For Family members who are interested in Elizabeth's stories--stories because there are so many varying version of it out there--I include a copy of Elizabeth 's story given to me by Frank Johnson, one of my extended family members, whom I have had the great pleasure of meeting this year. Thank you, Frank, for your generous offer to let me post your version of the story! To the rest of you, Frank wrote this years ago. Since then, he has reason to question the home "by the yew tree" that he thought belonged to the Crooks. It is currently believed that the picture in his history is not the William Crook home in Apperley. If anyone knows where their home was located or has a picture of it (if it is still standing) or of the property, I would love to have it and would be glad to post it for all family descendants.
The file I have from Frank is a PDF and I was unable to copy the pictures today for some reason. If you are interested in seeing all of Frank's book, please go to byu.edu and check out their digital books online (in particular, genealogy and family related ones). If I ever figure out how to include the pictures I will post them. Thank you for your patience with my digital shortcomings!
Deerhurst has an ancient Saxon church constructed before William the Conqueror invaded in 1066. It is also the church that anyone from Apperley would use for baptisms, weddings and funerals, so the Crook family must have been associated with it for many years. Upon approaching the small village I could see the church, named "Odda's Chapel", a white silhouette against the blue hills which continue on to the Northwest into Wales. On the left was a small country lane, much too narrow for two cars, which led to Apperley,. Both sides of these lanes were covered with berry bushes. Unfortunately for me, they were not ripe, even in the middle of August. I drove first to Deerhurst to visit the chapel.
The church was surrounded by a graveyard as most of the old chapels were. I browsed through it reading the headstones, as these had no ivy and could be read, although some were too old and the writing had been obliterated. I did find one headstone for a Henry Crook who died in 1878. When I returned home I searched our genealogy records and could not find this name on any of our genealogy sheets, but I think we can assume he was related, possibly a cousin to Elizabeth Crook. I felt strange walking through a cemetery where there is a good chance that we have ancestors buried. If only we had a chance to know their history. Their lives are lost to us, which should provide the incentive for us to preserve our history before it is all lost. I have grandchildren approaching marriage age. Their children will be 6 generations from Elizabeth.
After spending some time in the church I returned to my rental car and drove down the lane to the south to Apperley, about one mile distant. As stated before, the lane was very narrow and probably was a dirt path for carriages and carts for centuries. A mother and her two daughters were walking on the road and I stopped and asked them if they knew of any families there with the name of Crook or Lane. The woman, with a broad country accent, said she knew of none. The girls spoke with a normal British accent and were quite curious about this American so far from the normal tourist sites. I thanked them and drove on into the village. There were many new homes in among the older ones.
As I entered the town, an elderly gentleman stood in front of an ancient home, and I stopped and got out of the car to speak with him. I told the him that my great grandmother was from this village. He asked me her name and I said that it was Elizabeth Crook and her mother's name was Lane. He said that it had been a hundred or more years since anyone with the name of Crook had lived there, but his grandfather had told him of that family and he knew where they had lived. He said to drive on down the lane for several hundred meters and there was an old white home with a yew tree in front and that was the home his grandfather had mentioned to him. I drove on and found the house. Unfortunately, no one was at home. As I stood there on the road taking a few pictures, the old gentleman with whom I had spoken, drove up in his car and said that the more he thought of it the more he was certain that this was the home of the Crook family. I thanked him and he drove on. When one considers the history of that town with many families joining the Church and leaving in the middle 1800's for Utah, it is very possible that the memory is correct. His grandfather was very probably alive when the Crook family children left for America, if not him, then most certainly his grandfather's father. When nearly a large group of children from one family join another church and leave the country, people remember, so I am satisfied that this had a distinct possibility of being their home. What a marvelous experience this was. Later I was almost as excited over being able to give photographs of this journey to my surviving uncle and aunts, as I was at being there, since I knew how much they would be interested in them.
On the 4'1' of March Apostle Woodruff arrived at Mr. Johns Benbow's farm of 300 acres. Mr. Benbow informed him that there was a company - over 600 in number - who had broken off from the Wesleyan Methodists who were searching for light and truth and were seeking the true way to be saved. Several days later, after preaching and baptizing several families, Apostle Woodruff spent a day clearing out a pool of water and preparing it for baptism. In this pond he later baptized over 600 people.
