Narrative of a Willie Handcart Company Member

70 [Mormon] TRIBUNE EXTRA! Brigham Young versus Apostates and Free Schools. Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Tribune Extra, April 15, 1873. Broadside, two tiny holes on browned paper, generally very good. OCLC finds only two locations (BYU and Wisconsin). The majority of this broadside is narrated by John Chislett: “In 1856 I took a company of emigrants from Zurich via Basle, Strasburg, Paris and London to Liverpool, and started them for this city. Under these circumstances I was called ‘to go to the valley.’ Ihad but 36 hours to prepare for the journey. I told the President at Liverpool I had no money, and only the clothes I stood in. He advanced me a little money, with which I bought a suit of rough clothing for the journey and gave me a passage by the Church emigration. For the cash advanced and cost of passage I gave my obligation to pay after arrival here. This, Sir, I paid into your office as soon as I was able. From the day I left Iowa City till the day I reached this city I worked like a slave in the interest of the company, life sometimes depending on my efforts. For a full account of the journey by hand-carts from Iowa City to Salt Lake City see my narrative in Stenhouse’s ‘Rocky Mountain Saints.’ The Church brought me, did it? Mr. Young, I walked every step of the road from Iowa City to Bridger, suffered hunger, thirst, cold, almost starvation, dug the graves of dozens of victims of your blind ambition, and after six years of constant toil, landed in this city without a dollar. You charged me eighty-three dollars for my suffering and labors, and I paid you, when I should have charged you ten times that amount.” Chislett’s account of the handcart expedition in Stenhouse indicates that he was sub-Captain of the 4th Company in the Willie Group. Despite the agitation he is expressing here, Chislett acknowledged in Stenhouse’s book (p. 325) that the suffering of that handcart company created bonds of friendship that withstood ‘the bitterness of Church discipline’ (after his excommunication from the Church). Any separately printed narrative from the Martin or Willie handcart company is exceedingly rare and almost never encountered in the market.

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