Stephenson Family Ties The Barn Burnt Down
And Now I See The Moon

The word 'travel' stems from the same
root as "travail" does.  There's a reason
for this.  For centuries, traveling was
equated with suffering. Only pilgrims,
nomands soldiers and fools traveled.
from: The Geography of Bliss
by: Eric Weiner 

Alfred Gadd is My Builders great, great grandfather.
His parents were Samuel and Eliza Gadd.  And unless you've been living under a rock, (or your not a Mormon) you will recognize the name from pioneer history...more singularly , from the Martin and Willie Handcart saga.
Alfred, along with his parents and his brothers and sisters set out from Iowa City,  too late in the season, for Utah. Their supplies consisted of a 2 wheeled handcart, 500 fellow travelers, some oxen and mules, and the bare necessities.  There is an excellent article HERE to read more about this infamous story.)  The hardships and deprivations and courage displayed throughout this journey are beyond imagination.   
To me its Unfathonable.   Crossing the plains, 1400 miles @ 8-10 miles a day average, when winter hits early, pushing handcarts that contain all their worldly posessions, really, no pocessions at all.  Burying their dead along the way, sometimes in mass graves because a bitter night took so many due to exposure and starvation.  Selflessness at every turn...helping one another as best they could.  Samuel being one who carried women and children and those too weak, across an ice infested stream...shortly thereafter dying himself due to  exoposure and illness.  Alfred was 18 during this trek. He kept a journal.  He lost his father and 2 brothers as they struggled to cross the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. 

"The slow journey across to the land of promise was a most tiresome
and trying one.  Eight to ten miles a day was their average, camping
by a river or water course at night, in a circular formation, to protect
against Indian attacks.  Each family was rationed nice ounces of flour
a day.  Food gave out, shoes and clothing wore out, a pair of buck-
skin moccasins were lost, but were found later being boilded for food
by another hungry family, so desperate was their situation for essential
nourishment.  Winter snows came and some  were bare foot and two
hundred or more half starved and travel worn men, women and children
died and were buried along the trail.  Samuel Gadd, then about 40 yrs
of age, and two of his children, a boy of ten and a two yr old baby, a
twin of Isaac's, died and were buried in the same grave with a dozen
others. This left Alfred to assume the responsibility of the family."

Somehow Alfred survives the grueling ordeal and makes it to the valley with his mother and remaining siblings.  He later marries, and settles in Nephi, Utah, until asked to serve again...this time as a gruad and minuet man in the Black Hawk War against the Indians.  (another infamous incident in Mormon history)

My good Builder is most assuredly from this hard working  stock..I most assuredly AM NOT!! 

I, Cindy Stephenson, would be wracked with bad, bad thoughts all along the way!!  Did I ever tell you that I am uncomfortable with and avoid pioneer stories?  Its that unorthodox Mormon in me shining brightly.


Happy Birthday Alfred!
You will be remembered, and be awe inspiring forever!!
Bless you for your endurance, courage and for living by faith!!

1 comment:

Auntie Cathy said...

So fun to get caught up on your blog and family. Delightful! And what a great tribute you have given to the Alfred Gadd family and all of our pioneer ancestors. You and Bob are both examples of modern day pioneers as you blaze new trails in Logan! You've shown that you are definitely up to the task.