Margaret Lane Crook was baptized by Apostle Woodruff on the 20th of March. In August, her 12 year old daughter, Elizabeth Crook was also baptized by Apostle Woodruff. Later Elizabeth, as a young woman, married a local man named Frederick Panting and had four children. Twins died at birth. When one looks at the church records for that area, there is a break in missionary and church activity for part of a decade during the time frame of the exodus from Nauvoo and the first years of settling in Utah. It was in this period that Elizabeth married Frederick Panting in the English Church in Deerhurst. In the early 1850's missionaries returned and activity in the LDS Church was again available. Her son, Wilford Woodruff Cranney, wrote in his life history that her husband was a drunkard and mistreated her. This story was verified when a genealogist found that a census listed his occupation as "town drunk". To get away from this unfavorable situation, Elizabeth decided in 1856 to join a company on its way to Utah - which turned into a remarkable journey for her and her children, Chris age 5 and Jane age 6 months. Her marriage license shows an "X" for her signature, so there was no eye-witness account written by her. Instead, as with Alex Haley's story
of "Roots ", we have an oral tradition handed down and written by her children and grandchildren. There are very complete histories written of this journey by others but all we have from her are four quite small vignettes preserved by her relating the story to her children. They are equivalent to books in their intensity of feeling.
The first vignette happens as she left her home late April or early May 1856 and traveled by train to Liverpool to take passage on the ship Thornton. As she is sat in the coach with her two children, her husband went through the train trying to locate her and take her by force back to their home. Wilford Woodruff Cranney wrote that he had promised to kill her if she left him. Oral traditions tell of Elizabeth giving the two children to other ladies and trading bonnets with another. When he came to her seat, he lifted her bonnet and stared directly into her face and did not recognize her.
The Ship Thornton sailed to New York on May 3 with the Saints under the leadership of James Willie. Also on board was Elizabeth's brother, Samuel Lane Crook. Samuel was married during the journey on the ship. He did not proceed to Utah directly, but stayed in the East for two years before traveling to Utah with his wife. Upon arrival in the United States the travelers entrained for Iowa City, Nebraska, the end of the railway line to the West. At Iowa City, church agents had already outfitted three large handcart companies that year and were not prepared for groups so late in the year. They arrived at Iowa City on the 26th of June. They had to make their own handcarts and tents so they did not depart until the 15th of July. By August 11th they had traveled 277 miles to Florence, Nebraska, where they were required to spend a week repairing handcarts due to the green wood that was used in their construction. At a meeting the saints were advised by Levi Savage, one of the company leaders, "that they could not cross the mountains with a mixed company of aged people, women, and little children, so late in the season without suffering, sickness, and death." Others wanted to rely on the Lord and proceed. The vote was taken to proceed. Brother
Savage then added: "Brethren and sisters, what I have said I know to be true; but seeing you are to go forward, I will go with you, will help you all I can, will work with you, will rest with you, will suffer with you, and, if necessary, I will die with you. May God in his mercy bless and preserve us. "
John Chislett wrote a narrative of the journey, portions of which are quoted here in order to give an extensive account of Elizabeth's journey. "We started from Florence about the 18th of August and traveled in the same way as through Iowa, except our carts were more heavily laden, as our teams could not haul sufficient flour to last us to Utah; it was therefore decided to put one sack (ninety-eight pounds) on each cart in addition to the regular baggage. Some of the people grumbled at this, the majority bore it without a murmur. Our flour ration was increased to a pound per day; fresh beef was issued occasionally, and each
'hundred' had three or four milch cows. The flour on the carts was used first, the weakest parties being the first relieved of their burdens. "Everything seemed propitious, and we moved gaily forward full of hope and faith. At our camp each evening could be heard songs of joy, merry peals of laughter, and bon mots on our condition and prospects. Brother Savage's warning was forgotten in the mirthful ease of the hour. The only drawbacks to this part of the journey were the constant breaking down of the carts and the delays caused repairing them. "In about twenty days, however, the flour being consumed, breakdowns became less frequent, and we jogged along finely."
