Thursday, June 30, 2011

Another Version of Elizabeth's Story

After my father retired, my parents put together a genealogical book for each member of our family.  Elizabeth's story is included.  I am not sure who wrote all of it, though my parents did give some references.    Included in the book was a picture of Elizabeth when she was younger.  Unfortunately, I only have the xerox copied version, so it is not the best quality.  But I will include it here along with the history my parents had.  It gives an idea of the many challenges of the Willey Company. 


            Elizabeth Crook was born in Gloucester,  Deerhurst Parish October 7, 1827[1] and was baptized November 4, 1827.[2]  She was the daughter of Margaret Lane and William Crook, a pensioner at the time of her birth.  She and her parents were baptized into the LDS church on August 30, 1840 by Wilford Woodruff.[3]  She was rebaptized November 14, 1847 by Thomas Robins.  When she was about 17 (1845), she gave birth to a little girl and named her Sarah.¹  On October 22, 1848 she married Frederic Panting, a carpenter, in the Deerhurst Church and signed her mark (X) to the parish records.  Apparently, she could not write her name at that time, whether she later learned to write, I do not know.  To that union were born three children, Mary Ann, Christopher and Jane.  The marriage was not a successful one.  In 1852 on May 5 they buried Elizabeth’s oldest daughter Sarah Ann (age 6) and Mary Ann (age 3) followed on May 9.
            According to her son, W. W. Cranney:  “My mother was an English convert of Wilford Woodruff and had separated from her husband, who was a drunkard, who was a wicked vicious man who mistreated her and threatened to kill her.[4]  She was “given a blessing and a promise by Brother Woodruff that she would reach church headquarters in safety with her children.  She was leaving her husband under his threat that he would kill her if she did so.  With fear allayed by Apostle Woodruff’s blessing, she went from her home to Liverpool on the train.  Her husband, who was hunting for her, followed her into the car, where she was settling with her children, a boy 3 (he was actually 5 or 6) and a girl almost one year old.  However, he failed to recognize them and passed by them.”
            “She boarded a sailing vessel at Liverpool in the company of a large number of emigrants and passed through many trials on the long journey to Zion.”4
            In the month of May of 1856 with her two children (a boy 5 and a girl one year) she sailed for America with a company of Mormon emigrants.  They were on the ocean six weeks, then it took them ten days to go to Iowa City, arriving June 26.  There were in the two companies of saints that came from England 1,620 souls.  They had been instructed to prepare to cross the plains with handcarts, which were to be pulled by them.  They waited while men who were sent from Salt Lake City made upwards of 250 carts, dozens of tents, and purchased hundreds of cattle.  On the morning of July 15th, after several weeks had been spent in this preparation, Captain Willie’s Company, consisting of 500 persons, 120carts, 5 wagons, 24 oxen, and 45 beef cattle and cows left Iowa, and started on the 1300 mile journey little knowing what they had to endure.  The first 200 miles was a pleasure trip, for from the starting point to Council Bluffs was settled with kindly people.  Provisions, grass, milk, and honey could be obtained in abundance.  After mending carts and getting fresh supplies at Florence, Nebraska another start was made on August 17.
            On the morning of August 29 they were suddenly confronted with a band of Indians who were on the war path.  All during the summer companies of men, women and children had been killed, one can imagine what a startling thing this was to these emigrants from far away England to be so suddenly confronted by a band of savages on the war path, however; they proved to be friendly to the Mormon emigrants.
            The company moved on unmolested for a short distance when again they were more than startled by coming to the place where the Babett Company had been killed with one exception, a woman, whom they took captive after beating out the brains of her child.  These people had been killed for several days and their bodies left unburied.  After gathering up the remains of the murdered company and burying them, they moved on in silence, not knowing what their fate might be.
            Just before daylight September 4th the red skins stole all the company’s beef cattle.  This was a great calamity as provisions were getting short.  Then several days later they met the sole survivor of the Margets Company, who was on his way to England from Salt Lake.  After killing Thomas Margetts and his child and traveling companions, the Indians took his wife captive, another sad experience.
            At a point three miles west of Florence just at the break of day, they barely escaped being trampled to death by a stampeding herd of buffalo.  By this time traveling over rough country had made the carts become rickety, some of the axels being worn.  This caused great delay and trouble.  September 12, North Bluff Creek was reached 613 miles away from Iowa City.
