Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Faceby Saints in Captain Ballantyne's Company: July to September 1855

The 4th Company was under Captain Richard Ballantyne.  He was 37 years old and Scottish by birth.  He had lived in America for many years and was now returning home from mission in India.

The 4th Company was a train of 46 waggons and 414 people, three horses and a mule.  To each waggon there were ten or eleven people, a yoke of oxen, and a yoke of young steers or cows.  Nearly all the people were funded by the Perpetual Emigration Fund.  They were therefore travelling comparatively light compared with the self-funding 2nd Company, as they were obliged to obey the P.E.F's baggage restrictions.  These were necessary to reduce the burden on the Fund of the expense of transporting goods across the plains.

In this company travelled:
  • George Stanger, aged 22 (already secretly married to Mary Etherington)
  • Thomas Stanger, aged 25, his wife Jane Wilson, and their toddler
  • Jane Wilson’s brother Thomas
  • Charles Hogg, aged 24, and his now very pregnant wife Ann Stanger, aged 27, and their son James, aged 2
The Company’s cattle were wild – the “wildest cattle that I had ever seen”, wrote George Mayer, Captain of a Ten.  He had to break them in by having them drag logs round the camp before they set off – and, he remembered,
“the teamsters were as wild and ignorant of oxen and how to yoke cattle as the oxen were, and I found I had my hands full.”


They had needed more dairy cows and had waited as long as they could, especially as they had so many children in the Company, but the cows never appeared.  Unfortunately, there were so many people on the move that year that supplies had become scarce and expensive.

Finally they set out on Monday 2 July.

Charles Bailey from Bradford, who was 15 at the time, remembered
“We started on our Journey … then started the fun, green cattle and green drivers made it amusing … Cattle running away, waggons upsetting – however I was very fortunate myself as I had drove cattle ever since I came to Atchison and I found it a good thing”
As the Company was almost entirely funded by the Perpetual Emigration Fund, the travellers were rationed as to baggage and as to food.  The Captains of the Tens issued the rations every Saturday and George Mayer noted that there was
“a great deal of murmuring amongst some that they had not enough to eat”
Consequently it was even more important for this Company to make good progress, especially as the days were passing and all emigrants had to get across the mountains before the bad weather.  Failure to do this had been the downfall of the famous California waggon train, the Donner-Reed party and it would lead to the terrible fate of two Mormon Handcart companies the following year.

In 1856 there were so many poor emigrants that the church tried to get them across in the cheapest way they could manage, using not waggons but carts drawn by the emigrants themselves.  There was a good deal of severe hardship and the Willie Company and the Martin Company met with disaster - as the heart-breaking accounts show.

The Faceby Saints were very fortunate to have crossed in 1855.

Captain Ballantyne was well aware of the problems.  Three weeks into the journey, he informed Brigham Young that their cattle were very light, they had some good oxen but most were very small.  Their cows were “poor and scrubby things” and no more than a dozen gave milk.  In fact all the milk in the camp was not sufficient to colour the tea, but, he said reassuringly, they had no complaints.  However, he was depending on men from the Valley coming out with provisions to meet them at Green River.

In the meantime he was rationing the people.  They were allowed per week: 7 lbs flour or meal, 1 lb bacon, ½ lb sugar, plus a small allowance of tea, rice, coffee and dried apples.  There was no milk to speak of.
“This makes it a little harder on the Company than it otherwise would be”
he wrote, and
“we intend killing some Buffalo, if the Lord will, so that we may need to draw but lightly on the valley for supplies, as we understand the grasshoppers have this season greatly diminished the crops”.
He detailed the cattle they had lost so far, because they were paid for by the Fund and belonged to the Church.  (Many cattle were lost on the trail – through death, getting lost or going lame.  One of theirs had died from eating a packet of needles.)

The Indians, he said, were “quiet and peaceably disposed” as far as he knew.

On the trail, the men who were not driving could go hunting for game (rabbits, hares, antelope, buffalo) and in addition, Captain Ballantyne organised hunting parties to supply meat for the whole camp.