It was somewhere in this area that our family has its second vignette. On the plains Jane, now 9 months old, took sick. She was very low and near death. Elizabeth could not stop to care for her infant daughter so she placed her in the cart with Chris, who usually walked, to watch over her. Expecting her to die at any time, Elizabeth, several times throughout the day, while pulling the handcart turned to her son Chris and asked: "Is Jane dead yet, Chris? " Well Jane didn't die. She later married a man named Bell and among her many descendants was a man named T. H. Bell, who became Secretary of Education, and as such, a member of President Reagan's Cabinet.
Chislett's narrative continues: "We traveled from ten to twenty miles per day, averaging fifteen miles. The people felt well, so did our cattle, and our immediate prospects of a prosperous journey were good. But the fates seemed to be against us. "About this time we reached Wood River (a few miles above Grand Island, Nebraska). The whole country was alive with buffaloes, and one night - or, rather, evening - our cattle stampeded. Men went in pursuit and collected what they supposed to be the herd; but, on corralling them for yoking next morning, thirty head were missing. We hunted for them three days in every direction, but did not find them. We at last reluctantly gave up the search, and prepared to travel without them as best we could. We had only about enough oxen left to put one yoke to each wagon; but as they were each loaded with about three thousand pounds of flour, the teams could not of course move them. We then yoked up our beef cattle, milch cows, and, in fact, everything that could bear a yoke - even two-year-old heifers. The stock was wild and could pull but little, and we were unable, with all our stock, to move our loads. As a last resort, we again loaded a sack of flour on each cart. It was really hard for the folks to lose the use of their milch cows, have beef rations stopped, and haul one hundred pounds more on their carts. Every man and woman, however, worked to their utmost to put forward towards the goal of their hopes."
President Richards and a company of returning missionaries who were traveling in light wagons and carriages pulled by mules and horses overtook the Willie Company and camped with them one night. They promised the Saints that they would proceed with all possible speed to Salt Lake City and have supplies sent back to them.
Chislett continues: "We reached [Fort] Laramie about the 1st or 2nd of September, but the provisions, etc., which we expected, were not there for us. Captain Willie called a meeting to take into consideration our circumstances, conditions, and prospects, and to see what could be done. It was ascertained that at our present rate of travel and consumption of flour the latter would be exhausted when we were about three hundred and fifty miles from our destination. It was resolved to reduce our allowance from one pound to three-quarters of a pound per day, and at the same time to make every effort in our power to travel faster. We continued this rate of rations from Laramie to Independence Rock.
"About this time Captain Willie received a letter from Apostle Richards informing him that we might expect supplies to meet us from the valley by the time we reached South Pass. An examination of our stock of flour showed us that it would be gone before we reached that point. Our only alternative was to still further reduce our bill of fare. The issue of flour was then to average ten ounces per day."
The meeting was adjourned and the next day 22 teams set out to rescue the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies. More teams followed and by October 31 there were 250 teams on the road.
"Our seventeen pounds of clothing and bedding was now altogether insufficient for our comfort. Nearly all suffered more or less at night from cold. Instead of getting up in the morning strong, refreshed, vigorous, and prepared for the hardships of another day of toil, the poor Saints were to be seen crawling out from their tents haggard, benumbed, and showing an utter lack of that vitality so necessary to our success. "Cold weather, scarcity of food, lassitude and fatigue from over-exertion, soon produced their effects. Our old and infirm people began to droop, and they no sooner lost spirit and courage than death's stamp could be traced upon their features. Life went out as smoothly as a lamp ceases to bum when the oil is gone. At first the deaths occurred slowly and irregularly, but in a few days at more frequent intervals, until we soon thought it unusual to leave a campground without burying one or more persons.
"Death was not long confined in its ravages to the old and infirm, but the young and naturally strong were among its victims ... Many a father pulled his cart, with his little children on it, until the day preceding his death. I have seen some pull their carts in the morning, give out during the day, and die before next morning ... each death weakened our forces. In my hundred I could not raise enough men to pitch a tent when we camped, and now it was that I had to exert myself to the utmost. I wonder I did not die, as many did who were stronger than I was. When we pitched our camp in the evening of each day, I had to lift the sick from the wagon and carry them to the fire, and in the morning carry them again on my back to the wagon. When any in my hundred died I had to inter them; often helping to dig the grave myself. In performing these sad offices I always offered up a heartfelt prayer to that God who beheld our sufferings, and begged him to avert destruction from us and send us help."
