WILLIE HANDCART COMPANY SURVIVOR GUIDED BY WHAT MATTERS MOST
Submitted by Joe Badger’ Descendant of Susannah Stone Lloyd
In 1856 Susannah Stone Lloyd, a convert to the Church from Bristol, England and member of the Willie handcart company, was crossing the plains into Wyoming. She joined the Church against her parent’s wishes. In the company of other saints, she crossed the ocean and began her long journey west.
At age 25 she joined the Willie handcart Company and continued on Zion by herself with no husband nor other family members to help her. She recalled one particularly difficult part of that experience:
After we had traveled about seven hundred miles, and our provisions being short, our Captain bought up all the biscuits and flour that he could get in Laramie. We had to live on short rations and it became very cold and a number of our older people died. Sixteen were buried at one time. Traveling as we were, with scant clothing and lack of sufficient food, we suffered greatly from the severe cold and snow.
On account of the loss of cattle it became necessary for each hand cart to take additional load, by each taking a share of the provisions that were left. We waded through the cold streams many times but we murmured not, for our faith in God and our testimony of His work were supreme. And in the blizzards and falling snow we sat under our hand-carts and sang, ‘Come, Come Ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear but with joy wend your way. Though hard to you this journey may appear, grace shall be as your day.’
I often think of the songs we used to sing to encourage us on our toilsome journey. It was hard to endure but the Lord gave us strength and courage. Yes, the Lord has multiplied blessings upon my head and I praise His Holy Name and pray that I may be worthy of the many blessings promised to the faithful.
Although she did all she could to muster courage and to continue to move ahead against the relentless rigors, the cold conditions they suffered in Wyoming became more than she could endure. Like many of us, finding ourselves in our own disastrous circumstances, she began to lose sight of what mattered most. She gave up. In her own words she described what happened.
Only once did my courage fail. One cold dreary afternoon my feet having been frosted I felt I could go no farther. I withdrew from the little company and sat down to wait the end, being somewhat in a stupor. After a time I was aroused by a voice, which seemed as audible as anything could be and which spoke to my very soul, of the promises and blessings I had received, and which should surely be fulfilled and that I had a mission to perform in Zion. I received strength and was filled with the spirit of the Lord. I arose and traveled on with a light heart. As I reached camp I found a searching party ready to go back to find me dead or alive. I had no relatives but many dear and devoted friends, and we did all we could to aid and encourage each other.
Susannah somehow was able to reach inside herself and find the strength to carry on when all hope seems lost. Elder Uchtdorf said.
They believed that God had a plan for them and a place prepared where they could worship God and live their religion in peace. I think they will be pleased by our interest in them. I think they will be humbled by our admiration. But I also believe that they will be far more concerned not about what they did, but about what we did as a result of their sacrifice. I have a feeling they will be pleased far more by our performance than by applause, praise, or parades. They will want to know if we gained anything from the hard-won lessons they learned through tribulation and trial. They will want to know if their sacrifice and endurance made a difference to us and our children.
As we listen to stories of our early pioneer forefathers we stand in awe of their fortitude and faith. They were willing to endure such trials to follow a prophet of God. But the real importance is what we learn from their example. We each face our own trials in life. They are different from the trials faced by the early pioneers, but they are no less real, nor no less challenging.
As we face and overcome our own adversities, may we murmur not, for our faith in God and our testimony of His work are supreme. Like Susannah Stone Lloyd, may we be guided by what matters most.
Susannah was born 24 December 1830 in Bristol, Gloucester, England. What a wonderful Christmas present! (I know because our son Norman Lloyd Spender was born on her birthday 23 December 1946, just 116 years later.) Her mother and father were Diana Grant and William F. Stone.
The following about her is taken from “Mothers and Daughters of Pioneers” p. 94.
“Susannah Stone (Lloyd) was born in Bristol, England, December 24, 1830. Her childhood days were happily spent in a comfortable home amidst a large family, she being the eldest. Having a spiritual nature, she read her Bible diligently. She attended the Church of England with her parents with occasional visits to other denominations, leaving always with that same feeling of dissatisfaction and unrest.”
“When a girl about 17 years of age, she heard of the Mormon Elders preaching the Restored Gospel of Christ. She received with joy their message. From that time, she knew what the scriptures meant, where it says, “He who will not forsake all for the Gospel is not worthy of me”. Her disappointment was great when she carried her newfound joy to her parents and friends and was rejected and even persecuted by them. She often walked miles to attend the meetings. To her great joy, later her sister Sarah received a testimony of the Gospel. Every inducement was offered, and every obstacle placed in her way to hinder her from emigrating to Utah, so she left home. She found remunerative employment and saved money for her own emigration.”
“Susannah came West with no other relative. She pushed a handcart. Snow came and her feet were frost bitten so that she suffered with them the rest of her life. She arrived in Salt Lake Valley on 5 November 1856.” See her own handwritten account of her Westward journey given to her grandson, Norman Lea Lloyd. I will give you this description in full a little later.