However Charles Hogg remembered
“We had to be very economical about our food.  In most of the tens some of the men could hunt and kill game (of which there was an abundance crossing the plains in those days) but as I could not leave the team, (I had to drive every day) we had to go without game.  Did not have enough to eat only once for five weeks”
(It is not clear why this happened.  In the lists that I have seen, to each waggon there were at least two and frequently three men or boys.  He does not seem to have asked Ann’s family for help).

Four days after setting out, as they camped the night at Muddy Creek on the way to the Big Blue, Ann Stanger Hogg gave birth to a baby boy.  She rode in the waggon for three days, but after that she had to walk.

The 4th Company’s problems were very different from those of the 2nd Company.  They had relatively little sickness, but a great deal more difficulty with discipline and behaviour.

During the first weeks they found that some men were unwilling to carry out camp duties.  In one case it came to a court.  George Butcher, aged 47, had been showing a “very rebellious spirit to the order of this camp”.

They were four weeks on the trail, and when men were ordered out to shoot buffalo for the camp, Butcher had been asked to lend his gun or to go himself.  He refused to do either and Elder Glover, Captain of the Guard, had told him that his gun was needed for the benefit and safety of the camp and that they would use it whether he wanted them to or not.

A few days later, Elder Glover asked him why he had not fallen in for roll call with the rest.  Ballantyne recorded the ensuing court case in his diary:
"Elder Glover being calld upon to state the case before the meeting, arose and spoke as follows[:] this morning after the Brethren had fallen into rank I askd Bro Butcher why he did not fall in with the rest"
To which Butcher replied (rather cryptically), in the words of Ballantyne's diary record
"Do you want me to dirty my Breeches?"
Glover then asked him where his gun was, and Butcher replied that it was in his waggon; he appeared unwilling to fetch it.

Glover said that he would go and fetch it, to which Butcher replied sarcastically,
 "Do you want to see her?"
He was brought to court at the meeting, where he said defiantly,
 “Brethren, I want to know what more authority Brother Glover has to take my gun and use it, than I have to take his horse and ride him, if he has one, and why did not the Elders tell us this before we left England?”
Other men spoke against him, but most of the elders of the council – the Captain and the Captains of Tens – spoke instead of Butcher’s lack of experience, remarking that he was “out of his natural element”, that he should remember that the gun was his, but that he was a child of God and the gun should be at the use of the servants of God for the safety of the camp.

George Mayer commented that he was inexperienced and that he should understand that in the mountains, if he had a horse, and even if it was working in the team, if there was difficulty with the Indians his horse could be taken.

Another Captain reminded people that
“the fact is that Brother Butcher do not know the order of the church, neither do he want to know, we have had some trouble with him coming over the water”
and advised Butcher to repent and do what was right.

Captain Ballantyne then spoke at length saying,
“what security do you think this camp would have if all men acted as Brother Butcher has done? but brethren I will tell you another thing – your services, property and all that you have, are under the control of this company, for you signed a bond in Liverpool to that effect and if you break your covenants when the common Salvation of this people is at stake, I will also break partnership ...” 
The meeting resolved to cut Butcher off unless he repented, upon which he did so and then was unanimously forgiven by vote.

On the same day there was another incident when 51 year old Martin Teasdale hit 56 year old Elder William Kent and knocked out his tooth.  He was brought to court.

William Kent said, that he had walked 10 or 12 miles and was rather tired, so he got into the waggon to ride a bit.  There were two or three women in the waggon and Martin Teasdale ordered him out very roughly, but Kent was giving a drink to another brother, and replied that he would get out when he was ready.  When he was getting out, Teasdale held his fist at his face in a threatening way, so Kent said, “I don’t know but I might trash you” whereupon Teasdale followed him and hit him in the mouth.

Teasdale pleaded that he had all the responsibility of the cattle, that there were six women in the waggon at the time and that it was a bad road.  He acknowledged that he had done wrong, but, said he “Kent had such a spirit ...”

However, the witnesses agreed that Kent was calm while Teasdale was excited, that Teasdale had thrown down his whip, ready for a good fight and set off after Kent, who was walking away at the time.

So Captain Ballantyne decided that Teasdale should pay Kent $20 or put in the best tooth that could be found in Salt Lake City.  Both were to acknowledge their faults and both were unanimously forgiven by the company.