"I attended the October Conference which opened on the 6th as usual, having walked from Provo to Salt Lake City. On that day President Brigham Young at the opening of the first Session made a call upon the people to furnish teams, provisions and clothing to aid the late handcart companies in as the winter season was fast hastening on, snow having already fallen upon the mountains. The response to the call of President Young was most remarkable. On the following day October 7th, 22 teams - two span of mules, or horses to each wagon and each wagon loaded to the bows. There were about fifty young men in the company. Being in Salt Lake City and of an ambitious turn of mind, I volunteers to go. One thing which attracted me, in addition of the interest in the handcart people, was my brother Moses. He was on the plains returning from a mission to England.
"Of the most prominent men of the company who went out in that memorable expedition of relief I mention Geo. D. Grant; Robert T. Burton; Joseph A. Young; William H. Kimball; Daniel W. Jones; John R. Murdock; Eph H. Hanks; Isaac Bullock and Brigham Young, Jr."
were overtaken by a snowstorm which the shrill wind blew furiously about us. The snow fell several inches deep as we travelled along, but we dared not stop, for we had a sixteen mile journey to make, (this is the first day's journey after leaving Three Crossings - FCJ) and short of it we could not get wood and water.
"As we were resting for a short time at noon a light wagon was driven into our camp from the west. Its occupants were Joseph A. Young and Stephen Taylor. "They informed us that a train of supplies was on the way, and we might expect to meet it in a day or two. More welcome messengers never came from the courts of glory than these two young men were to us. They lost no time after encouraging us all they could do to press forward, but sped on further east to convey their glad news to Edward Martin and the fifth handcart company who left Florence about two weeks after us, and who it was feared were even worse off than we were. As they went from our view, many a hearty 'God bless you! followed them.
"We pursued our journey with renewed hope and after untold toil and fatigue, doubling teams frequently, going back to fetch up the straggling carts, and encouraging those who had dropped by the way to a little more exertion in view of our soon-to-be improved condition, we finally, late at night, got all to camp - the wind howling frightfully and the snow eddying around us in fitful gusts. But we had found a good camp among the willows and after warming and partially drying ourselves before good fires, we ate our scanty fare, paid our usual devotions to the Deity and retired to rest with hopes of coming aid.
"In the morning the snow was over a foot deep. Our cattle strayed widely during the storm, and some of them died. But what was worse to us than all this was the fact that five persons of both sexes lay in the cold embrace of death.
"The morning before the storm, or, rather, the morning of the day on which it came, we issued the last ration of flour. On this fatal morning, therefore, we had none to issue. We had, however, a barrel or two of hard bread which Captain Willie had procured at Fort Laramie in view of our destitution. This was equally and fairly divided among all the company.
"Two of our poor broken-down cattle were killed and their carcasses issued for beef. With this we were informed that we would have to subsist until the coming supplies reached us. All that now remained in our commissary were a few pounds each of sugar and dried apples, about a quarter of a sack of rice and a small quantity (possibly 20 or 25 lbs.) of hard bread.
"Being surrounded by snow a foot deep, out of provisions, many of our people sick, and our cattle dying, it was decided that we should remain in our present position until the train reached us. It was also resolved in council that Captain Willie with one man should go in search of the supply train and apprise the leader of our condition, and hasten him to our help. When this was done we settled down and made our camp as comfortable as we could. As Captain Willie and his companion left for the West, many a heart was lifted in prayer for their success and speedy return. They were absent three days - three days which I shall never forget. The scanty allowance of hard bread and poor beef, distributed as described, was mostly eaten the first day by the hungry, ravenous, famished souls.
