Children entered valley with 'hearts all aglow'

Over the winding trail forward we go...

The dangers are many; the wagons are slow...Often we're weary and laden with woe...And what we shall find ahead we do not know...

Over high mountains and prairies we go...To lands of new promise with hearts all aglow...(Westward Ho!," Children's Songbook, p. 217.)

Over a "winding trail" came thousands of Saints to establish "Zion" in the Salt Lake Valley. Much has been written, said and sung about these Mormon pioneers-- stalwart and full of faith.

But what of the little pioneers? What of the courage and fortitude of children and youth who walked the plains and climbed the mountains beside their parents --and sometimes without their parents? They, too, suffered fatugue, hunger, cold, heat and fear. And they, too, came with "hearts all aglow."

It was these pioneer children, said Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president, who sank the "deep, deep roots" of the gospel into their own children's children.

"They had the sense that their cause was greater than the here-and-now," she told the Church News. "They had to have the higher view, an eternal perspective and a real sense that Heavenly Father cared for them. They had the sense that they were establishing the Lord's kingdom on earth.

"Understanding the fortitude of those pioneers maybe could help today's children in developing coping skills."

Following are five historical accounts of pioneer children and youth who immigrated to the Salt Lake Valley during the years before the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. (Punctuation has been added or corrected for clarity; otherwise, the texts are as originally recorded.)

Jane Allgood Beech

Fifteen-year-old Jane Allgood (Beech) immigrated from England in 1864 with her parents. In her personal history, which was shared with the Church News by her granddaughter, Delphia Ball Jones, she related how her family joined an ox wagon train in Nebraska:

"The old people rode, but the young had to walk. Our rations on the plains were a little flour, beans and for an extra taste a few dried peaches.

"There was a companion of mine, named Emma Ward. We came from the same place. We walked, slepted, and ate together. One day we had walked unitl we were just give out. We sat down and said we couldn't go any further. We set there until the wagons were just like little specks in the distance. Our fee were so sore and blistered, we just didn't care.

"While sitting there so tired, A young man came to us on a horse. We didn't see where he came from nor after talking to us, where he went. But he talked to us very nice and encouraged us to go on. He promised us if we would try we would make it alright, and would not be harmed. We were so tired and give out, we didn't care whether we died or lived. But he was so nice, and gave us such encouragement, that is seemed to make us feel better, and have added strength. So we got up and went on and on. It was after dark when we got to the wagon train. We arrived at the camping place, just as a hastily organized band of men were starting out to search for us, as we were missed at roll call. We received a severe lecture for separating from the wagon train.

Christian Lyngga Christensen

Christian Lyngga Christensen was 5 years old when he immigrated with his parents to Utah in 1860. According to "I Walked to Zion," by Susan Arrington Madsen, Christian later related:

"On the first of September, 1860, after crossing the North Platte River, we camped for noon on Horse Shoe Creek. Father came up to our wagon, and Mother announced that the pancakes were ready. He answered that he did not care to eat and said to Mother, "I understand there are many sage hens on the creek, and as we have many sick folks in the (wagon) train, I will go and try for some fresh meat for them." He picked up his double-barreled shotgun and passed over to the East side, where he fell in with S.M. Lovendahl, a Swedish friend.

"The two had not been gone long when a shot was heard, and Mr. Lovendahl came running into camp for help. He had shot Father. It appears that Mr. Lovendahl had seen some sage hens, and they had dodged out of his sight, and while he yet had his gun cocked, he fell over some obstacle and shot Father...About one-half of the shot hit the stock of Father's gun, but enough hit Father so he died sometime during the night.

"Next morning before sunrise he was buried by the wayside in an unknown grave. His coffin was burlap sacks; and his gravestone, a buffalo skull.

"An old German gentleman took me by the hand, and each day we walked ahead of the train as far as the pilot would let us. We had a chance often to sit down and rest... I walked all the way from where Father died to Salt Lake City, where we arrived November 23, 1860.

