Saturday, February 5, 2011

Trek across the plains/Sarah Ann & Charles Kidgell

Where do I get the 'stories', the information?  Let me explain; some information has been handed down from grandparents, one generation to the next.   Most information I have researched other's journal's that are available on the Internet.  I will put quotes around what I have found from others but, will not source it here (on the Blog) it just takes up too much space.  However, if you want to know exactly where I got something I have posted please e-mail me, I will willingly give you my source.  One way of finding the sources is through this link then follow the directions.
 After one month and four days at sea, the coast of America came into view on the morning of 4 May, 1855.  "The ship would be towed by a tug-boat up the Delaware River, finally anchoring the Juventa in Philadelphia on the evening of 5 May 1855."

I would like to mention that most of the Saints on board were participants in The Perpetual Emigrating Fund (P.E. F.) which was organized in 1849 under the direction of Brigham Young to assist the poor in emigrating however, it is my understanding from  Charles and Sarah's history they paid their own way. 

From Philadelphia Charles and Sarah traveled by train to Pittsburgh.  On the way they experienced a jarring train wreck, resulting in a "great bewailing among the women."  "Several of the trains car's had to be left behind, but the rest of the train moved ahead."  In Pittsburgh, they boarded a steamboat and the next stop was Atchinson, Kansas. 
From Atchinson they traveled a short distance to Mormon Grove.  It is here that they would experience their first 'pioneer life.'  At the first site of Mormon Grove Sarah and Charles would see the "appearance of a city of tents and wagons beautifully arranged in the open woodland...."  They will wait five weeks for their wagon and 'outfit' to take them across the plains to the Salt Lake Territory. 

I'm sure the five weeks went by quickly; for the men "completed a ditch, and a log fence and ploughed and planted about 40 acres."  "Cattle had to be broken and teamsters had to be trained."  This Charles would learn to do by having to yoke the oxen and drag logs around the camp.   
Charles and Sarah Ann were assigned to the Richard Ballantyne Company. 
Elder Ballantyne was returning from a Mormon mission in India. 
Richard Ballantyne

The Ballantyne company left Mormon Grove 2 July 1855. "Each morning the company rose to the sound of the bugle, gathered together for prayer, and sang a hymn. They would cover on average from twelve to fifteen miles a day," never traveling on Sunday. 

"During their journey the company supplemented their meals with fresh meat--usually buffalo--and fish when they could, and they also saw many wolves, bears, snakes, hares, and other desert wildlife, including on one occasion snapping turtle, which made for a tasty soup for the group." 
 However, food supplies did run low after a couple of months and some of the Saints began "to feel a little blue about it."   Nothing discouraged Charles and Sarah Ann. They pressed on without even a thought of complaint and with one thought in mind, as Charles told Sarah Ann over and over, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and these things shall be added unto you."  ( History of Charles)  
With in a few days the company was met by wagons from Salt Lake to supplement their food supplies. "That night the Saints celebrated by dancing and singing until late in the evening." 

Like the ocean voyage with no deaths (I have read several account of 'crossing the ocean' and most voyages had many, many deaths) this company of Saints  fell far below the average death rate for emigrants on the plains.  Their were a total of eleven accidents, "eight were run over by wagons and three were shot." [Accidently]
For example; a sister from Switzerland "stepped on her dress while climbing out of a wagon and fell.  The wagon wheel ran over her, 'cutting across her groin and breast'.  It took her three days to die, becoming the first of several Swiss travelers  to die
Another example; "One woman was making a bed and while dragging her husband's shotgun across the bed, accidently set it off.  It 'mangled her arm in a shocking manner.'  She ran out into the camp with her arm swinging by a piece of flesh. They tried to take her to Fort Laramie to see a surgeon, but she died on the way."

On another occasion, "while camped in Laverne.  We were surrounded by[many] Indians, they were dressed up with paints and feathers"  [Going to some great meeting]
Mr. Ballantyne "exercised all caution and instructed the men to keep their guns with them --loaded.  While the Indians were in the camp, one young Saint accidently shot off his gun, shooting a Sister in the knee.  The gunshot alarmed the Indians; they scattered and were almost instantly mounted and 'prepared for battle.'  But as soon as the Indians  learned of what happened, they returned to the camp and 'seemed very sorry for the sister.'  She was taken to Fort Laramie where her leg was cut off above the knee, but they had to cut above again and again and she finally died.  This caused a sad feeling in the company as she was a beautiful singer and the life of the camp."

After two months and twenty four days on the plains the company entered Salt Lake City and were met by a brass band.  There would be a reunion of families and friends that had entered the valley before them, President Young and Kimball visited, bidding the travelers welcome. Women and some men wept for joy. 

Charles and Sarah Ann's clothes were well worn and shoes worn off their feet.  It would be twenty four days after their arrival that Sarah Ann would give birth to her first baby, Ellen Maria in a hut that had a dirt roof and leaked quite badly.  The bed had to be raised up on stumps of trees to keep it up out of the water, and an umbrella was held over the bed to keep the mother and child dry during the birth.  (History of Charles and Sarah Ann Kidgell) 

Next post:  Life in Salt Lake City and many more children.