Pioneer moments: Given up for lost

On Aug. 2, 1859, Elizabeth Watson, 78, got separated from her handcart company during the trek west. The company searched for her "in all directions." They waited one day, "hoping to hear some tiding of her, but nothing could be gathered to show where she was." They soon "gave her up for lost."

After 13 days, the company found her at a trading post, and listened to her story."I lost my way, and gave up hope of seeing camp that night," she told members of the company. "I passed that night without fire or food.

"For two days I traveled without food or covering at night, and on the third day I came upon an Indian camp."

Without fear, she made an Indian understand that she was hungry and needed something to eat. He gave her some cake, beans and milk.

The Indian ferried her across the river, putting her on the right road. "I traveled on again without seeing anyone and at night quite exhausted laid down to sleep," she recalled. "The wolves paid me a visit; but walked off without doing me any harm."

That morning she arose stiff and cold, but said that walking made her warm. "I had not gone far when I saw three men and felt glad, for I hoped to hear something from them of the handcarts or help of some kind."

When she reached them they questioned her carefully. She told them she was a Mormon traveling with a handcart company and had been without food. "As soon as they learned I was Mormon one of them said he would kill everyone that came in his way, and took hold of me using me very roughly and it seemed as if he was going to put his threat into execution, but I was soon hustled out of this disagreeable scene by one of his companions, who showed me to the road.

"I almost lost all hope of ever seeing the handcarts again, when I noticed ahead of me a wagon."

In the wagon she found a "very agreeable man" who helped her into the wagon and told her she had just escaped a band of robbers. He delivered her to the trading post where she waited for her company. (Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sept. 4, 1859, pp. 9,10)

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