            On the 12th day of September, Franklin D. Richards and his company of 12 returning missionaries from Europe came into camp.  They were very much depressed on finding the saints in such destitute conditions which was caused by the loss of their beef cattle.  All were put on the following ration of flour:  15 ounces for men, 13 for women, 9 for children and 5 for infants.  After learning of the serious conditions these poor saints were in and speaking words of encouragement, singing songs of Zion to them, they left determined to make Salt Lake as soon as possible to give the word to President Brigham Young.
            September 15 they met a large band of Arapahoe Indians, who told them of the Sioux attacking a large emigrant company some distance ahead of them.  Many were killed.  It is evident that the hand of the Lord was protecting them from the Indians.
            September 17th the first frost appeared and the following day a Sister Contwell was bitten by a rattle snake.  She recovered.  The same evening Sister Steward was lost and recovered just in time to save her from a pack of hungry wolves.
            On September 20 (some reports say it was Sept. 30) they reached Fort Laramie where the Richards Company secured what food they could for them and buffalo robes also.  The following day they met and camped with Parley P. Pratt and a company of missionaries going East.  That night the saints listened to a powerful sermon on the gathering by Brother Pratt.  The next morning they bid him farewell for the last time as he was killed shortly after this.
            October 12, Captain Willie again cut the rations to 10% of the flour to men, 9% to women and 6% to children and 3% to infants.  On the 14th another reduction was made and on the 19th the last ounce of flour was given to the starving saints.  The same evening the first snow came and by morning it was18 inches deep on the level.  They were at the three crossings of the Sweetwater.  The Company was already eating boiled rawhide and wild berries gathered from the bushes.  The following morning they came to the first of the three crossings of the Sweetwater all of which must be crossed that day before they could go farther.  The water was deep and the snow 18 inches deep on the banks with a piercing wind blowing from the north.  Without food, freezing, dying, sick, they stood on the Three Rivers not knowing that help was coming, yet into the rushing streams of ice they went, some of them being helped by such men as Andrew Smith, who labored all day long pulling the sick, the dying, and weak saints through these streams, carrying some on his back till every fiber of his body quivered.
             It was here in this hell bound region of Devil’s Bat Gulch and rocky region that the thundering tones of Millen Atwoods voice rang out from those snow clad hills.  “Hold on there Andrew boy, hold on there, my boy.   The Lord knows you have done enough.”  It would take volumes to give in detail the many things that transpired amongst the saints in this terrible ordeal.
            Referring again to the company of missionaries returning to Salt Lake from England with Apostle Franklin D. Richards at their head, traveling by team, they arrived in Salt Lake City October 4, after filling missions to Europe for three years.  They knew the seriousness of the condition of the Saints on the plains, especially the Willie Company without sufficient food to take them to their journey’s end.  A report was made at once to President Young.
            As conference commenced at 10:00 o’clock Monday morning, President Young said, “There are a number of our people on the plains, who have started to come to Zion with hand carts and they need our help.  We want 20 ox teams to go to their relief.  It will be necessary to send two men with each team or wagon.  I will furnish three teams loaded with provisions and send good men with them.  Brother Heber C. Kimball will do the same.  If there are any brethren present who have suitable outfits for such a journey they will please make it known at once, so we’ll know what to depend upon.”  Conference was adjourned until the next morning so as to give all an opportunity to help prepare for this journey.  Such a spirit of brotherly love perhaps was never witnessed before.  It seemed that every man, woman, and child was alive to the situation.
            While the men were gathering up supplies the women were equally busy preparing bedding, mending underwear, fixing stockings, even taking clothing from their own backs to send to the freezing, starving and dying saints on the plains of Wyoming
            That evening the 27  young men assembled with the authorities of the church for final instructions after which they were each given blessings that were wonderful.  They then returned home for a good night’s rest.  At 9 o’clock the next morning 16 wagons loaded with supplies with two mule teams to each wagon started for the rescue work.  They traveled as far as possible each day not stopping for dinner for they knew the stormy weather was at hand.
