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Scott Lloyd

Handcart era -- correcting some false assumptions

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Posted (edited)

In a thread that was closed back on June 30, changed made some comments about the handcart era in Church history that are based on false assumptions/insinuations that I believe need correcting. The comments were peripheral to the main point of changed's thread and warrant, I believe, a separate discussion, this being the season of Pioneer Day and all. 

Here is what changed said:

Quote

Trek - How many died in the original trek?  unprepared, unprotected...  starvation, froze to death rather than wait and travel in the summer etc. etc.  does not appear inspired... and yet this trajedy is celebrated as something to be proud of (rather than embarrassed of?)  

To which I respond:

What do you mean by "the original trek"? Do you realize that there were 10 treks in all over a five-year period and that most of them were fairly uneventful and, in terms of accomplishing the purpose for which they were intended, successful?

Only the fourth and fifth of the treks -- the famous and ill-fated Willie and Martin companies -- suffered tragedy and disaster, and this was due to an anomalous perfect storm of circumstances and conditions. The number who perished in those companies was 68 and about 145, respectively.

That leaves eight out of the 10 that did not suffer undue hardship. I heard once that the number of individuals who died during those treks was not much higher than the death rate overall in the 1850s, not just for overland travelers but for pretty much the population as a whole.

Anyway, here are the number of deaths per handcart company as per Wikipedia:

First: 13 out of 274

Second: seven out of 221

Third: about seven out of 320

Sixth: likely none out of 149

Seventh: about six out of 330

Eighth: about five out of 235

Ninth: one out of 233

Tenth: none out of 124

As mentioned, the above information was easily accessed from a Wikipedia entry. It took me less than a minute of searching. 

This goes for every would-be critic, but next time, before using the handcart experience as a club with which to publicly bludgeon the Church of Jesus Christ, do a bit of basic investigation first.

 

 

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

In a thread that was closed back on June 30, changed made some comments about the handcart era in Church history that are based on false assumptions/insinuations that I believe need correcting. The comments were peripheral to the main point of changed's thread and warrant, I believe, a separate discussion, this being the season of Pioneer Day and all. 

Here is what changed said:

To which I respond:

What do you mean by "the original trek"? Do you realize that there were 10 treks in all over a five-year period and that most of them were fairly uneventful and, in terms of accomplishing the purpose for which they were intended, successful?

Only the fourth and fifth of the treks -- the famous and ill-fated Willey and Martin companies -- suffered tragedy and disaster, and this was due to an anomalous perfect storm of circumstances and conditions. The number who perished in those companies was 68 and about 145, respectively.

That leaves eight out of the 10 that did not suffer undue hardship. I heard once that the number of individuals who died during those treks was not much higher than the death rate overall in the 1850s, not just for overland travelers but for pretty much the population as a whole.

Anyway, here are the number of deaths per handcart company as per Wikipedia:

First: 13 out of 274

Second: seven out of 221

Third: about seven out of 320

Sixth: likely none out of 149

Seventh: about six out of 330

Eighth: about five out of 235

Ninth: one out of 233

Tenth: none out of 124

As mentioned, the above information was easily accessed from a Wikipedia entry. It took me less than a minute of searching. 

This goes for every would-be critic, but next time, before using the handcart experience as a club with which to publicly bludgeon the Church of Jesus Christ, do a bit of basic investigation first.

 

 

 

For me when I read about this tragedy I get pretty emotional about it.  To speak of leadership failures, poverty and other circumstances which contributed is ok for analysis to mitigate against future mistakes but we must honor the dead and propel movement to help others today suffering similar difficulty.

Edited by blueglass
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4 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

This goes for every would-be critic, but next time, before using the handcart experience as a club with which to publicly bludgeon the Church of Jesus Christ, do a bit of basic investigation first.

Does that go for this statement also?

4 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I heard once that the number of individuals who died during those treks was not much higher than the death rate overall in the 1850s, not just for overland travelers but for pretty much the population as a whole.

Don't you think you owe it to us to provide documentation for what you heard once? Also, what does "not much higher" mean?

Come on Scott, you chastise critics for not doing basic investigation, yet earlier in the same post make a claim without documentation and with vague numbers.

