Distance: 970 miles from Nauvoo
A significant landmark noted by most journal keepers,
Devil's Gate is a narrow cut made by the Sweetwater River
through an immense rock with sides measuring three hundred
seventy feet in height and more than a quarter mile in
length. It was here that the suffering members of the Martin
Handcart Company were brought by the rescuers before being
carried west to the Salt Lake Valley during the bitter
winter of 1856. Twenty men, under the leadership of Daniel
W. Jones, remained for the winter at Devil's Gate to guard
freight unloaded there by the independent wagon companies,
in part to make room for exhausted members of the Martin
Company. The Jones party suffered misery and starvation at
Devil's Gate, at one point being reduced to eating boiled
rawhide until friendly Indians gave them some buffalo meat.
The episode was immortalized in Wallace Stegner's story
"The Man Who Ate the Pack Saddle."
George E. Grant
is not much use for me to attempt to give a description of the situation
of these people, for this you will learn from your son Joseph A.
and Br. Garr, who are the bearers of this express; but you can imagine
between five and six hundred men, women and children, worn down
by drawing handcarts through snow and mud; fainting by the wayside;
falling, chilled by the cold; children crying, their limbs stiffened
by cold, their feet bleeding and some of them bare to snow and frost.
The sight is almost too much for the stoutest of us; but we go on
doing all we can, not doubting or despairing" (George E. Grant,
as quoted in LeRoy and Ann Hafen, Handcarts to Zion: The Flag
of a Unique Western Migration, 18561860, , 116-117).
Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson Kingsford
was six or seven thousand miles from my native land, in a wild,
rocky, mountain country, in a destitute condition, the ground covered
with snow, the waters covered with ice, and I with three fatherless
children with scarcely nothing to protect them from the merciless
I will not attempt to describe my feelings at finding myself thus
left a widow with three children, under such excruciating circumstances.
I cannot do it. But I believe the Recording Angel has inscribed
in the archives above, and that my sufferings for the Gospel's sake
will be sanctified unto me for my good" ("Leaves from the Life
of Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson Kingsford," Family and Church
History Department Library, [Dec. 1908], 78, paragraphing
"Many cruel and painful things happening, the dying and dear ones
all around us, poor souls, would sit down by the roadside and would
never move again until carried into camp on handcarts by someone.
It is a wonder any of us lived through it. My husband's health still
failing, a young woman by the name of Caroline Marchant assisted
me with the cart. . . . Not far from here [Devil's Gate] the Captain
called us together to tell us we must lay our bodies down. Were
we willing to do so for the Gospel's sake? Many poor half-starved
men shouted with what remaining strength they had, 'Aye.' But mothers
could not say that and were quiet. We went back to our tents, food
would have suited us then. My faith was in my Heavenly Father. I
never lost that faith in Him. It is as sweet today to trust and
my prayer is, may I always trust Him. He is a friend that has never
failed" (as quoted in Journal of the Trail, ed. Stwart E.
Glzier and Robert S. Clark, , 104).
15 October 1856
we traveled fifteen and a half miles. Last night Caroline Reeder,
aged seventeen years, died and was buried this morning. The people
are getting weak and failing very fast. A great many are sick. Our
teams are also failing fast, and it requires great exertion to make
any progress. Our rations were reduced last night, one quarter,
bringing the men to ten ounces and the women to nine ounces. Some
of the children were reduced to six and others to three ounces each"
(as quoted in Journal of the Trail, ed. Stewart E. Glazier
and Robert S. Clark, , 104).
courtesy of Infobases, Inc.
Painting: The Martin Handcart Company
Rescued by Volunteers by Clark Kelly Price