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I'm not interested in arguing with you, Scott.  My initial point was, that the original handcart treks had nothing to do with the Mormon Battalion.  This is non-history.

And, as I recall, I agreed with you on that point. I will do so again if you like: Youth handcart treks should not convey the notion that the Mormon Battalion had anything to do with the handcart experience.

 

Second, if you want to re-enact the height of the crisis of the W&M handcast disaster, then this should be clear.  And in the W&M disaster, there was no time when all the men were dead (or standing by the side of the trail) while only women pulled/pushed the carts.  It didn't happen.  That's all.

I don't think the activity is intended to be taken that literally.

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I have been on one of these treks.  It was well planned, and a blast.  Here are my thoughts.

 

A trek can help teach history, but we should avoid pseudo-history.  Many of these trek reenactments include a "men go away with the Mormon Battalion, so women have to pull carts uphill without them".   Um, it didn't happen.  The Mormon Battalion was 1846 to 1847, and the first handcart company was in 1856.  That's around 10 years difference.  There is plenty of fascinating Mormon history to explore, so there's no need to make stuff up.  

 

    

 

That is interesting!  I hadn't realized that.

 

Our trek was a literal reenactment of the Mormon battalion call, with US Army cavalry riders swooping in. The men and boys were pulled away at that point and there was to be no verbal communication. 

 

I'll have to make mention of this next go around.

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I am curious to know whether women were allowed to pull their own cart by themselves.  I'm no historian, but my understanding is single women (or women with children) traveled with a company.   Five persons were assigned per handcart, with a 17 pound weight limit per person for personal items.   Twenty persons per tent (co-ed, probably not a good idea for trek re-enactments.)  But I would be surprised if any handcarts were pulled/pushed only by women (except during the disaster).

 

It was not a mater of "allowed".  It was a necessity.  They pulled or they died.  This is one example of what I was talking about in my first post in this thread.

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That is interesting! I hadn't realized that.

Our trek was a literal reenactment of the Mormon battalion call, with US Army cavalry riders swooping in. The men and boys were pulled away at that point and there was to be no verbal communication.

I'll have to make mention of this next go around.

I thought it was fairly basic knowledge that the handcart period did not happen until 1856, a decade after the exodus from Nauvoo and the enlistment of the Mormon Battalion. It is unfortunate that the organizers of your trek exhibited such lack of historical literacy, but you can hardly blame them when you, yourself, did not grasp this fact until now. Edited by Scott Lloyd

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I thought it was fairly basic knowledge that the handcart period did not happen until 1856, a decade after the exodus from Nauvoo and the enlistment of the Mormon Battalion.

 

Maybe not as basic as you think. 

 

 

It is unfortunate that the organizers of your trek exhibited such lack of historical literacy, but you can hardly blame them when you, yourself, did not grasp this fact until now.

 

Who is assigning blame?

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Maybe not as basic as you think. 

 

Maybe not if you've never bothered to crack open a book on Church history or pay much attention in a Church seminary, institute or Sunday School class.

 

Who is assigning blame?

 

Craig in Austin seems to be -- or at least engaging in criticism.

 

You I'm not so sure about.

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That is interesting!  I hadn't realized that.

 

Our trek was a literal reenactment of the Mormon battalion call, with US Army cavalry riders swooping in. The men and boys were pulled away at that point and there was to be no verbal communication. 

 

I'll have to make mention of this next go around.

 

 

The Church actually produces podcasts on different subjects, and one of these was called "Mormon Myths".  In it, they interview some members of the Church history department, and one of the "myths" they talk about is this very thing.  It starts at 47:35:

 

http://www.mormonchannel.org/legacy/39?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LDSLegacy+%28LDS+Radio%3A+Legacy%29

 

In discussing the "Women's Pull" on these Trek Reenactments, where the men are taken away to join the Mormon Battalion, leaving the women to pull the handcarts, the historian says the following:

 

It's very emotional.  And if you talk to these people, they'll say "This was the greatest part of it".  Well, the problem is there's no recruitment of the Mormon Battalion of the Handcart Pioneers.  And, there's this emotional response.  But the Spirit cannot testify of a lie.  It's very important that we get these things right, because the Spirit will not testify of something that isn't true.
Edited by cinepro

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The Church actually produces podcasts on different subjects, and one of these was called "Mormon Myths".  In it, they interview some members of the Church history department, and one of the "myths" they talk about is this very thing.  It starts at 47:35:

 

http://www.mormonchannel.org/legacy/39?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LDSLegacy+%28LDS+Radio%3A+Legacy%29

 

In discussing the "Women's Pull" on these Trek Reenactments, where the men are taken away to join the Mormon Battalion, leaving the women to pull the handcarts, the historian says the following:

I agree with the quoted statement.

 

It sounds like a fun podcast, and I look forward to listening to it in its entirety.

