Family history moments: Transcendent bonds

For some time I had had a strong desire to research my son-in-law Doug's side of the family as he was a recent convert to the Church. He was excited about this and brought me a book his mother had, titled Pioneer Trails and Trials, about settlers of Madison County, Mont.

In the book was a very brief history of Julia Philpot, his great-great-great-grandmother. It said she left England about 1856 for Salt Lake City with her family. It recounted that while crossing the plains they were caught in a snowstorm, that her father, stepmother and grandparents perished and she and her sister came on to Salt Lake City. It said at one point Julia was left beside the trail, supposedly frozen, but the wagon boss discovered her and she was revived.I consulted Church history books to learn about the Saints crossing the plains that year. In my reading, I encountered the name of Levi Savage Jr., my great-great-uncle. As I read on, I found that he was opposed to the Saints crossing the plains so late in the year, but when overruled, did everything in his power to help them, being willing to die if necessary.

I had a copy of Levi's journal at home and began to scan it. He told of joining one of the handcart companies and recorded that several people had died. More often than not, he did not mention their names.

Then I noticed this: "Sister Philpot died about ten o'clock p.m. leaving two fatherless girls." Looking at the previous page, dated Oct. 17, 1856, I read, "At two o'clock this morning Brother William Philpot died and was buried before we started."

I couldn't believe my good fortune. Levi Savage Jr. had mentioned by name no more than a dozen out of the 77 who had died from the time the group left England, yet he mentioned both of the Philpots, providing for us their death dates.

Levi's journal said he was captain over the second hundred. I believe it is likely he was the "wagon boss" that picked Julia up.

Thus my research of Doug's line began with bonds that transcend generations.

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