They gathered by the hundreds, tailored in long skirts and bonnets, jeans and straw hats. The trail bosses organized the masses into companies, their past experience bringing order to potential chaos. Each company was comprised of several families. Those traveling alone were assigned to families, expected to help out, in turn to be watched over.
The journey would be long and grueling. But unlike others who had gone before, traveling in wagons pulled by oxen, this group would make their trek on foot, pushing and pulling small two-wheeled handcarts. Most of their worldly possessions were stuffed into small bundles tightly wedged inside the carts.
Amidst the hundreds were two young sisters, traveling alone without family. Julie Hill was nineteen and her younger sister, Emily, just sixteen, when they gathered with other Mormon pioneers for the trek west to the Great Salt Lake Valley. It was 1856 and the two sisters had joined up with the Willie Handcart Company for the grueling 1300 mile journey across the plains.
In present day 2013, two different sisters left their family behind to make a similar journey. My daughters Rebecca and Leslie Ann set out this morning on a three-day ??????Pioneer Trek?????? designed to replicate in spirit what the Pioneers of old experienced in reality.
Rebecca and Leslie Ann, like those traveling alone in the past, were assigned to families, expected to help out, in turn to be watched over. The girls were assigned to different companies, and even separate families, complete with ??????brothers and sisters?????? to round out the experience, and a ??????ma and pa?????? to watch over them.
They packed most of what they would need into five gallon buckets tightly wedged inside their two-wheel handcarts. And though much shorter and much less arduous than the Pioneer journey across the plains, these modern-day Pioneers will still pull and push their handcarts several miles, up and down hills and fording streams.
As they trek along, each takes the name of a pioneer to remember, in some cases an ancestor. Rebecca is remembering Eliza Rebecca Scovil, a fourth great-grandmother who crossed the plains bare footed. Leslie Ann is reflecting on Flora Clarinda Gleason, another fourth great-grandmother who crossed the plains alone.
Emily Hill, years after she and her sister miraculously arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley, gave voice to some of what she experienced on her journey across the plains, in her poem ??????As Sisters in Zion.??????
??????As sisters in Zion, we????????ll all work together??????? We????????ll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak.??????
Today, two other sisters, along with many young people of Cache Valley, in a quest to experience a bit of the past, will hopefully discover how they too can ??????work together??????? [to] comfort the weary and strengthen the weak.??????
Have a great Monday. Thanks for letting me share!
p.s. Take 15 minutes today and remember your own ancestors, each pioneers in their own way and time.