Yet another court had to be held seven weeks into the trek.

The Company had been putting up the tents for the night when 33 year old married man George Simmons said to 25 year old Elizabeth Berry
 “Sister Berry, have you no hands?”
and with that gave her a push that tumbled her over her bed.

He claimed that she was in the way, he had told her to move, she had replied that she wouldn’t and he had pushed her.  She then fell over the bed which happened to be there, and had then got up and scratched his face.

Other witnesses from the outfit said, however, that they had heard her say, “Oh, you brute”, and that he had actually been brutish to her all the way so far, calling her
“you dirty old brute, you dirty old faggot & so forth”.
Another woman said she’d seen the quarrel, that Simmons had hit Elizabeth twice and pushed her over the bed and she was doing nothing but “quietly sitting on her bed beside her waggon”.

Captain Ballantyne said,
“Brethren after hearing the case I consider it to be one of abuse and we should handle it as such that the Weak may be protected against the strong”.
He warned the people against such a “regular cat and dog spirit”.  Simmons should
“be ashamed to harbour such a spirit, it don’t become a man much less a saint – it is true Brother Simmons has done his duty in mending waggons, attending guard &c but a Gentile in similar circumstances would have done the same – there are those in this camp who are not in the church who are always on hand to do as they are told & who does it as willingly”
It ended in mutual forgiveness between the parties, and the meeting voted to forgive them both.

These episodes are so revealing of the stresses people found themselves under in their new life … and is also a reminder that not all of them were Mormons, that there were quite often non-Mormon relatives in the party.

There were some deaths in the Company, amongst the babies and the elderly.  There were also 11 accidents.

Half a dozen of the accidents involved oxen or moving waggons, or people getting on and off the moving waggons.  Presumably, as provisions were used up, there was more waggon space available for tired travellers to hitch a ride - although there was one young driver who had his leg run over by a waggon wheel.  More typical was the distressing episode witnessed by 15 year old Charles Bailey from Bradford.

He was getting a drink of water from a young woman who sitting on the waggon tongue,
“when all at once she fell in front of the wheel. The first wheel went over her chest and the hind wheel went over her jaw breaking it to pieces. I ran to pick her up and she appeared to be dead, stiff.”
He called on some of the Elders to come and lay hands on her and bless her (healing by laying on hands being a feature of Mormon practice), and she gained consciousness.  Then an old man came and set her jaw.
“It was a difficult thing to do but he set it very well and she was able to move along with the Company. It disfigured her some little but considering the circumstance it was a miracle that she was not killed on the spot.”
Another young woman, who had travelled from Switzerland, was less lucky.  The hem of her dress was torn and dragging on the ground.  She went to get into a waggon, looked in and saw there were others there and so said she could wait a while longer.  She stepped back and tripped over her torn hem and fell.  The waggon ran over her “cutting across her groin and breast”.

They made her as comfortable as they could, but she died eight days later.

A 61 year old woman was tying a bottle of water under a waggon, when something caused the oxen to move off and the wheel went over her leg.  An old lady fell and got both waggon wheels over her legs.  Crossing the river called Blacks Fork, a young woman fell and both waggon wheels went over her body and face – she was left with her mother to recover at Fort Bridger.

However, the Company’s most traumatic accidents were through negligence, and involved guns.

They were camped by the Platte River and had put up the tents.  Isabella Race, a 33 year old mother of five, was making the bed, and on it was her husband’s gun, which he had taken hunting and had left loaded, and with the percussion cap on.  The gun went off and, as young Mrs Mary Simmons described
“shot her arm, breaking the bone half way between the shoulder and elbow. She ran out in camp with her arm swinging by a piece of flesh”.
Captain Ballantyne tried to get her to the doctor at Laramie, but she died on the way.

George Mayer, Captain of that Ten, wrote:
“the Hunters were counselled over and again to take the caps off their guns before they came in the camp, therefore Brother Race was to blame”.
Another terrible accident happened at Laramie, where they were nervous about the Indians and the Captain of the Guard had required all men with guns who were not driving to walk ahead of the train.