 

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The only reason they do handcarts for the trek is that they are easier/cheaper to build/store/use (because no livestock is involveed, which would none the less provide a new dimension to what occurs) and a little less likely to carve ruts in environmentally destructive ways.   I'm not sure why we just don't acknowledge that the current treks are an amalgamation of the experiences of pioneers, in a way that is easiest to recreate those experiences.

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5 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

In a thread that was closed back on June 30, changed made some comments about the handcart era in Church history that are based on false assumptions/insinuations that I believe need correcting. The comments were peripheral to the main point of changed's thread and warrant, I believe, a separate discussion, this being the season of Pioneer Day and all. 

Here is what changed said:

To which I respond:

What do you mean by "the original trek"? Do you realize that there were 10 treks in all over a five-year period and that most of them were fairly uneventful and, in terms of accomplishing the purpose for which they were intended, successful?

Only the fourth and fifth of the treks -- the famous and ill-fated Willey and Martin companies -- suffered tragedy and disaster, and this was due to an anomalous perfect storm of circumstances and conditions. The number who perished in those companies was 68 and about 145, respectively.

That leaves eight out of the 10 that did not suffer undue hardship. I heard once that the number of individuals who died during those treks was not much higher than the death rate overall in the 1850s, not just for overland travelers but for pretty much the population as a whole.

Anyway, here are the number of deaths per handcart company as per Wikipedia:

First: 13 out of 274

Second: seven out of 221

Third: about seven out of 320

Sixth: likely none out of 149

Seventh: about six out of 330

Eighth: about five out of 235

Ninth: one out of 233

Tenth: none out of 124

As mentioned, the above information was easily accessed from a Wikipedia entry. It took me less than a minute of searching. 

This goes for every would-be critic, but next time, before using the handcart experience as a club with which to publicly bludgeon the Church of Jesus Christ, do a bit of basic investigation first.

 

 

 

This answer by Susan Easton Black, is sounding like there were a lot more than the numbers you've given here Scott. 

 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1998/07/i-have-a-question/i-have-a-question?lang=eng

The first attempt to answer the question of how many Latter-day Saints died during the migration west was made by a remarkable assistant Church historian named Andrew Jenson. Nearly a century ago, he put his staff to work compiling data about each Latter-day Saint wagon company that came west between 1847 and 1869. They scoured diaries, wagon train journals, and pioneer recollections then on file in the historian’s office. Their massive research produced findings that were compiled into Church emigration files, some of which he published.1 Based on sources then available, Brother Jenson estimated that about 6,000 LDS travelers died.2 Since then, those estimates have continued to be used in Church history literature.

However, today we are attempting to provide updated death totals3 based on sources to which Brother Jenson did not have access. In our computer era, data from all sources, old and new, are being carefully extracted, input, and calculated. Research is still in process. But, based on new research, historians are reevaluating the death figure of 6,000, and many think that the number may be closer to 4,600.4

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2 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

This answer by Susan Easton Black, is sounding like there were a lot more than the numbers you've given here Scott. 

 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1998/07/i-have-a-question/i-have-a-question?lang=eng

The first attempt to answer the question of how many Latter-day Saints died during the migration west was made by a remarkable assistant Church historian named Andrew Jenson. Nearly a century ago, he put his staff to work compiling data about each Latter-day Saint wagon company that came west between 1847 and 1869. They scoured diaries, wagon train journals, and pioneer recollections then on file in the historian’s office. Their massive research produced findings that were compiled into Church emigration files, some of which he published.1 Based on sources then available, Brother Jenson estimated that about 6,000 LDS travelers died.2 Since then, those estimates have continued to be used in Church history literature.

However, today we are attempting to provide updated death totals3 based on sources to which Brother Jenson did not have access. In our computer era, data from all sources, old and new, are being carefully extracted, input, and calculated. Research is still in process. But, based on new research, historians are reevaluating the death figure of 6,000, and many think that the number may be closer to 4,600.4

I wonder how far reaching this is extending.

For numbers like these I'd expect it to include the dreadful winter at Winter Quarters and deaths upon arrival in the valley.

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14 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

This answer by Susan Easton Black, is sounding like there were a lot more than the numbers you've given here Scott. 

