Saturday, July 23

Quote of the Day:  “Life marches by.  I suggest you get on with it.”  Katherine Hepburn

Exercise Log:  Joe and I went up Millcreek Canyon on trail to Dog Lake.  We went 4.02 miles.  It was a beautiful morning.  We got there about 7:30 A.M. and the temperature was 46 degrees.  It warmed up.  I’ll bet we saw at least 30 dogs!  I commented to Joe how many different breeds we saw, you name it, from Pug to Great Dane.

And every time I think life is hard, I am reminded that life has been hard for so many people, sometimes for a long time.  It is so difficult to watch the pictures of the displaced people in Somalia trying to get to a camp where they can get food and shelter, mothers trying to keep alive starving babies.  How horrific is it that a governing body won’t allow food and supplies to get to people?  It’s so hard to understand why some people have to suffer like they do. 

Since it’s close to the 24th of July I was thinking about my pioneer ancestors.  Christina McNeil was contacted by Mormon missionaries and felt compeled to leave her family in Scotland, even after they warned her that if she left to never darken their door again with her presence.  She was 24 years old, the year was 1856.  I can’t even imagine how much faith and guts she had to leave.  I wish I knew more of her story.  I wish she had kept a journal so I could understand how she felt and what she saw.  She joined with the Willie Handcart Company and came across the plains from Iowa City to Salt Lake walking no less than 1,300 miles.  No other family members joined her so she joined with the Caldwell family and they let her share their handcart.  Since they had only handcarts, I’m sure she had so few possessions and had to leave anything representing her life before the trail behind.  I’m also sure she must have questioned her decision many times along the way but I like to think that she also grew stronger physically and emotionally as she got up each morning and faced what was ahead.  I don’t know if she complained or cried or cursed God.  I only know that she made it.  As they were facing Rocky Ridge and a huge snow-storm in Wyoming, I can only imagine her despair to be away from her family and people who loved her.  I feel a lot of gratitude and desire to be strong when I think what she sacrificed to get to the Salt Lake Valley.  Here’s an excerpt from a journal about her.

“A young lady, Christina McNeil, who was making the trip under Mother’s care, visited one of the generals in command at the fort to obtain permission to trade some trinkets and silver spoons for flour and meat. The officer said . . . to leave the young lady in his office while Mother went to another station. . . . During her absence the officer used the time in trying to persuade Christina to stay there, proposing to her and showing her the gold he had, telling her what a fine lady he would make of her. Then he tried discouraging her, pointing out to her how the handcart company would never reach Utah . . . that they would die of cold and hunger and exposure. Like all noble girls, and true to the cause for which she had left her native Scotland, . . . she told him in plain language she would take her chances with the others even though it might mean death. She was greatly relieved to have Mother return. The officer, however, seemed to admire her very much for her loyalty to her faith and gave her a large cured ham and wished her well.”  Agnes Caldwell, age 9, Willie Handcart Company
Here’s another journal entry about how they kept their spirits high:
“We did all we could to aid and encourage each other. . . . In the blizzards and falling snow, we sat under our handcart and sang ‘Come, Come Ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear, but with joy, wend your way. Though hard to you, this journey may appear, grace shall be, as your day.’ . . . We traveled on, trusting in God. . . . I am thankful that I was counted worthy to be a pioneer and a handcart girl. It prepared me to endure hard times in my future life. I often think of the songs we sang to encourage us on our toilsome journey. It was hard to endure, but the Lord gave us strength and courage.”


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4 Responses to Saturday, July 23

  1. Erin July 26, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Joanie, a member of our stake here is a descendant of Margaret Ann Caldwell. It’s been enlightening to talk with him and learn more about their journey. I’m sure these two women had to rely on one another because it was just the two of them and Margerets children. Christina even named one of her daughters Margaret Ann.

  2. Susan July 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    Hi, I’m a descendant of Cristina’s too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about her.

  3. Dede August 29, 2011 at 3:28 am #

    I am also a descendant of Christina. I also respect her for her courage and faith. Thanks for the posting.

  4. Brian Reynolds MacKay September 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Christina was the grandmother of my grandmother. What remarkable woman she must have been.

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