It may be that politics is the only activity in the world that more clearly
illustrates pridefulness, the limitations of human perception and understanding,
and the frailty of human judgment more clearly than these incessant, repetitive,
and inane Mormon vs. anti-Mormon debates. No armchair analyst can know all the
variables - let alone comprehend them - that compel people to action, whether
that action is deemed heroic, imprudent, or downright foolish, 170 years after
the fact. Maybe it is best to just let people conclude whatever they will and
let it all go. Ecclesiastes 5:2 is worth pondering, I think.
HI All,Thanks for your thoughts and commentsSome
comments below state...¨Perhaps the lesson we need to draw is
that we should engage our God-given mental faculties rather than rely on blind
faith in the arm of flesh.¨¨For me, part of the lesson
here is that our faith ought to be accompanied with intelligent and informed
evaluation before we undertake any endeavor that involves such huge risks and
dangers¨ It´s true, Levi Savage using his intelligence,
warned against heading out so late. So what is it within him that makes him in
that same meeting say... "What I have said I know to be true;
(encouraging the saints not to go) but seeing you are to go forward, I will go
with you, will help all I can, will work with you, will rest with you, and if
necessary, will die with you. May God in his mercy bless and preserve us."
Do mental facultiess and faith mesh? Or do you believe once one is
¨excersing faith¨ ¨informed evaluation¨ is no longer being
To "Impartial7 " I don't know where you get your facts, but they
are wrong. Statistics show that overall only 3.9% of Mormon pioneers died while
crossing the US. The Willie-Martin company had a 16% mortality rate. The irony
of the situation was that the Mormons were actually safer crossing the US than
they were remaining in the east.
Kouger,Even a superficial examination of that anecdote reveals that it was
likely manufactured years later and contains serious historical discrepancies.
There is a BYU Studies article on it. The bottom line is that poor
leadership (Franklin D. Richards) prodded those faithful pioneers into disaster.
Levi Savage warned them but was rebuffed and his loyalty to church leaders was
called into question. If one does not know the story of Levi Savage, one does
not understand the causes of the disasters at Martin's Cove and other
While the story of these two handcart companies is heroic in every sense of that
word, both for the struggling companies and those who set out to rescue them,
and certainly deserves to be remembered on that basis alone, the usual lessons
drawn from it ignore a possibly more important one. When trying to decide
whether or not to undertake the journey so late in the year, the group was
addressed by Levi Savage as well as Franklin D. Richards. Savage, who knew the
trail well, begged them not to go. Richards promised divine protection if they
went. They chose to go because Richards was an Apostle and they blindly put
their faith in him. Obviously he was wrong, and they paid the price. Brigham
Young recognized this and sent out the rescuers post haste. His enduring anger
with Richards, and virtual refusal to speak to him for the rest of his life is
never mentioned. Perhaps the lesson we need to draw is that we should engage
our God-given mental faculties rather than rely on blind faith in the arm of
Some look outside and see storm clouds and rain and declare to themselves
"This will be a bad day". Others see the rain, storm clouds, smell the
fresh air, and glory in the same day. It's not a mystery that there are
pessimists, doubters, those that are negative; and there are others that are
optimistic, believers in the goodness of humanity, and are positive. Who would you rather hang around with?
Prior to the heroic rescue of the stranded saints, history records that on
September 13th 1856 according to John Chislett a survivor of the Willey company
“Franklin D. Richards promised the Willie company saints that though it
might storm on our right and on our left the lord would keep open our way before
us and we should get to Zion in safety”For me, part of the
lesson here is that our faith ought to be accompanied with intelligent and
informed evaluation before we undertake any endeavor that involves such huge
risks and dangers as the trek undertaken by the Willey and Martin handcart
companies. The dangers and risks were well known to Brother Richards and other
church leaders before these companies departed from Florence Nebraska.
@Rocket Science:You are being unreasonably harsh in this instance
with Impartial7 with whom I often disagree. While Impartial7 may have his
issues with our Mormon faith, he does correctly point out that there are other
lessons to be learned from the Willey and Martin handcart companies disaster.
Another important lesson is described by Howard Christy a retired
senior editor of scholarly publications at BYU who wrote: "an absence of
prudence sufficient to allow for alternatives in case of unforeseen misfortune
or breakdown imprudence that was heightened by an apparent belief that god would
directly intervene if necessary to assure success and looming above all was a
seeming unawareness of or unconcern for the serious limitations for safe travel
imposed by the time and the seasons the combination not any single aspect
resulted in a disaster that only great individual courage and faith on the part
of the emigrants and extreme and heroic measures in the nick of time on the part
of the rescuers saved those involved from total destruction"
Impartial7 - DRAPER, UT says: "If that's how God treats his children,
that's no god most rational would chose to follow."God
allows all men free agency to make their own decisions in life. What God cannot
and will not do is to allow us to escape the consequences of those actions.
Sadly the cruel actions of others can hurt us.
The Mormon pioneers set forth out to settle a mountain desert land far away from
civilization; they trusted in God and did the best they could with what they
had. Incredible hardships; In those days we talk of wooden ships and iron men.
Today, we have iron ships and...you get the point.
One comment that has not been made. Even after the rescuers arrived, the
handcart companies still had to participate in their own rescue. They
couldn’t just sit down and be done with it after the rescuers arrived.