The company had corralled the waggons, when about 100 lodges of Cheyenne passed by and most of the Cheyenne men came into camp
“came in clouds as it were, begging for sugar, flour &c and trading”
said young Charles Bailey.

Mrs Mary Simmons remembered that they
“were dressed up with paints and feathers, going to some great meeting”.
The Brethren were standing round the waggons, mostly with their guns loaded and a boy of 19 was standing beside Thomas Palmer’s waggon.  When he saw the Indians he half-cocked his gun, and then he tried to put down the hammer, but his thumb was wet and the hammer slipped and the gun went off and shot Mrs Palmer (who was aged 30 and the mother of a 9 year old girl) in the knee.

The women screamed and the Cheyenne – in Charles Bailey’s words –
“got on their horses and prepared for battle in a moment – but when they got to understand what was the matter they came in to Camp, and seemed to feel very sorry at the accident”.
Mrs Mary Simmons remarked,
“I do not know what would have become of us if one of them had been shot”.
Poor Mrs Palmer was taken to Laramie to the doctor at once by Captain Ballantyne.

Charles Bailey recorded that
“the poor woman suffered terrible –  they cut her leg off above the knee but they had to cut above again, and again, and she finally died.  This caused a sad feeling in the Company.  She was a beautiful Singer And the life of the Camp”.
The next morning the Captains’ patience was exhausted.  The spare men were to walk before and behind the camp when they moved off, in case Indians were watching – but they were to have percussion caps on their guns only when directed.  Ballantyne hoped that they would “give diligent heed” to advice to prevent further accidents – if they had listened before, those two accidents would not have happened.  Men who had powder and shot were to give it to the Captain of the Guard, and he would hand it out at his discretion  “for the benefit and safety” of the camp, to prevent further accidents.

Two weeks later they had a stampede of oxen in which 16 waggons were involved.

Mrs Mary Simmons, who only two weeks earlier had given birth to a child that lived only half an hour, wrote
“It was dreadful to hear the oxen bellowing; The women and children screaming, and the wagons rattling – our wagon did not. They turned it on one side and stood around the oxen but they did not start. I think if they had it would have killed me. No one in camp thought I would get to Salt Lake, but I did and am living yet.”
It took half a day to mend the broken waggon wheels and tongues.  This was an unwelcome delay because by then, as Captain Ballantyne said,
“the train was out of provisions and the travellers faced starvation”.
It was now early September, high up near South Pass and it was so cold at night that the water froze in the waggons.

Then just as they reached their camping ground on the Dry Sandy River, 21 men appeared from the Valley with provisions to general and great delight.

There was enough food for them to be saved, and for most of the Valley men to go on to meet the companies coming behind – as Captain Ballantyne explained to his company in a meeting around a large fire of sage brush, when he told them how much food they had used since leaving Mormon Grove, and how much they would need to get to the Valley.

Then they had a dance until a late hour, with comic songs, as everybody was so relieved, ending at last with prayer.

Finally they came within reach of the Valley.  They came over the Big Mountain and camped at the bottom and a Brass Band appeared, playing lively tunes.  The bandsmen had come to meet Elder Pitt, who had led the band for years and had been away on mission, and so there was dancing till 1130pm.

Charles Bailey said
“And they had a great time all night. And I was one that had a great time up in the mountains guarding the cattle, and I could hear the Band play and the dancers enjoying themselves all night.
Next morning we brought up the cattle, and in a short time all was on the way to the City , those on foot moving along as fast as they could to see the great City.  And in the afternoon we all found ourselves in the City. We passed right through the City to where now the University of Utah stands. There was only 2 Stores in the City at that time. Poor looking houses but we felt thankful that we had arrived”.
The band rode in first, playing, followed by two young horsemen carrying a large flag.  Small flags flew on the tops of some of the waggons, and they set up camp in Union Square, where Brigham Young himself came to see them.


The Etheringtons had reached Salt Lake City on September 7th.  The Stangers, Hoggs and Thomas Wilson arrived on September 25th.

Both companies were 86 days on the Trail.

At last, more than 7 months after their marriage, George Stanger and Mary Etherington could tell their families of their secret marriage and start their new life together.



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