just forging the fires would require a great deal of energy and muscle power, let alone the harsh environment.
We also have a personal pioneer history given. The history for this meeting was so interesting. The history was given on Wee Granny Murdock. She was called Wee Granny because she was very short and only weighted about 90 lbs.This early pioneer lived in England and when her husband died at an early age; she was left to raise her eight children, of which two of them died at young ages. She was 67 years old when she and her son John joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day saints. 
Her son, his wife and two children left for Utah and came across the plains with some of the early wagon trains. They too suffered greatly and lost their two sons during the travel to Utah.
Wee Granny was finally able to leave England and traveled with her daughter in law's brother, John Steele, his wife and children. They came across the ocean on the ship called the Horizon. Once here in the U.S. they had to travel as far as Iowa City, Iowa where they became part of a group that were using the Perpetual Emigration fund to obtain their handcarts. These were the poorer pioneers that couldn't afford a wagon and oxen to travel in so they pulled the handcarts with their belongings. Wee Granny became very ill and died in Nebraska before they reached the Wyoming mountains a few weeks later. Before she passed away she asked John Steele to tell her Son John that she died with her face towards Zion.
The company that they were traveling with was the ill fated Martin Handcart Company that started to Utah late in the fall and were stranded in the Wyoming mountains due to heavy snow storms. The snow was so deep the wagons could not travel; the winds were so strong their tents would not stay up. They were left opened to the elements, along with there was very little food. Many of them lost their lives and were buried in shallow and common graves. The dirt was too frozen to bury them deep in graves. Many years later people who returned to these areas could not find any evidence of their grave sites. The thoughts are that animals got to them. There is now a memorial for them in a place called Martin Cove, Wyoming.
President David O. McKay recounted the testimony of one of the survivors of the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company who said, "We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but...[we] came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities."
  Last fall my husband and I visited Martin Cove. This was a very spiritual experience for both of us. There is beyond doubt a special spirit there and we were deeply touched by this moment.
There are so many heartfelt stories of the courage and faith of the pioneers. I have many histories of my own ancestors who gave their all to the cause of Zion. Some of their stories I will share in later pages. We have such a great heritage. I too hope that I can always face towards Zion.
Here a couple of pictures that we took while visiting Martin Cove.

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