Temple moments: Temple wagon train

In 1880, when the calls for colonizing often took members from their surroundings and pointed them in the direction of an unsettled frontier, 19-year-old Edgar Abraham Burk went with his family from then well-established Farmington, Utah, to a far border of Arizona. There, in Round Valley, Apache County, Ariz., they took part in founding the towns of Springerville and Eager.

In this mountainous country far from Church headquarters, Edgar married Emmaline Hadfield, and they proceeded to homestead a quarter section of land. They raised a large family of 10 children, and focused their efforts on taming the land. The eldest children were in their early 20s when the settlers decided it was time to receive their endowments and be sealed in the temple.So, on Oct. 9, 1909, after the harvest was safely tucked away, a group of families packed and headed the 300-plus miles to St. George, Utah, in a train of six or seven covered wagons pulled by horse teams. They hired a family to run their farm in their absence.

Chloe Hales, 92, was one of those children. She was 9 at the time and remembers the trip well.

"I walked on crutches. I had been burned when I was 5, and didn't walk without crutches 'til I was 14. We had lots to eat, beef, and beans - Dad always had lots of food. It hadn't snowed yet. It was a wonderful trip."

The girls slept in the wagon, and the boys slept underneath. The party traveled for 30 days to reach the St. George Temple, going around the Grand Canyon and over the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry near Page, Ariz. They arrived at the temple Nov. 9, and and the parents and children were sealed.

"I remember at the temple I was dressed in white. We left as soon as we could get things ready. It took a long time to return because the wagons could only travel so far in a day. We crossed at [Lee'sT ferry boat, and the horses swam. We saw Indians but they just stood there and looked at us. We were scared, but we didn't let them see that we were. Father talked to them."

The family arrived at their ranch on Dec. 23. "We were very glad to be home," she said.

"That trip had a great effect on my dad and the family, especially on the boys. My older brothers went on missions." She continued that later in life, "I went to the Arizona Temple about once a week. As we were traveling, I often thought about the trip by wagon train."

(Another in a series of "Temple Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)

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