Ellsworth Handcart Company


It should be granted unto them according to their faith (D&C 10:47).

As the Ellsworth company crossed the plains, it was closely followed by the McArthur company. The companies passed many homes and settlements that had recently been built as the prairie began to be settled.

One day when six-year-old Arthur Parker of the McArthur company sat down to rest, he was accidentally left behind, and members of the Ellsworth company, traveling close-by, delayed their travel to help search for the boy. When the boy wasn’t found, his father stayed behind to continue the search while the companies moved on.

Arthur’s mother gave her husband a bright shawl and told him that if the boy was dead to wrap his body in it. If the boy was alive, he was to use it as a signal to let her know. Arthur was found a few days later in the care of a kind couple, and his father happily waved the red shawl when he and the boy finally came within sight of the handcarts.

The companies were headed for Florence, Nebraska, which was where Winter Quarters had once been. There the pioneers would stop to repair their handcarts and supply wagons and to secure provisions for the long and difficult trail over the mountains to the Salt Lake Valley.

Map of Iowa and Nebraska(click to view larger)

Illustrated by Shauna Mooney

July

1

Walked four miles per hour; thunderstorm blew down one tent and split another, getting everything wet (15 miles)

2

Men searched for lost Parker boy of McArthur company; camped by Nishnabotna River (10 miles)

3

Some took wrong fork in road but caught up with main camp by midnight (14 miles)

4

Camped about 14 miles from Council Bluffs; everyone in good spirits (20 miles)

5

Company washed clothes and rested; Brother Parker brought son into camp—camp rejoiced (no miles)

6

Sunday—meetings attended by strangers who lived nearby; some listened, others walked off grumbling (no miles)

7

Traveled through hilly country; passed a few homes where several “old Mormons” were staying (15 miles)

8

Crossed Missouri River on steam ferryboat; camped near Florence, Nebraska, where Winter Quarters once stood (16 miles)

9

Rested in Florence (no miles)

10

Rested and repaired handcarts; one sister backed out and decided not to go on with company (no miles)

11

Again worked to get handcarts ready for journey over mountains (no miles)

12

Rested and continued to repair handcarts (no miles)

13

Sunday—meetings held at 4 P.M.; Saints wrote letters home (no miles)

14

Worked on handcarts (no miles)

15

Worked on handcarts (no miles)

16

Prepared to move (no miles)

17

Traveled to Summer Quarters and made camp (3 miles)

18

Repaired handcarts (no miles)

19

Repaired handcarts and prepared to depart (no miles)

20

Rolled out at 6 A.M. and pitched tents at 9:30 A.M. (7 miles)

21

Crossed Elkhorn River on ferryboat; stormed all night (18 miles)

22

Traveled over good road; passed five dead oxen (17 miles)

23

Very hot; water scarce (14 miles)

24

Camped near Shell Creek (9 miles)

25

Good roads except for five-mile stretch of sand, which made pulling handcarts difficult (18 miles)

26

Ferried over river at Loup Fork—took five hours; Henry Walker, 50, was struck by lightning and killed (6 miles)

27

Sunday—moved two miles to better campground; held evening meeting (2 miles)

28

Difficult traveling over rough and sandy roads (20 miles)

29

Ascended bluff; baby girl born to John and Ann Doney (15 miles)

30

Rough roads (25 miles)

31

Found plenty of buffalo chips (18 miles)