Willie-Martin testimony

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Palerider
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Willie-Martin testimony

Post by Palerider » Thu Dec 23, 2021 10:40 pm

I thought there was a recent thread here on the testimony of Francis Webster regarding the difficulties encountered by the W&M handcart companies. Remember the story of the old guy in the Sunday school class who chided the other members for berating church leadership for making the wrong decision in sending the companies out late in the season.

Specifically that Webster's testimony (about paying the price to know God) might have been a bit of a mormon myth.

Anyone know of any documentation supporting the "myth" perspective?
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

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alas
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Re: Willie-Martin testimony

Post by alas » Sat Dec 25, 2021 10:11 am

No documentation, just word of mouth from the group just one week in front of the two famous ones. My paternal ancestor is the guy whose journal get used for trek and for quoting on TV, so y’all have heard his journal quoted. But they were one week ahead and so nobody pays any attention to the fact that they ran out of food, got snowed on, got frostbite and had toes and even fingers amputated.

I have had idiots yell at me when I say that there were THREE handcart companies that had snow, that, no only Willie and Martin companies got snowed on, then quote my great great grandfather about walking through snow. Yeah, idiots who think they know what they are talking about but only know enough to think they know it all.

So, any way, history of generations of abuse in that line, father abusing children, then those children growing up and not dealing with their abuse so they take their pain out on their children. And as most of you know, it was my father who was abusive. His father and grandfather both abused him and he was a teenager for trek, so not the journal keeper. I really think it started with the trauma they had to stuff their feelings about and pretend everything is wonderful. My father told stories about his grandfather and the bitterness he felt toward the handcart experience. (I think he had to have his toes amputated)

They had more deaths in that hand cart company than all previous ones added together. Then of course, the Willie and Martin companies both had more than they did. My father said that leaving that late in the year was stupid and badly misplaced faith. “God gave us a brain and expects us to use it.” He even went so far as to say the decision by the leaders was not based on faith, but on the fact the it would cost the church too much (out of their immigration fund) and it was a financial decision. So, the handcarts were made out of still green wood, and the wood warped as it dried and the handcarts broke, slowing them down even more.

But, how much do you believe the stories of a bitter old man from when he was a 15 year old who had pulled a handcart?

See, handcarts were not one per family, but one per 15 people. They took the strongest men and teens and assigned them a handcart, with a tent and supplies. The 15 people slept in the tent and ate the food out of the handcart. The teen’s baby sister was assigned to his handcart rather then being with her mother!!! And rode his cart because she was too little to walk. I have always wondered why she wasn’t with her mother and father.

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2bizE
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Re: Willie-Martin testimony

Post by 2bizE » Sat Dec 25, 2021 1:40 pm

John Larsen had a fantastic discussion about this on a recent Mormon Stories. He tells of how much a cluster this really was. Church leaders had little regard for the people pulling the hand carts and planning was very poor. A much different story than what the church history portrays.
~2bizE

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deacon blues
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Re: Willie-Martin testimony

Post by deacon blues » Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:21 am

Andrew D. Olsen, in his book The Price We Paid (Deseret Book)refers to, and quotes from the Webster story on pages 2-3. For sources he cites: "William Palmer, in Van Cott, Generations of Websters, 61-62; see also David O. Mckay, "Pioneer Women," Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, 8."

My Great, Great Grandmother Tamar Loader Ricks was in the Martin Company. Her father died on the plains, well before they reached Wyoming.
The book Generations of Websters was apparently printed in 1960, 300 copies, for family and descendants. So the oldest source is the 1948 Relief Society Magazine.
God is Love. God is Truth. The greatest problem with organized religion is that the organization becomes god, rather than a means of serving God.