 

I did listen to the portion starting at the point you mentioned, though. I note that the speaker referred to stake- or ward-sponsored youth handcart treks where there is a portrayal of uniformed soldiers coming to recruit men for the Mormon Battalion.

 

As I mentioned earlier on this thread, the only trek I have been a part of was at the official Church historic site of Martin's Cove in Wyoming, where I covered a reunion of Martin company descendants for a Church News feature. As I mentioned there was a point where women pulled handcarts up the hill. But there was no portrayal of uniformed soldiers, no reference to the Mormon Battalion. Had there been, I would have been very bothered, as I am well-versed in the history enough to know that the Mormon Battalion march was concurrent with the Nauvoo exodus of 1846-47, and that the handcart period of Mormon Trail history did not transpire until 1856-60.

 

As it was, I took this as a symbolic tribute to the women in the handcart companies who were obliged to proceed on their own or with their children after their husbands had died. I think Craig in Austin is right in saying that this should be made clear to trek participants so that they don't get confused as to factual history.

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The Church actually produces podcasts on different subjects, and one of these was called "Mormon Myths".  In it, they interview some members of the Church history department, and one of the "myths" they talk about is this very thing.  It starts at 47:35:

 

http://www.mormonchannel.org/legacy/39?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LDSLegacy+%28LDS+Radio%3A+Legacy%29

 

In discussing the "Women's Pull" on these Trek Reenactments, where the men are taken away to join the Mormon Battalion, leaving the women to pull the handcarts, the historian says the following:

That's an interesting podcast- thanks for sharing.  I agree with his sentiments about keeping true to history.   It does sound fun and interesting to have Mormon Battalion recruiters show up at a trek. As he said, a short explanation of this event could be used to clarify things.  I think it's fascinating that the very government who failed to protect the saints, allowing them to be expelled with cannons from Nauvoo, and be forced to leave the United States, would have the nerve to ask for recruits in the army at the same time.  And they indeed took away many of the most capable men from the initial wagon companies.  The church desperately needed funds (since they lost their homes and land with little or no compensation), and the Battalion offered a means to provide this.  Anyway, I think there's plenty of material to provide fascinating pioneer stories for the treks.

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That's an interesting podcast- thanks for sharing.  I agree with his sentiments about keeping true to history.   It does sound fun and interesting to have Mormon Battalion recruiters show up at a trek. As he said, a short explanation of this event could be used to clarify things.  I think it's fascinating that the very government who failed to protect the saints, allowing them to be expelled with cannons from Nauvoo, and be forced to leave the United States, would have the nerve to ask for recruits in the army at the same time.  And they indeed took away many of the most capable men from the initial wagon companies.  The church desperately needed funds (since they lost their homes and land with little or no compensation), and the Battalion offered a means to provide this.  Anyway, I think there's plenty of material to provide fascinating pioneer stories for the treks.

Brigham Young actively lobbied for the Battallion, and the Church approached Washington about participating in the war. The pay, horses, and guns (which the men were allowed to keep) were a huge boon to the Saints, despite the sacrifice of being without hundreds of able-bodied men on the trek west.  

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My two older kids went on a trek re-enactment in 104-degree weather in Oklahoma. The whole thing was very poorly planned, and more than two dozen youths and adults ended up in the ER. My daughter got heat exhaustion, and both my son and daughter came home badly sunburned and covered in ticks and chiggers (I didn't even know what a chigger was until then). My daughter later was assigned to write a paper in school about "My worst experience ever," and she wrote about the trek.

By the time my youngest daughter was old enough, we had moved to Utah, and she did the trek to Martin's Cove. This time I made sure I was confident that the trip was well-planned and safe. And my wife and I had a long talk about the whole thing with my daughter to make sure she knew was she was getting into and that she would do what she needed to stay safe. This trek was much better planned and safe, and she had a good time.

Personally, I think the handcart experiment was a disastrous mistake, so it's a little weird that it's commemorated the way it is.

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Sounds like your Oklahoma trek was historically accurate, then . . . ;)

 

I think it's pretty clear that I'm not a big fan of "extravaganza" type activities, in general. 

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My two older kids went on a trek re-enactment in 104-degree weather in Oklahoma. The whole thing was very poorly planned, and more than two dozen youths and adults ended up in the ER. My daughter got heat exhaustion, and both my son and daughter came home badly sunburned and covered in ticks and chiggers (I didn't even know what a chigger was until then). My daughter later was assigned to write a paper in school about "My worst experience ever," and she wrote about the trek.By the time my youngest daughter was old enough, we had moved to Utah, and she did the trek to Martin's Cove. This time I made sure I was confident that the trip was well-planned and safe. And my wife and I had a long talk about the whole thing with my daughter to make sure she knew was she was getting into and that she would do what she needed to stay safe. This trek was much better planned and safe, and she had a good time.Personally, I think the handcart experiment was a disastrous mistake, so it's a little weird that it's commemorated the way it is.