Mary Ann Stucki Hafen

Mary Ann Stucki (Hafen) was 6 years old when she made the trek with her parents in a handcart company in 1860, according to "Handcarts in Zion, the story of a Unique Western Migration, 1856-1860," by LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen.

Later in life, the Swiss pioneer recalled that when her family loaded its handcart in Florence, Neb., "...We found that we had more than we could take. Mother was forced to leave behind her feather bed, the bolt of linen, two large trunks full of clothes, and some other valuable things which we needed so badly later. Father could take only his most necessary tools...

"There were six to our cart. Father and Mother pulled it; Rosie (two years old) and Christian (six months old) rode; John (nine) and I (six) walked. Sometimes, when it was down hill, they let me ride too.

"Father had bought a cow to take along, so we could have milk on the way. At first he tied her to the back of the cart, but she would sometimes hang back, so he thought he would make a harness and have her pull the cart while he led her. By this time mother's feet were so swollen that she could not wear shoes, but had to wrap her feet with cloth.

"Even when it rained the company did not stop traveling. A cover on the handcart shielded the two younger children. The rest of us found it more comfortable moving than standing still in the drizzle. In fording streams the men often carried the children and weaker women across on their backs. The company stopped over on Sundays for rest, and meetings were held for spiritual comfort and guidance. At night, when the handcarts were drawn up in a circle and the fires were lighted, the camp looked quite happy. Singing, music and speeches by the leaders cheered everyone."

Jesse N. Smith

Jesse N. Smith was about 12 years old when his family crossed the Mississippi from Illinois to Iowa. His journal relates: "When the forces of Illinois attacked those of our people who remained in Nauvoo, we could hear the cannon shots. Unable to afford any assistance, I deeply sympathized with the sufferers.

"In the midst of our troubles a team came for us in charge of an old man named Fisher. He belonged to O.M. Allen's company, and had promised Uncle John Smith when he left the camp that he would bring us on. The prospect which was thus held out of joining the leading camp of the Saints in their exodus was more gratifying to me than I can express.

"We at once set about preparing for the journey. I gave away my dog, quite a trial to me; we killed our pigs, and disposed of a few of our household things to the neighbors. One thing which I also counted a trial we left a large book of Grandfather Smith's writings..."

Jesse recorded that his group caught up with the leading camp of the Saints in October 1846. "I conceived an aversion for the Captain, O.M. Allen.

Although there were a number of boys and girls of suitable age to drive loose stock, yet the whole charge was given to me, and frequently on stormy days I drove all the loose stock of the camp alone. There was a man named William Corbett, who gave me his mare to ride; she was a fine animal and he would allow no one else to mount her. We reached Winter Quarters the last day of November; were welcomed by Uncle John's folks and other acquaintances."

Mary Ann Savill

"Very rough and I was very sick in Bed all day," were the words Mary Ann Savill, 17, recorded in her personal journal in 1861 while crossing the Atlantic from England. (Florence Youngberg, librarian at the Sons of the Utah Pioneers, shared with the Church News excerpts from the journal of Mary Ann Savill, her great-aunt.)

Mary Ann's journal entries, in short, concise sentences, described the activities aboard the ship that carried her to America, where she continued on to the Salt Lake Valley.

On Sunday, May 5, she wrote: "Sacrament meeting. Lots Bore their testimony in the afternoon, had a good meeting on deck and got wet through with the spray. It realy is good fun to see the people rolling about in every driction getting wet through. You know I allways Laugh at miscief."

Mary Ann was the first of her family to come to America. At later dates, the rest of her family followed. A poem she wrote during her journey expressed her homesickness, and could well describe the feelings of the many thousands of pioneers who left behind loved ones to gather with the Saints:

Do they miss me do they miss me at home

Do they miss me Twould be an ansurance most dear

to know at this minute some loved one was saying

I wish you was here to know that the group at the fireside

was thinking of me as I am

Oh yes I(t) would be joy above measure to know that they miss me at home.

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