Rocky Ridge happened AFTER the first rescuers reached them.Almost all the
handcart companies that set out arrived in the Salt Lake Valley safely- I think
there were 7 others. It was just the Willie and Martin companies that we hear
about- and only because of the early snow storm that hit them. The
lessons I take from their experience- you have to participate in your own rescue
and even when things are hard, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the
other.Also, be ready so that if you are called to be a rescuer today, you
are able to say, “I am ready now.” as Ephraim Hanks did.
The lesson I take from the Willie and Martin handcart companies: Next time, fly.
OK Impartial we all get it, your disdain for anything positive from the pioneer
experience doesn't fit your desire to deride the LDS, but at least read and
understand the article before being the most frequent and most critical one to
comment. Your desire to criticize the present and past LDS Prophets shows
frequently in your many posts.The article states: "On Oct. 4,
Elder Franklin D. Richards arrived in the Salt Lake Valley andinformed
Brigham Young that there were still more than 1,000 people out onthe
trail. Brigham Young had knowledge that additional handcart saints hadarrived in the United States, but he didn't know that the emigration
leadershad sent them forward out on the trail so late in the season.
Brigham Younglater stated that if these leaders "would have thought
and considered forone moment, they would have stopped those men, women,
and children [atFlorence] until another year."Winter
provisions would have been difficult in Florence but the exposure would have
probably been less. 10 years earlier the LDS struggled with life through the
Winter in Iowa. All showed tremendous faith in their God.
@johnnytriumph; "While hindsight is perfect for us we should not allow
ourselves to second guess those Saints, their sacrifices, or their
struggles."But I thought the point was that Brigham Young was a
prophet, communicating with god and divinely inspired. I guess hindsight , is
more accurate than prophesy.
Here's a familiar anecdote about the Willie & Martin company:"In a Sunday School class there was sharp criticism of the ill-fated
Martin and Willie Handcart Companies, which met with tragedy because of their
late start on the trek to the Salt Lake Valley.An elderly man arose
and said: “I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter
you know nothing about. Cold historic facts
give no proper interpretation
of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in
the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife
too. We suffered
beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but
we became acquainted with [God] in our extrem[i]ties.“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any
minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a
privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin
Handcart Company” (as quoted in David O. McKay, “Pioneer
Women,” The Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, 8)."And
those who perished still reached Zion too - the spiritual one, I'm sure.
The most important beneficiaries of all this is me/us.
Impartial7 - DRAPER, UTThe evil one was given permission to tempt
Job. He proved himself and was thereafter blessed exceedingly because of their
faith.I watched a woman recently that was dying of terminal cancer.
She was happy and had a sweet smile because she had endured life's
difficulties well and looked forward to going home. Some people dread the idea
of going when they aren't ready.
These people were anxious to get to Zion and to the blessings found there. They
had sacrificed most things before the handcart trek began, they were prepared to
sacrifice even their lives in order to be with the Saints. While hindsight is
perfect for us we should not allow ourselves to second guess those Saints, their
sacrifices, or their struggles. They made decisions based on their convictions,
they did what many of us today would not and do not do. Being true to
one's values is not a trait we hold strongly to very often these days,
we'd do well to learn from these Pioneers rather than criticize and
belittle them for their choices.
One of the messages of this piece is being grateful for rescue.Now
if I might I'd like to point out a rescue for which Utahns have been
ungrateful. With the 2008 economic collapse there developed a need nationwide
for economic stimulus. This Obama supplied. Utah was one of the best prepared
states to receive this stimulus cash (we were shovel ready, credit UDOT).
Remember all of those sudden road projects? One of the reasons Utah recovered
quickly was our shovel ready situation, and the Obama stimulus itself. BTW, my
job was saved.But how have Utahns received this benefit? One
storage facility north of town put on their board "My dog provides more
shovel ready projects than Obama." My wife happened to make a positive
remark about Obama at Relief Society. They laughed at her. Utah mostly
despises Obama, the rescuer in 2009.
@Rifleman:"Down through history there have been people who have
suffered incredible difficulties and never wavered in their faith in God. Job
comes to mind."Really, Job? You think that's a faith
promoting story? I wouldn't wish his life on my worst enemy. If that's
how God treats his children, that's no god most rational would chose to
follow.The point is, the way the church tells the history of that trek and
what really happened, are vastly different.
I am amazed by the commitment and sacrifice these people made. I have to admit
I am still a bit confused why their sacrifice was so necessary, instead of
having them wait until they could make the journey safely. I get we need to
have faith, and that there was some good gained in the lives lost ( in my mind
needlessly ), but I still struggle with it. Was the rush to get so many people
into the valley really worth those lives lost. It's just one of those
points as a pragmatic person I struggle with.
Impartial7 - DRAPER, UTfatenews - Lehi, UT got it. Down through
history there have been people who have suffered incredible difficulties and
never wavered in their faith in God. Job comes to mind.And yes,
there have always been those with shallow roots who withered and died when the
going got tough.
@Impartial7You can't say you "get the message" of the article
and then declare that "there was nothing inspired [sic] about it." The
core of the message in the article is to be inspired by the events and either
you "get it" or "don't get it". But you "got it!"
I get the message here. But the Willie and Martin handcart company saga is not
an inspirational story. It ranks as one of the poorest planned and executed
treks in history. Everything from the time of departure (3 months too late in
the season) to logistics (no supply stations en route) to the handcart
construction (green wood). Over 25% of the pioneers died. Many more left the
church as soon as they were in Salt Lake. Read other versions from outside
church publications. There was nothing inspired about it. It was a disaster.
I would only add that these handcart companies illustrate the fact that
sacrifice brings us closer to God.