The Willie-Martin company was the only disaster. The other companies did very well. I believe there is evidence that most them actually arrived in the valley in better shape than the wagon trains.

As for the Battalion bit, I suggest that is analogous to wise men at nativities. But yes, it should be clarified.

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The Willie-Martin company was the only disaster. The other companies did very well. I believe there is evidence that most them actually arrived in the valley in better shape than the wagon trains.

As for the Battalion bit, I suggest that is analogous to wise men at nativities. But yes, it should be clarified.

That's not my understanding. The Willie-Martin company was, indeed, the disaster, but the experiment in total had far more deaths and much more suffering than the wagon trains did, though I'd have to look up the sources again.

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Sounds like your Oklahoma trek was historically accurate, then . . . ;)

 

I think it's pretty clear that I'm not a big fan of "extravaganza" type activities, in general.

It was the fireside after the trek that killed off my son's faith in the church.

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It was the fireside after the trek that killed off my son's faith in the church.

In what way?

 

I'm not sure where you were spiritually at that time, but if your faith in the church was bad at the time, that was probably a contributing factor as well, right?

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In what way?

 

I'm not sure where you were spiritually at that time, but if your faith in the church was bad at the time, that was probably a contributing factor as well, right?

Nope. My son was involved in an emergency situation on the trek, and the stake president chose to embellish (to put it mildly) the story during the fireside so as to turn it into a miracle. My son turned to me, distraught, and said, "But Dad! That's a lie! None of that happened!"

We had a long talk about it over several days, and I tried to explain to him that sometimes well-meaning people want things to be inspirational, so they see the miraculous where it may not actually be. He was 17 and struggling with his beliefs anyway, but he told me that he didn't know if he could trust the church in big things if they lied about small things. Nothing I said made any difference. I'm fine with my kids making their own decisions about religion, but it still bothers me that at that age he took that incident to be more than it really was--perhaps the opposite of what the stake president did.

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The Willie-Martin company was the only disaster. The other companies did very well. I believe there is evidence that most them actually arrived in the valley in better shape than the wagon trains.

As for the Battalion bit, I suggest that is analogous to wise men at nativities. But yes, it should be clarified.

The Willie and Martin companies were two different companies. Of the roughly 3000 handcart emigrants, over 1000 were in those two companies.

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My two older kids went on a trek re-enactment in 104-degree weather in Oklahoma. The whole thing was very poorly planned, and more than two dozen youths and adults ended up in the ER. My daughter got heat exhaustion, and both my son and daughter came home badly sunburned and covered in ticks and chiggers (I didn't even know what a chigger was until then). My daughter later was assigned to write a paper in school about "My worst experience ever," and she wrote about the trek.

By the time my youngest daughter was old enough, we had moved to Utah, and she did the trek to Martin's Cove. This time I made sure I was confident that the trip was well-planned and safe. And my wife and I had a long talk about the whole thing with my daughter to make sure she knew was she was getting into and that she would do what she needed to stay safe. This trek was much better planned and safe, and she had a good time.

Personally, I think the handcart experiment was a disastrous mistake, so it's a little weird that it's commemorated the way it is.

I think the church emphasizes that people grew closer to their maker than if they had not gone through such a horrible ordeal. Edited by Tacenda

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I think the church emphasizes that people grew closer to their maker than if they had not gone through such a horrible ordeal.

 

Unfortunately, many of them got closer to their maker than they would have hoped.

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Unfortunately, many of them got closer to their maker than they would have hoped.

Yep, they did. I often wonder what their life would have been like had they not joined the church. I remember stories of some of them leaving some beautiful places to come out west to a desert. They made huge sacrifices. And those they left behind... neighbors, friends and maybe family...probably living it up.

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I'm not a trek fan. Several of my kids did treks. Most of them thought it was a fun outing. One had somewhat of a spiritual experience.

They reported situations that were contrived to cause distress only to be "rescued" by a miracle. I couldn't confirm that these were

planned, but if they were, that is not the Spirit. It is manipulation. Sleep, food, and comfort deprivation are more in line with brain-washing. Putting kids and adults in situations that may be injurious or life-threatening is irresponsible. To have them "rescued" by the Priesthood borders on blasphemy. The resulting emotional reactions are then equated with the Spirit. Not good, in my opinion. Others who have planned treks may be able to shed more light. Are things "planned" to go awry to give opportunity for prayer and blessings?

 

The cost in time and money is extravagant, involving dozens of people who already have significant time-consuming callings,

months of preparation, meetings, scouting the terrain, making carts, etc., etc., etc.

Seems to me putting all that effort into a substantial and meaningful service project would be a far better use of time and resources.