"We killed more cattle and issued the meat; but, eating it without bread, did not satisfy hunger, and to those who were suffering from dysentery it did more harm than good. This terrible disease increased rapidly amongst us during these three days, and several died from exhaustion... The recollection of it unmans me even now - those three days! During that time I visited the sick, the widows whose husbands died in serving them, and the aged who could not help themselves, to know for myself where to dispense the few articles that had been placed in my charge for distribution. Such craving hunger I never saw before, and may God in his mercy spare me the sight again..."
"Preparations were made and early in the morning of the following day we were on the road pushing our way for Captain Willies camp. The depth of snow made travelling extremely difficult and the whole day was spent before we reached camp. It was about sun set when we came in sight of the camp; which greatly resembled an Esquimeax Village fully one mile away. The snow being a foot deep and paths having been made from tent to tent gave the camp that appearance.
"As we reached an eminence overlooking the camp, which was located on a sagebrush plain near the river a mile away when the people of the camp sighted us approaching, they set up such a shout as to echo through the hills. Arriving within the confines of this emigrant camp a most thrilling and touching scene was enacted, melting to tears the stoutest hearts. Young maidens and feeble old ladies, threw off all restraint and freely embraced their deliverers expressing in a flow of kisses, the gratitude which their tongues failed to utter. This was certainly the most timely arrival of a relief party recorded in history for the salvation of a people. Five hundred people with handcarts a scanty supply of clothing, bedding and less supply of provision, upon the plains in snow ten inches deep."
rejoicing, and as the brethren entered our camp the sisters fell upon them and deluged them with kisses.
"The Salt Lake boys, mounted on harnessed mules and with axes in hand, were soon dragging wood from the hills. Fires warmed the camp and cooked food allayed starvation. But help had come too late to save all. Nine died that first night."
Chislett continues:" I was installed as regular commissary to the camp. The brethren turned over to me flour, potatoes, onions, and a limited supply of warm clothing for both sexes, besides quilts, blankets, buffalo robes, woolen socks, etc. I first distributed the necessary provisions, and after supper divided the clothing, bedding, etc. where it was most needed. That evening, for the first time in quite a period, the songs of Zion were to be heard in the camp, and peals of laughter issued from the little knots of people as they chatted around the fires. The change seemed almost miraculous, so sudden was it from grave to gay, from sorrow to gladness, from mourning to rejoicing. With the cravings of hunger satisfied, and with hearts filled with gratitude to God and our good brethren, we all united in prayer, and then retired to rest.
"Among the brethren who came to our succor were elders W. H. Kimball and G. D. Grant. They had remained but a few days in the Valley before starting back to meet us. May God ever bless them for their generous, unselfish kindness and their manly fortitude. They felt that they had, in a great measure, contributed to our sad position; but how nobly, how faithfully, how bravely they worked to bring us safely to the Valley to the Zion of our hopes!
"Kimball and about half of the rescue party stayed with the Willie Company to help it move westward; while Grant, with the other half of the Salt Lake wagons, pushed on to find Martin's Company and the two rear wagon trains.
"The Company, with the aid of the rescue wagons and provisions, continued its westward trek. We traveled but a few miles the first day, reports John Chislett, the roads being very heavy. All who were unable to pull their carts were allowed to put their little outfits into the wagons and walk along, and those who were really unable to walk were allowed to ride. The second day we traveled a little farther, and each day Brother Kimball got the company along as far as possible to move it, but still our progress was very slow.
"Timely and good beyond estimate as the help which we received from the Valley was to our company generally, it was too late for some of our number. They were already prostrated and beyond all human help. Some seemed to have lost mental as well as physical energy. We talked to them of our improved condition, appealed to their love of life and showed them how easy it was to retain that life by arousing themselves; but all to no purpose. We then addressed ourselves to their religious feelings, their wish to see Zion; to know the Prophet Brigham; showed them the good things that he had sent out to us, and told them how deeply he sympathized with us in our sufferings, and what a welcome he would give us when we reached the city. But all our efforts were unavailing; they had lost all love of life, all sense of surrounding things, and had sunk down into a state of indescribable apathy.
"The weather grew colder each day, and many got their feet so badly frozen that they could not walk, and had to be lifted from place to place. Some got their fingers frozen; others their ears; and one woman lost her sight by the frost. These severities of the weather also increased our number of deaths, so that we buried several each day.