            Fort Bridger was reached on the 12th, three days later they arrived at Green River and still no word, they had expected to meet the Willie Company at Fort Bridger.  The other companies were behind them.  Fully realizing the conditions of 1500 emigrants without food or shelter and only 6 wagons with supplies for them, they were very anxious to cross the divide between Green River and Wind River before winter set in on them.  After traveling 25 or 40 miles further winter set in on them in dead earnest.  It snowed three days and nights with a howling wind from the north.  The snow was so deep it was impossible for the strongest teams to pull their loads up hill.
            On the night of October 20, they pulled down into a small hollow for shelter.  Just as they were located for the night, Captain Willie and Joe B. Elder came into the camp with the terrible news of the saints freezing, starving and dying east of the ridge.  The boys soon hooked up the teams and were on the way again traveling as far as possible that night, and at day break they were on their way again, traveling till they reached the Willie Company.  That evening, before they had time to get out of their wagons they saw enough to bring tears to the eyes of everyone.  The company now numbering less than 500 had been caught in a place where there was no wood nor shelter from the terrible storm that had been raging. They had been without food for two days and nights and were freezing and starving to death.  Camp wood was soon drawn from the near by hills with the mules.  Fires were built, food prepared and everyone made as comfortable as possible but it was too late for some.  Women wept for joy, men were melted to tears.  Such a greeting was never witnessed before.
            The following morning George D. Grant took 9 teams and 17 men with most of the provisions to meet the Martin, Hadget and Hunt Company, who were further back.  William H. Kimball with the rest of the relief company started for Salt Lake City.  It was late in the day before they could make the start as so many were weak, others dying.  While crossing Rocky Ridge that day many had their feet, hands, and faces frozen.  A terrible blizzard blew all day making it the most disastrous day in the whole journey.  15 persons died that day. 
            October 24, they reached South Pass where at the Allred Camp they had plenty of wood and flour.  The following day they met five teams from the valley.  These teams continued on to meet the other companies in the rear.
            It was on that terrible day crossing Rocky Ridge that my Grandmother Cranney put her two children in a wagon with some sick men as all who were able to still walk did so.  At night when she reached the wagon where her children had been placed in the morning, she found them alive snuggled down between the dead bodies of the sick men they had been placed with that morning, they having died during the day.
            November 2, they reached Fort Bridger where 50 teams met them making it possible for all to ride from there to Salt Lake City.  Seven days later on November 9th they arrived in Salt Lake and in less than one hour after pulling up in front of the tithing office every one of them were tenderly cared for by the waiting saints.
            This scene could hardly be described as tears of joy came to all.  Grandmother with her two babies, Chris five years old and Jane, one year, were tenderly cared for and seemed especially cared for during the entire journey.  This was according to a promise made by President Woodruff, that she and her two babies would arrive safely in Zion.  He gave her this promise before she left England.  My Grandmother married after coming to Logan and reared another family of nine children.
            Among those who sailed from England at the same time were William Wilkes and his wife, Elizabeth Haines, who were also members of her branch in England.  It was this same William Wilkes whom she later married in the Endowment House on September 22, 1859.   She and Elizabeth Haines were sealed to him on the same day.
            “This made her a second wife in polygamy.  Her husband soon became careless and finally went off to California seeking gold against the advice of the church.  This created cause for a church divorce.  In 1862 when my father Dr. H. K. Cranney came to Utah, President Young sent him up to Logan to be the first doctor in that settlement.  Apostle Ezra T. Benson married him to my mother.  She was now separated from Wilkes with two more boys, having four children, three boys and a fine girl, who were known as Chris Panting, Jane Panting, Charles Wilkes, and William Wilkes.  She then in the course on a few years had five sons and two daughters to my father”  “When she was past 50 years of age her last little girl, Clara, was born, who died in infancy.”[4]
            She and H. K. were sealed in the Endowment House on December 26, 1864.  Not too long afterward (in 1868) her husband took a second wife, Elizabeth White.  This plural marriage was one of the successful ones.  W. W. Cranney reports:  “My father’s second wife was almost as dear to me as my own mother and helped teach me to love and respect the church leaders.  Elizabeth Crook’s children called Elizabeth White “Aunt” and Elizabeth White’s children called Elizabeth Crook “Aunt.”[4]

[1] Deerhurst Parish Register
[2] Deerhurst Parish Register
[3] Glouchester Branch Records
[4] Wilford Woodruff Cranney’s life history written by himself

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