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Handcarts to Zion: The Story of a Unique Western Migration, 1856-1860 Paperback – April 1, 1992
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Due to a late start, the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies of 1856 ran into an early, severe Wyoming blizzard, which resulted in many casualties and fatalities. With bone chilling cold, blinding snow, relentless winds, low provisions, fatigue and disorientation, the stories from their diaries and reminisces are shocking.
To quote Ephraim Hanks, who was a scout for the first relief party, "Many of the immigrants whose extremities were frozen, lost their limbs, either whole or in part. Many such I washed with water and castile soap, until the frozen parts would fall off, after which I would sever the shreds of flesh from the remaining portions of the limbs with my scissors. Some of the emigrants lost toes, others fingers, and again others whole hands and feet, one woman lost both her legs below the knees and quite a number who survived became cripples for life." We experience the courage and moral strength of these pioneers.
The appendixes include letters from Brigham Young defending his views on the handcart method of transportation, regardless of what rumors were circulating.Read more ›
Under the direction of the Mormon church, ten caravans of these carts crossed the plains into Utah. Two of them met with disaster as a result of poor planning among the companies' leadership, but for the most part this form of migration was a successful one.
In this book, Hafen gives details about each of the ten companies, including charts showing mileage and number of immigrants. Though the book is tailored to an LDS audience, it's scope is broad, and it should be of interest to anyone wanting to study the colonization of the American West.