 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1998/07/i-have-a-question/i-have-a-question?lang=eng

The first attempt to answer the question of how many Latter-day Saints died during the migration west was made by a remarkable assistant Church historian named Andrew Jenson. Nearly a century ago, he put his staff to work compiling data about each Latter-day Saint wagon company that came west between 1847 and 1869. They scoured diaries, wagon train journals, and pioneer recollections then on file in the historian’s office. Their massive research produced findings that were compiled into Church emigration files, some of which he published.1 Based on sources then available, Brother Jenson estimated that about 6,000 LDS travelers died.2 Since then, those estimates have continued to be used in Church history literature.

However, today we are attempting to provide updated death totals3 based on sources to which Brother Jenson did not have access. In our computer era, data from all sources, old and new, are being carefully extracted, input, and calculated. Research is still in process. But, based on new research, historians are reevaluating the death figure of 6,000, and many think that the number may be closer to 4,600.4

Those numbers include not just the crossing of the plains, but also deaths at the staging areas (like Winter Quarters) and travel to the staging areas (like crossing the Atlantic or travel from the eastern ports to the staging areas).

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The Hunt and Hodgetts wagon train that were with the Martin and Willie handcart companies also had a high death toll but not as bad as the handcart companies:

23 out of 271 - 8.5%

11 out of 163 - 6.7%

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34 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

This answer by Susan Easton Black, is sounding like there were a lot more than the numbers you've given here Scott. 

 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1998/07/i-have-a-question/i-have-a-question?lang=eng

The first attempt to answer the question of how many Latter-day Saints died during the migration west was made by a remarkable assistant Church historian named Andrew Jenson. Nearly a century ago, he put his staff to work compiling data about each Latter-day Saint wagon company that came west between 1847 and 1869. They scoured diaries, wagon train journals, and pioneer recollections then on file in the historian’s office. Their massive research produced findings that were compiled into Church emigration files, some of which he published.1 Based on sources then available, Brother Jenson estimated that about 6,000 LDS travelers died.2 Since then, those estimates have continued to be used in Church history literature.

However, today we are attempting to provide updated death totals3 based on sources to which Brother Jenson did not have access. In our computer era, data from all sources, old and new, are being carefully extracted, input, and calculated. Research is still in process. But, based on new research, historians are reevaluating the death figure of 6,000, and many think that the number may be closer to 4,600.4

The death tolls might have included the awful forces winter trek from Missouri to Nauvoo, as well as well as the forced winter trek across Iowa. 

What precisely is the point here? That evil, wicked, mean, and bad, and nasty patriarchal white devils disguised as men held back from poor women resources that would have alleviated suffering?

There were no resources withheld. Those in charge of the westering allocated what they could from what they had.

If you must blame somebody, why not the vicious beasts who made the westering necessary? The ones who killed her who should have been my great, great grandmother, who lies with her twin babies in Iowa somewhere on the way, and her who was my great, great grandmother, who lies in the Brigham City cemetery with her twin babies whom we lost during the trek to Payson in advance of Johnston's Army.

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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

This answer by Susan Easton Black, is sounding like there were a lot more than the numbers you've given here Scott. 

 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1998/07/i-have-a-question/i-have-a-question?lang=eng

The first attempt to answer the question of how many Latter-day Saints died during the migration west was made by a remarkable assistant Church historian named Andrew Jenson. Nearly a century ago, he put his staff to work compiling data about each Latter-day Saint wagon company that came west between 1847 and 1869. They scoured diaries, wagon train journals, and pioneer recollections then on file in the historian’s office. Their massive research produced findings that were compiled into Church emigration files, some of which he published.1 Based on sources then available, Brother Jenson estimated that about 6,000 LDS travelers died.2 Since then, those estimates have continued to be used in Church history literature.

However, today we are attempting to provide updated death totals3 based on sources to which Brother Jenson did not have access. In our computer era, data from all sources, old and new, are being carefully extracted, input, and calculated. Research is still in process. But, based on new research, historians are reevaluating the death figure of 6,000, and many think that the number may be closer to 4,600.4

You are forgetting that the numbers I’ve given here are from ONLY the handcart treks. Those treks comprised only a small fraction of the entire Mormon Pioneer movement, which was mostly by ox-drawn wagons, not handcarts, and extended from 1846 to 1869. The handcart era was only from 1856 to 1860, and there were wagon train treks even during those years. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, USU78 said:

The death tolls might have included the awful forces winter trek from Missouri to Nauvoo, as well as well as the forced winter trek across Iowa. 