"A few days of bright freezing weather were succeeded by another snow storm. The day we crossed the Rocky Ridge it was snowing little - the wind hard from the north-west - and blowing so keenly that it almost pierced us through. We had to wrap ourselves in blankets, quilts, or whatever else we could get, to keep from freezing."
It is here that we have our fourth and last vignette from Elizabeth. That day the children were sick and she placed them in the sick wagon as the company struggled against the wintry blast up Rocky Ridge. She later told her children that the warmth of the sick and dying bodies in that wagon kept them from freezing to death on that day. I have traveled several times to Rocky Ridge. The Sweetwater again runs through a narrow, impassable canyon, forcing the trail to the north over this famous ridge and onto a high plain. I have driven a jeep up Rocky Ridge. It is well named. Near the summit, parallel layers of rock several feet high project out of the ground at a 45 degree angle.
The passage of countless wagon wheels across the rocks has worn deep ruts into the formation. A jeeps' wheels match these tracks but it nearly high centers on the parallel ridges between the ruts as one nears the top. A four wheel drive is necessary, using low range and low gear, to drive up this trail. I cannot imagine pulling a handcart up this ridge in the summer time, let alone in the face of a howling blizzard. The Church has done much in the past few years to preserve this area and I would recommend to any family member that a trip to Rocky Ridge and the other sites where the handcart pioneers suffered would be a wonderful and humbling experience.
Captain Willie wrote a brief synopsis of the trip and did not go into much detail concerning the hardships. The one day he describes in any detail is the day they crossed Rocky Ridge.
"In crossing the Rocky Ridge we had to encounter a heavy snow storm accompanied by a strong north wind. It was the most disastrous day of the whole trip, 15 dying from fatigue and exposure to the cold.... Notwithstanding the disadvantages of our position in crossing the Rocky Ridge, we traveled 16 miles on that day with our handcarts."
Continuing with Chislett's narrative: "Captain Willie still attended to the details of the company's travelling, and this day he appointed me to bring up the rear. My duty was to stay behind everything and see that nobody was left along the road.
"After some time I came in sight of the camp fires, which encouraged me. As I neared camp I frequently overtook stragglers on foot, all pressing forward slowly. I stopped to speak to each one, cautioning them all against resting, as they would surely freeze to death. Finally, about 11 p.m. I reached the camp almost exhausted. I had exerted myself very much during the day in bringing the rear carts up the ridge, and had not eaten anything since breakfast. I reported to Captain Willie and Kimball the situation of the folks behind. They immediately got up some horses, and the boys from the Valley started back about midnight to help the ox teams in. The night was very severe and many of the emigrants were frozen. It was 5 a.m. before the last team reached camp.
"There were so many dead and dying that it was decided to lie by for the day. In the afternoon I was appointed to go around the camp and collect the dead. I took with me two young men to assist me in the sad task, and we collected together, of all ages and both sexes thirteen corpses, all stiffly frozen. We had a large square hole dug in which we buried these thirteen people, three or four abreast and three deep ... Two others died during the day, making fifteen in all buried on that camp ground.
"The day of rest on Willow Creek did the company good, and we started out next morning with new life. During the day we crossed the Sweetwater on the ice, which did not break, although our wagons were laden with sick people. The effects of our lack of food, and the terrible ordeal of the Rocky Ridge, still remained among us. Two or three died every day.
"Near South Pass we found more brethren from the Valley, with several quarters of good fat beef hanging frozen on the limbs of the trees where they were encamped. These quarters of beef were to us the handsomest pictures we ever saw. The statues of Michael Angelo, or the paintings of the ancient masters, would have been to us nothing in comparison to these life giving pictures.
"After getting over the Pass we soon experienced the influence of a warmer climate and for a few days we made good progress. We constantly met teams from the Valley, with all necessary provisions. Most of these went on to Martin's company, but enough remained with us for our actual wants. At Fort Bridger [on November 2nd we found a great many teams that had come to our help. The noble fellows who came to our assistance invariably received us joyfully, and did all in their power to alleviate our suffering. May they never need similar relief.
