“Tell Me a Tale,” New Era, July 2007, 21
The Beehives of the Iowa City First Ward were too young to participate in the youth handcart trek, but they were determined to be involved in the commemoration of the handcart pioneers. On a recommendation from one of their leaders, these young women volunteered to be storytellers at the Handcart Festival.
The girls decided to use this experience as a Personal Progress project. Each girl sewed her own bonnet as part of the authentic pioneer costume for the festival. They practiced for hours to memorize the story they had chosen—the story of Fanny Fry, who traveled with the George Rowley handcart company in 1859.
Fanny was separated from her family and endured hardships while crossing the plains. One day she fainted and was run over by her handcart. Thinking she was dead, the sisters began preparing her for burial. The Iowa Beehives love to tell how surprised those good sisters were when Fanny opened her eyes. Despite her injuries, Fanny pressed on and was later reunited with her sister.
“I love to think how brave Fanny was to have left her family and to survive,” says Summer Burch. “She was tough.”
“I admire her because she never had a bad attitude, even when things went wrong,” says Allison Engle.
On the morning of the festival, Summer and Allison, along with their fellow Beehives, Miranda Decker, Kendra Dawson, Lyssa Abel, and Jenna Abel, exhibited those qualities they admire in Fanny Fry. The day was windy, rainy, and cold. But they braved the chill with willing hearts and cheerful smiles. Every girl was at her post, dressed in full pioneer costume, ready to tell Fanny’s story to any and all who wanted to hear.