Elizabeth Simpson Haigh Bradshaw
A Member of the Edward Martin Handcart Company of 1856
Written by her granddaughter, Sarah Astle Call
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They traveled onward, even the children walked. Bridges across the streams were scarce, and to ford or wade was the custom. When the Company reached the banks of the north branch of the Platte River, everyone had to cross, and quite a problem arose. Some were too old and weak, and others too small; who could, carried them over on their backs. Grandmother's eldest daughter, Sarah Ann Haigh, a girl of 19 years, carried sixteen people across the river.
Here Elizabeth Bradshaw proved the great faith she had in her God. She, a very small woman, took her youngest son Richard, a lad of six years, seated him upon her shoulders with legs around her neck, and holding to her head. She started across the stream, was caught by a ripple in the water, and was carried some distance down the stream below the ford. It looked as if death was inevitable for both mother and son. Several called, "Let the boy go from your shoulders or you will both be drowned. Save yourself and let him go into the water."
She refused and struggled on and on. She finally reached the opposite side, but at a place where the bank was very high and steep, and she could not possibly climb out. Others came to her assistance and someone reached down, took Richard from her shoulders, and pulled him up the steep bank to safety. Others helped her out of the water, and in her exhausted condition, she raised her right arm to the square as a witness of the testimony she then bore to the waiting crowd that God had protected and saved both mother and son.
She related to them that before she left England to go on this trip, a servant of the Lord had pronounced a blessing upon her head and promised that she should take all her children to Zion. This incident was related in a testimony meeting in sacrament meeting by this very son, Richard, when he had grown to manhood. At the close of the meeting, a man in the audience arose and said, "I am the man who lifted that little boy from his mother's shoulders out of the Platte River."
Another time her seventeen year old son Samuel was brought into camp and pronounced dead, and to all appearances it was true. But Grandmother's faith remained unchanged. She still insisted she would take all of her children to Zion. So she asked the Elders to anoint him with oil and administer to him, and they did. He recovered through this blessing and the tender care of his mother.
It was late in the season, and conditions became such that the food had to be rationed. Grandmother's share was one level pint of flour per day for six people. Two tablespoons full was the amount for a boy of six years.
Conditions grew steadily worse. Clothing and shoes were in rags. The cold and storms of approaching winter were severe, but they traveled on, making at the most only a few miles a day. The suffering was intense, and one morning they heard sobbing, and discovered that in the tent next to theirs a lady had awakened to find her husband and little child dead, one on each side of her.
Another case was of a little boy whose feet were so badly frozen that he lost both of them, and yet later learned to climb a ladder faster than most boys with feet. The writer, in relating this story to the Relief Society Teachers, was surprised to have one of them say, "That was my own Grandfather, he has a large posterity."
This belated handcart company was finally met by men and teams sent out by Brigham Young, who also sent food. They arrived in Salt Lake City on November 30, 1856. Grandmother and her family were sent to Bountiful, Utah, and their first meal was eaten at the home of Bishop Stoker. They remained there six years until they moved to Hyrum, Utah, in 1862.
Here they endured pioneer life in Cache Valley. Their home was a small log building, with dirt floor and roof, and a sheepskin covering on the bed to help keep them warm.
Through all this, she was never heard to complain, but taught her children that if they only had a piece of bread, to ask the blessing of the Lord upon it and thank him for it. She always said, "The Lord knows best."
Shortly after moving to Hyrum, her eldest son Samuel was killed in a sawmill. As her children became older, financial situations improved, but her faith never wavered.
She, who had been born to people of wealth and influence in her native land, England, died a humble member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1873 at Hyrum, Utah, and was buried in the cemetery of that place.
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