Ellsworth Handcart Company
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“Ellsworth Handcart Company,” Friend, Sept. 1989, 25

Ellsworth Handcart Company

At last the Ellsworth company’s journey was coming to an end. It would have ended sooner if they had not been slowed down by the ox-drawn wagons that carried their tents and other supplies. When Brigham Young heard that the handcart companies—both the Ellsworth and the McArthur companies—were between Little Mountain and Big Mountain, he organized a group of citizens, brass bands, Church leaders, and others to meet the groups and escort them into the city. When the escort met the handcart companies, the handcarts were halted and Captain Ellsworth introduced the companies to President Young and his counselors. Relatives and friends greeted the newcomers and provided a treat of fresh melons for them to eat.

As the companies and their escort moved on toward the public square in Salt Lake City, the number of welcomers increased. The Deseret News of that day stated, “The line of march was scarcely taken up, before it began to be met by men, women, and children on foot, on horses, and in wagons, thronging out to see and welcome the first hand-cart companies and the numbers rapidly increased until the living tide lined and thronged South Temple street.”

President Young spoke briefly to the group and blessed them; then the handcart pioneers pitched their tents, finally at rest in the valley of the Great Salt Lake.

Map of Wyoming and Utah

Illustrated by Shauna Mooney



Rested and repaired handcarts; held meeting about flour rations (no miles)


Heavy wind blowing; wood plentiful, but feed scarce (20 miles)


Winds and dust made for hard pulling; crossed Platte River (11 miles)


Halted for dinner by Mineral Spring Creek; weather turned cold and it rained too hard to light fires (26 miles)


Rained and snowed all day, so stayed in camp; wet conditions made cooking difficult (no miles)


Storm let up; searched all day for twenty-four missing cattle (no miles)


Sunday—camp rolled out at 7:30 A.M.; passed beautiful creek (22 miles)


Halted for dinner near old trading post by Devil’s Gate; camped near company of apostates (14 miles)


Roads rough; wind blew all day; killed cow for company to share (16 miles)


Crossed Sweetwater River and camped (18 miles)


McArthur company arrived at camp at 11 P.M., having traveled day and night to overtake us (19 miles)


Rough, hilly country; camped near spring of good water (12 miles)


Took cutoff; camped by company of ox-drawn wagons that had left Florence ten days before us (28 miles)


Sunday—moved to place with better feed for cattle (3 miles)


Halted for two hours at midday; found plenty of water by digging (26 miles)


Crossed a splendid creek; camped by Big Sandy River (23 miles)


James Birch, 28, died of diarrhea; buried him on sandy ridge (11 miles)


Met missionaries from Salt Lake City, bound for Britain and other places (22 miles)


Traveled on good roads (23 miles)


Camped at Fort Bridger; shod several oxen and killed one (9 miles)


Sunday—passed sulfur and soda springs; roads good (22 miles)


Wagons with tents arrived at midnight; thunderstorm arrived earlier; Saints cold and wet but cheerful (23 miles)


Rolled out at noon; forded Weber River; camp visited by Indians (18 miles)


Roads rough and rugged (20 miles)


Crossed East Canyon Creek eleven times; crossed Big Mountain and camped at foot of Little Mountain (20 miles)


Eight miles from Salt Lake City, met by Brigham Young, Nauvoo Brass Band, and others with provisions (13 miles)