"From Bridger all our company rode, and this day I also rode for the first time on our journey. The entire distance from Iowa City to Fort Bridger I walked and waded every stream from the Missouri to that point, except Elkhorn, which we ferried, and Green River, which I crossed in a wagon. During the journey from Bridger to Salt Lake a few died of dysentery, and some from the effects of the frost the day we crossed the fatal Rocky Ridge. But those who weathered that fatal day and night, and were free from disease, gradually regained strength and reached Salt Lake City in good health and spirits.
"When we left Iowa City we numbered about five hundred persons. Some few deserted us while passing through Iowa, and some remained at Florence. When we left the latter place we numbered four hundred and twenty, about twenty of whom were independent emigrants with their own wagons, so that our handcart company was actually four hundred of this number. Sixty-seven died on the journey, making a mortality of one-sixth of our number. Of those who were sick on our arrival, two or three soon died. President Young had arranged with the bishops of the different wards and settlements to take care of the poor emigrants who had no friends to receive them, and their kindness in this respect cannot be too highly praised. It was enough that a poor family had come with the handcarts to insure help during the winter from the good brethren in the different settlements."
The company arrived in Salt Lake City on November 9, 1856.
Elizabeth Crook Panting soon married William Wilkes as a plural wife. Since William Wilkes' name is listed along with Elizabeth on the Apperley Branch records, I assume she had known him in Apperley. She had two children by him but by the time the second one was born, they had separated. We know that he left for California to try his luck in the gold fields. We don't know whether Elizabeth was invited or not. Family tradition says he left her. She moved first to Brigham City, then on to Cache Valley. There she met her future husband, Hyrum Kinsley Cranney. I have heard that she met him while using his services as a judge to keep Mr. Wilkes away from her. With Hyrum Kinsley she had seven additional children. Her son, Wilford Woodruff Cranney, wrote a history and has this to say of his mother:
"In 1856 my mother who was a widow (she left her husband in England - FCJ) with two children, a boy and a girl, at the time of my father's marriage to her was converted to the church in England by Wilford Woodruff and was given a blessing and promise by brother Woodruff that she would reach the 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 sitting with her children, a boy of 3 years and a girl almost I year old. However, he failed to recognize them and passed by them. He was a confirmed drunkard and mistreated her continuously."
Dick Cranney told me that one of his cousins had been in England on a mission and investigated the "train incident". He told Dick that it could not have happened as there were no trains in 1856 in the vicinity of Apperly. I was somewhat distressed when hearing this as the story has been repeated to me by many members of the Cranney family and others, such as descendants of Jane Panting Bell. So I did some research. I even sent for a book on English Railway History which gave me the following information:
"In 1856 there was between 7 and 8,000 miles of track in England." That is not much less than the 9,300 miles in existence today. In 1840 a charter was granted for a railway in Gloucester, which is the nearest major city to Apperely, about 20 kilometers away. Any railway out of Gloucester would most likely parallel the River Severn on its way east. This river is immediately adjacent Apperley. It would appear that the lack of a railway would not be factor in the truth of the history.
"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. However, during the seventeen years that I lived under her influence before she died, I didn't hear her complain that she pulled a handcart from Council Bluffs to Salt Lake City in what was known as Captain Willie's camp. In 1856 she reached Salt Lake City with her little boy and girl tucked safely in the handcart even though many of their company had died on the way (fifteen men died in one night). This was a great testimony to her from which she never wavered." (emphasis by FCJ)
"On the 14th I was going to see her and met her son, who said: "Sister Maughan, mother is awful sick. I am going for medicine." I found that at 4:00 o'clock in the morning she had been struck with paralysis, that took away the use of her right side and her voice. After some hours her voice returned so that we could understand her, but the use of her side did not return to her again. She did not seem to suffer so much pain, would answer: "I am better, or I am well." Her daughter, Jane Bell of Weston came next day and I stayed with them. Doctor Parkinson was summoned but he gave no hopes of her recovery.