The following description of her sister, Sarah Stone (Mrs. John Deakin) taken from page 94 of “Mothers and Daughter of Pioneers” “Her sister Sarah Stone was born in Bristol, England the 10 August 1833:
She was the second daughter in a large family of boys and girls. Her parents William Stone and Diana Grant belonged to the church of England. They were honest and upright people, teaching their family that chastity of thought and action were necessary for a successful life. The father being a sign painter of ability was able to earn sufficient to make his family comfortable. Sarah had a jovial, independent nature and at first criticized her sister Susannah for attending the meetings of the “unpopular” Mormons, who met in unpretentious meeting places, and were looked down upon by the people at large. However, the blood of Israel also flowed in her veins, the Gospel message was for her, too. She heard, listened and obeyed, being baptized by Elder George Halladay about 1847.
Ten years later she bade good-bye to her mother and father, brothers, sister, home and country and cast her lot with the Saints in America, and her sister Susannah.”
Their father William Stone Jr. was born 24 April 1807 in Bristol, Gloucester, England. (Later proven to be in Bermondsey, London, England) His wife Diana Grant was born 30 January 1830. She died 5 January 1873 in Bristol, England. Their family is as follows:
It would seem that Susannah was named after her paternal grandmother and Sarah was named after her maternal grandmother. William Stone Jr’s parents were William Stone Sr. and Susannah Edith Bushnell. Diana Grant’s parents were William Grant and Sarah Sherman. Their son, William Stone III was named after both his grandfathers who were both named William. (The following is a handwritten account by Suzanah STONE, this being the way she signed her name. Anna Lea Lloyd Spencer) (I typed it the way it was given to me with misspellings, grammatical errors and punctuation errors. Marsha Howell)
“Being requested by some of the officers of the young Ladies Association to give to members a sketch of our travels in crossing the Plains with handcarts in early days, I will endeavor to do so as far as my memory will serve me, my parents and relatives. In the year of Eighteen hundred and fifty-six, President Young advised the young people of the church in the British Isles to gather to Zion…Many of us young people, we was young then having the Spirit of gathering was willing to make every sacrifice to get here, so we left our homes and all that was in an Earthly sense, to gather with Saints. We started in May to cross the great Atlantic Ocean and we came to Liverpool the first week in May and we crossed the sea on the ship “Thornton”. We landed in New York in July.
We was detained by fogs which threw us later in the Season. It was a Sailing Vessel. After arriving in New York we stayed at a place called Castel Gardens for a few days. Then we went up the rivers on Steam Boats. We traveled some by rail up threw the states until we came to the frontiers which was Ioway Camground whear our outfits were being made ready…Oxen drawed our Provisions and tents…And we brought enough clothing to last us to the end of our journey if we had not been detained on our hand carts. The rest of our clothing was brought the next Spring by the Walker Brothers. I shall [never] forget the day that we started from the camp grounds. Brother James G. Willy was our captain, Brother Millen Atwood was his Councilor. They were two good fatherly men. They done all in their power to make our journey pleasant under the circumstances…Some of our Brethren from Salt Lake was on the Camp Ground when we started with our hand carts.
They showed us how to Push and Pull. We traveled very slowly the first few days but after we got more used to traveling we made better head way. It was very warm weather the forepart of our journey but it was pleasant mornings and evenings…a few days after we traveled we met a company of Indians with an Indian interpreter telling us that their had been a massacre…The parties mentioned was Coulnal Babbet and his teamsters that were taking a train of goods to Salt Lake. The year we crossed the plains we met several Indian tribes going East to war as we were coming west. But nothing daunted us for we knew that we was on the Lord’s side. And we knew that he could protect us. We passed the camgrounds of several families that was massacred the same season that was on their way to the gold field of California.
After we got quite a distance on our journey we lost as near as I can remember forty head of cattle or oxen that drawed the provision wagons that delayed us several weeks while they were hunting them. Some supposed that they were stampeded by buffalo others thought that the Indians had driven them off. This threw us latter in the season which brought us to suffer with the cold as well as throwing our provisions short. After we had traveled about seven hundred miles we came to Larime Station where our captain bought all the provisions that could be bought after we got within an hundred and fifty miles of Salt Lake our provisions again became very scarce. But the Lord in a Miraculous way opened up our way by inspiring his servant President Young to send relief…I remember that morning when our captain started on horseback and told us that when he sees us again, it would be with good news.
The morning that he started it became very cold and it snowed and the brethren that had charge of the company said that we had better stay until the storm was over and for all we were under such trying circumstances the Lord blessed us with such an outpouring of his holy Spirit that our hearts were filled with joy and we sang the songs of Zion. Soon after the storm abated we saw our good old captain coming over the brow of the hill waving his had and when he came to us he told us their was a company of brethren on their way to meet us laden with provisions…Buffalo robes and blankets and teams to take us home to the valley. You can better imagine than I can describe the joy and rejoicing that filled the camp. Some of our brethren that came to meet us was old acquaintances. You may guess what a happy meeting that was.
Their was a company that started, and their was one that a little behind us. I believe that it was about five hundred in our company when we started but some stayed back in the states and others died with the hardships of the journey. We got into Salt Lake on the fifth of November 1856…nine years after the Pioneers. Our journey immortalized the lives of those that remained faithful.”
Suzanah Stone Lloyd