The migration west to Utah is full of all kinds of stories: some faith-promoting, some adventurous, and some disastrous. Who and what were the driving factors behind the handcart company trips of 1856-1860? Who planned them? Who led them? Who took responsibility for them? The Martin & Willie handcart companies suffered far more despair and tragic death (over 200 deaths) than the Donor party’s infamous fate (42 deaths) in 1846-1847. Regardless, these handcart journeys are still often described in modern LDS history as heroic, faithful and successful, despite the obvious failures and the propagandized “All is Well” chorus of “Come, Come Ye Saints.” In this presentation, the researcher takes a look at the handcart migratory plans and the rescue efforts led by Utah LDS church leaders, and objectively analyzes the stories from this period in Utah’s history to better understand what really happened, and why.
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