"Her children were as kind and loving as possible, one or two of the boys always sitting up with her. We watched her faithfully day and night and everything was done for her comfort. She ate a little the first two weeks, but afterwards she could swallow only a little beef tea, or chicken soup. On the Monday of this week, I was watching her while she slept, when suddenly she opened her eyes and looked at me. I saw a shudder pass over her left side. I feared she had another stroke at that time, and it was difficult for her to swallow anything afterwards. We could not help seeing that she was gradually wasting away, altho we were doing all in our power to keep her with us. She was conscious most of the time, and wanted Sister Maughan and her daughter to take care of her. When her sons would come to wish her good night, she would look so loving at them and motion that she knew them.
"During the last week we were glad to have Sister Earl stay with us nearly all the time, as I was getting nearly tired out. But my dear friend would not let me leave. She could not speak but would hold my hand and look at me, her eyes saying: "You will not leave me now?" And I could not and staid with her until she quietly breathed her last on Sunday at half past 2 o'clock, her seven sons, all young men, two daughters, Sister Earl and myself around her bed. Not a sound was heard until her spirit passed away on the 15th of Mar. 1891.
"Sister Cranney was the only girl companion I had in this Valley, and I feel that I am left alone. She was 10 years younger than me, and looked up to me as her older sister. I came home in the evening to rest, had been home only two nights during her sickness. Dr. Cranney is sick in Star Valley, the road blocked with snow so he cannot come if well. I have lost a dear friend, but she is going to rest, and I would not recall her if I could.
"The funeral took place in the Tabernacle, March 17, 1891, and a large company of friends met to pay their respects to one of the early pioneers of Cache Valley, who has lived true and faithful and gained the praise for which she lived."
The above account appears in "Our Pioneer Heritage" 1959 Edition, Vol 2, compiled by Kate B. Carter, entitled "Journal of Ann Weston Maughan."
Elizabeth's brother, Samuel Lane Crook, has already been mentioned. He traveled on the Ship Thornton to America with Elizabeth and married while on the ocean. By staying in New Jersey for several years, he and his wife missed the tragedy of the handcart company. He later moved to Bear Lake and still later, Star Valley. There were first cousins of Frank Cranney in Star Valley throughout his life but there never was much, if any, communication between the families. In the past few years we have shared family histories and photographs with descendants of Samuel Lane Crook. The children of Ted and Ruth Cranney have a special legacy from the Crook family. Ruth is a descendant of Samuel Lane and Ted is a descendant of his sister, Elizabeth. Gary Crook of Star Valley has informed me that one of his descendants is married to a Cranney so there is another connection between the families.
Elizabeth's older sister, Mary Crook, also came to Utah. The following information is from
the life history of her husband, Robert Knell.
"I married Mary Crook, daughter of William and Margaret Crook, born at Plymouth, England, 23 July 1822. We were married by Samuel Henderson, Jr., 23 February 1855, in Kaysville, Davis County. Mary Crook was married in England to Elias Eagles and came to Nauvoo in 1845 and moved to Burlington, Iowa. Mary had four children, Mary Ann, born in Nauvoo, 5 November 1845; Elizabeth, born in Burlington, Iowa Sept. 22, 1847. Mary with her two children left Burlington in the spring of 1852 and arrived in Salt Lake City in September. She left two children buried in Burlington; Joseph, born 1 June 1849, died the same day. Josephine born 24 November 1850, died September 1, 1851."
I have heard from this family that Mr. Eagles disappeared in the early part of the journey to Utah, leaving Mary to continue with the journey alone with two young children. Does it not sound familiar? After arriving in Salt Lake she lived in the city supporting herself and her children by sewing. Her first husband never came to Utah, and we have never heard what became of him. The Knells were involved with moving south during the Utah War and eventually moved to Pinto in Southern Utah. Robert Knell became Bishop of the Pinto Ward. Robert had a brother who also settled there and the Knell name is common throughout the area.
Robert Knell tells of his wife's final illness. "My wife was afflicted with rheumatism in the spring 1889, and in 1890 she had to use crutches. In 1891 she fell and hurt her back and was not able to help herself, but afterwards got better and could use her crutches again, but never was able to walk without them. In the house she could move by the chairs, tables, etc. In May 1897 her appetite failed and the 3rd day of June she did not get up in the morning, and on the 4th she died at 10 p.m. and on the 6th she was buried in the graveyard at Pinto, beside her daughter, Evaline, after seven years of great affliction".