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Hagoth
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Re: Willie-Martin testimony

Post by Hagoth » Sun Dec 26, 2021 11:50 am

I was always told that none of the handcart pioneers ever spoke a word of regret complaint and that they all remained faithful members in SLC. Then Will Bagley told me that half of them got the hell out as soon as they had paid off their debts and were able to flee.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Palerider
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Re: Willie-Martin testimony

Post by Palerider » Sun Dec 26, 2021 6:28 pm

deacon blues wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:21 am
Andrew D. Olsen, in his book The Price We Paid (Deseret Book)refers to, and quotes from the Webster story on pages 2-3. For sources he cites: "William Palmer, in Van Cott, Generations of Websters,


Thank you all for the input.

I've been doing a little research on my own. Apparently a Bro. Willam Palmer had a faith promoting radio broadcast in Cedar City in the 1940's and in 1943 broadcast the first recorded story of Francis Webster's "testimony". Palmer said he recalled having heard the testimony from Francis Webster approximately 40 years earlier around 1904, which would have been some 50 odd years after the actual event. Palmer stated that "in substance, this is what Francis said" and then proceeded to give his recollection.

You can take that with as many grains of salt as you like.

I have no reason to believe that Webster made no such statement. But I also know how Mormons tend to embellish.

Regardless, as Hagoth noted Webster/Palmer was very mistaken in asserting that none of the handcart members left the church. Actually quite a number did and probably more would have if they had not been indebted to the church for the Perpetual Immigration Fund loan, which according to my research some of them were still trying to repay as many as TWENTY years later.

According to writer/researcher Connell O'Donovan:

"One example is Sarah Ann Briggs. She lost her father and siblings during the handcart trek. Then was orphaned when her mother died of a scorpion bite four years later. 14 year-old Sarah Ann was then coerced into marrying 42 year-old George Handley, and she became pregnant with her first child within a week of marriage. By the time she was 22, she was a widow with four children. She left the LDS church and became an Episcopalian, marrying Arvis Chapman. I interviewed her direct descendant, Ruth Thomas, in 1991, who told me that the LDS church took away her three surviving children by Handley and had them raised by her former sister wife, Elizabeth Clark Handley. (This is borne out by census data.) By Chapman, Sarah Ann did have two more children."

And so it goes in the Mormon faith.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

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deacon blues
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Re: Willie-Martin testimony

Post by deacon blues » Mon Dec 27, 2021 3:35 pm

William Palmer says: "He said in substance..."

I think that many faith promoting stories start as a coincidence or a dream, and after decades of rehashed recollection and being passed around such settings as Sunday School class they come out as full blown miracles and/or visions. I appreciate Pale Rider and Hagoth getting back to the origins of this story. :shock:
God is Love. God is Truth. The greatest problem with organized religion is that the organization becomes god, rather than a means of serving God.

Spicy McHaggis
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Re: Willie-Martin testimony

Post by Spicy McHaggis » Mon Dec 27, 2021 6:30 pm

2bizE wrote:
Sat Dec 25, 2021 1:40 pm
John Larsen had a fantastic discussion about this on a recent Mormon Stories. He tells of how much a cluster this really was. Church leaders had little regard for the people pulling the hand carts and planning was very poor. A much different story than what the church history portrays.
Yes, this is a great episode. I highly recommend everyone listen to it. There are so many mormon myths about the handcart companies and Larsen does an excellent job of getting to the truth.

His main source of info is a book by David Roberts called Devil's Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy. I have a copy but haven't read it yet so I can't give a review.

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Hagoth
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Re: Willie-Martin testimony

Post by Hagoth » Wed Dec 29, 2021 7:18 am

Spicy McHaggis wrote:
Mon Dec 27, 2021 6:30 pm
There are so many mormon myths about the handcart companies...
Don't you DARE suggest that little girl didn't actually find a fresh-baked pie in the trail. Miraculous baked goods appearances are the core of my testimony. My mom's favorite was the story of a hungry missionary who knelt and prayed for food and moments later found a still-warm loaf of bread wrapped in his mother's dish towel in an vacant lot. Simultaneously, thousands of miles away, his mother was alarmed that a loaf and a towel had gone missing. I have no doubt that with enough retellings this story could have inserted itself into the handcart canon and we would be talking about Eighteen Miracles.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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