What precisely is the point here? That evil, wicked, mean, and bad, and nasty patriarchal white devils disguised as men held back from poor women resources that would have alleviated suffering?

There were no resources withheld. Those in charge of the westering allocated what they could from what they had.

If you must blame somebody, why not the vicious beasts who made the westering necessary? The ones who killed her who should have been my great, great grandmother, who lies with her twin babies in Iowa somewhere on the way, and her who was my great, great grandmother, who lies in the Brigham City cemetery with her twin babies whom we lost during the trek to Payson in advance of Johnston's Army.

Methinks the death toll for the original English settlers was much higher - that cinches it. The Roanoke colony completely disappeared. They shouldn'a come in the first place. They should have left this land to the Spanish...but then this forum wouldn't exist... no  English, no Joseph Smith...and no BoM(in English anyway).

Edited by RevTestament
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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

........................

Only the fourth and fifth of the treks -- the famous and ill-fated Willey and Martin companies -- suffered tragedy and disaster, and this was due to an anomalous perfect storm of circumstances and conditions. The number who perished in those companies was 68 and about 145, respectively.

That leaves eight out of the 10 that did not suffer undue hardship. ..............................

At a recent Elders Quorum meeting, we saw a clip from "17 Miracles" dramatizing the actual discussion before leaving on that ill-fated trek.  The clip had Levi Savage objecting that it was too late in the season to be going (based on his real life objections).  The lesson was on sustaining leaders, even when we disagree with them.  We had a spirited discussion, which was good for all.  Sometimes sustaining a leader means speaking up, doing good staff work, and providing a leader with more than sycophancy.  We must be prepared to tell the emperor that he has no clothes.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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4 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

At a recent Elders Quorum meeting, we saw an LDS Church video dramatizing the actual discussion before leaving on that ill-fated trek.  The video had Levi Savage objecting that it was too late in the season to be going (based on his real life objections).  The lesson was on sustaining leaders, even when we disagree with them.  We had a spirited discussion, which was good for all.  Sometimes sustaining a leader means speaking up, doing good staff work, and providing a leader with more than sycophancy.  We must be prepared to tell the emperor that he has no clothes.

Was the video a clip from “17 Miracles”? If so, it was not a Church-produced movie. Good flick, though. 

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Was the video a clip from “17 Miracles”? If so, it was not a Church-produced movie. Good flick, though. 

You're right, Scott.  It's at about 30:45 of the film, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt2OUTU4Sqo ..  No wonder I couldn't locate the clip on lds.org . Thanks for setting me straight.

 

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15 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You're right, Scott.  It's at about 30:45 of the film, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt2OUTU4Sqo ..  No wonder I couldn't locate the clip on lds.org . Thanks for setting me straight.

 

I never saw the movie, but one TBM family member who saw it said "They should have called it '17 Bad Decisions'".

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I never saw the movie, but one TBM family member who saw it said "They should have called it '17 Bad Decisions'".

There will always be cynical antagonists, "TBM" or otherwise.

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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6 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Pardon. My bad. I should not have said I heard it once. Actually, I have heard it multiple times.

Here is documentation for you (I've actually posted it on this board before, but it was five years ago, so I suppose you can be forgiven for not knowing or not remembering). Here is a snippet:

 

I will always call out critics for piously and falsely stating or implying that the disaster of the Willie and Martin handcart companies characterizes the entirety of the handcart pioneer experience. It does not, as I have shown above, and not with "vague numbers."

 

Their motivations are pretty clear.

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10 hours ago, cinepro said:

I never saw the movie, but one TBM family member who saw it said "They should have called it '17 Bad Decisions'".

Certainly an object lesson on the fallibility of well-intentioned leaders.

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19 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Certainly an object lesson on the fallibility of well-intentioned leaders.

Not convinced of that. The idea that God’s inspiration always leads to the safest and easiest path is a common myth.

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4 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Not convinced of that. The idea that God’s inspiration always leads to the safest and easiest path is a common myth.

Scripture belies the notion.

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