I don't think leaders should be called Ma and Pa. That's the names I give my father and mother. 

 

And I had ancestors in the Willie [EDIT] company. One wrote in his story that they buried two [EDIT] little girls who froze to death one night. The girls were so hungry that they had gnawed off the flesh of their fingers.Another night, the family discovered a pin cushion in

their belongings that was filled with bran. They cooked it and ate it with thankfulness. [EDIT] The father slept with the family ration of wheat flour  [EDIT] in his bed. He was awakened in the night and found a man trying

to steal it. He told him if he stole that bran from his little children, he would not live to see the end of the journey (he did not

threaten the man's life). The next morning the man was found frozen. I don't think we honor those people with "pioneer treks."

 

But these are just my opinions, and I may be wrong.

Edited by Bernard Gui

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Maybe not if you've never bothered to crack open a book on Church history or pay much attention in a Church seminary, institute or Sunday School class.

 

Craig in Austin seems to be -- or at least engaging in criticism.

 

You I'm not so sure about.

 

No need to be insulting.

 

So it appears that this Mormon battalion/women's pull theme is a fairly widespread event in handcart trek reinactments, which could only mean, according to you, that there is an unfortunate epidemic in the church of historical illiteracy caused by "never bothering to crack open a book on Church history or pay much attention in a Church seminary, institute or Sunday School class".

 

Or maybe, since it is basic knowledge, everyone involved is simply complicit in an ahistorically contrived reenactment. 

 

Or maybe, to our relief, there are a great many members who do crack open books, pay attention in seminary, institute and sunday school class, but when going by their mere recollections simply failed to catch the mismatch in the timeline.

Edited by Senator

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I'm not a trek fan. Several of my kids did treks. Most of them thought it was a fun outing. One had somewhat of a spiritual experience.

They reported situations that were contrived to cause distress only to be "rescued" by a miracle. I couldn't confirm that these were

planned, but if they were, that is not the Spirit. It is manipulation. Sleep, food, and comfort deprivation are more in line with brain-washing.

Putting kids and adults in situations that may be injurious or life-threatening is irresponsible. To have them "rescued" by the Priesthood

borders on blasphemy. The resulting emotional reactions are then equated with the Spirit. Not good, in my opinion. Others who have

planned treks may be able to shed more light. Are things "planned" to go awry to give opportunity for prayer and blessings?

 

The cost in time and money is extravagant, involving dozens of people who already have significant time-consuming callings,

months of preparation, meetings, scouting the terrain, making carts, etc., etc., etc.

Seems to me putting all that effort into a substantial and meaningful service project would be a far better use of time and resources.

I don't think leaders should be called Ma and Pa. That's the names I give my father and mother. 

 

And I had ancestors in the Martin company. One wrote in his story that theyburied three little girls who froze to death one night.

The girls were so hungry that they had gnawed off the flesh of their fingers.Another night, the family discovered a pin cushion in

their belongings that was filled with bran. The father slept with it in his bed. He was awakened in the night and found a man trying

to steal it. He told him if he stole that bran from his little children, he would not live to see the end of the journey (he did not

threaten the man's life). The next morning the man was found frozen. I don't think we honor those people with "pioneer treks."

 

But these are just my opinions, and I may be wrong.

 

Thanks for sharing that shory, it's incredible what the early saints went through.  The Willie and Martin handcart story is an excellent example of the sacrifices people are willing to make for their faith, but I would like to see the modern saints also use it as an example of what can happen when we blindly follow our leaders even if their directives go against common sense or ones own conscience.

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That's not my understanding. The Willie-Martin company was, indeed, the disaster, but the experiment in total had far more deaths and much more suffering than the wagon trains did, though I'd have to look up the sources again.

I don't believe that's true, jkwilliams. Other than the ill-fated Martin and Willie treks, I don't think the other companies had more than the average fatalities for overland travel of the time period. If you can document the contrary, I'm willing to listen.

 

Some years ago at the Mormon History Association Conference held that year in Casper, Wyo., I heard Professor Bill Hartley, a recognized expert on the Mormon Trail, talk about the handcart experience. He related an incident of when he was at the Martin's Cove Visitors Center in Wyoming. One of the Church missionaries there said essentially what you just did here: that the handcart venture was a disastrous mistake. By his own account, Bill almost came unglued. He let the missionary know in no uncertain terms that, apart from the Willie and Martin company experiences, the handcart venture by and large was a success.

 

He felt so bad about his reaction that he came back the next day to apologize and made amends by seeing to it that the missionaries at the visitors center got some needed supplies.

 

Edited to add:

 

According to Encyclopedia of Mormonism, of the 2,962 immigrants who walked to Utah with handcarts, about 250 died along the way, and all but about 30 of those were in the Willie and Martin companies.

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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