"Martin Handcart Company" William Barton, Mary Ann Barton

Last update: March 2008
See Rootswebs for more family information
Back to Spendlove Leatham Genealogy

Mary Ann Barton (Allen) History

Rescue at Devil's Gate 1856

by Clark Kelly Price        A Priceless Heritage:    President James E. Faust
 Mary Ann Barton History

Mary Ann's favorite song as a member
of the

Martin Handcart Company

Mary Ann

The Pioneer Story:  
Martin's Cove

1997 Trail Trek
to Martin's Cove and
Mormon Handcart
Visitor's Center

    Autobiography of Mary Ann Barton Allen

Collected by Margaret E. Spendlove Pratt,
and reported by Jacqueline Spendlove Leatham

My name is Mary Barton. I was born inMap of North Meols area Southport, Lancashire, England, January 13, 1842.  My mother died when I was a year old.  At the age of six, I went to school, but had to stop when I reached my tenth birthday.  At twelve I went out to work for my living.
When 14 years old I left England to come to Utah for the Gospel's sake.  That was on May 22, 1856.
    One day while on the ship, I was in the cooking room getting our dinner.  It was so crowded there was hardly standing room.  All were cooking their meal.  One man was boiling soup in a milk pan.  When he took the soup from the stove, he lifted it over my head in order to carry it through the crowd.  While doing so, someone knocked against him, and it fell out of his hand on my back.  My father stood outside waiting for me to come with the dinner.  I ran out to him and said, "I am burned."  He said, "Come downstairs and lets get some oil".  So we ran down and got one of the Mormon elders to administer to me.  My pain had gone, and I never felt any more of it.  Some of the soup went on the hands of the man who spilled it on me.  He put his hands in a bucket of cold water and wasn't administered to.  He not being a convert, he wouldn't hear of having the elders pray for him.  His hands were blistered and didn't get well for two weeks.
    We had been five weeks on the sea when we landed in Boston.  We were very glad to walk on land agin.  We left Boston for Iowa and were eight days on the train.  When we arrived in Iowa, we had three miles to walk to the camp grounds.  It rained all the way, and we were soaking wet when we reached camp that night at twelve o'clock.
    We had to stay on the camp grounds five weeks waiting for the handcarts to be made.  When everything was ready we started.  Traveling through Ohio and Council Bluffs (Nebraska), we had to cross the Missouri River which was about a mile from Florence.  At that time so many of our company took sick that we had to camp at Florence for two weeks.  Then we started on a journey of thirteen hundred miles across the plains.  The people began to get sick and died from drinking muddy water.  We had to drink pools of rain water most of the time.  While traveling, one of the wagons split and let flour out.  The Indians who were nearly starved to death came along behind picking it up and eating it, dirt and all.
    One day while we were camped an Indian came to me and asked me to give him my shawl which I had on my shoulders.  I told him it was all I had to keep me from freezing to death.  He turned and walked away.
    Some of us had to stand guard every night to keep the Indians from stealing our cattle.  One day as we were going along we came across three Indians buried in the ground with just their heads sticking out.  Upon reaching the Platt River we found Indians wrapped in blankets and laid across the boughs of trees.  This was another form of burial the Indians had for their dead.
    The soldiers came and guarded us past Chimney Rock.  They stayed with us until we reached Fort Bridger.  There they stopped and we had to go on alone.  When we got on one side of  Devils Gate, we had to rest about a week, and our cattle died.  We roasted the feet and the hides.  Then we ate them.
    Joseph Young came on a donkey to meet us.  He told us to come on about three miles further.  Then we would meet the Mormons who were coming to meet us with wagons of provisions.  They could only carry a small amount because the snow was so deep, and they had to carry grain for their horses.
    We started that morning and traveled all day.  We got to the Mormon camp about five o'clock.  The next morning we started with the Mormons and camped at South Pass that night.  After pitching our tents we lay down on the ground to get some sleep and rest.  In the night the tents all blew over.  It was all ice and snow where I was laying, and when the tents blew off I didn't wake up I was so tired.  One man came and looked at me.  He called some more men over saying, "I wonder if she is dead?"  He patted me on the head and just then I opened my eyes.  He jumped back.  I tried to raise my head but found that my hair was frozen to the ground.  They chopped the ice all around my hair, and I got up and went over to the fire and melted the large pieces of ice that were clinging to my hair.  The men laughed to think that I could lie there all night with my hair frozen in the ice, but were very glad that I wasn't dead.  This same night the handcarts all blew away, and some of us had to walk until we met some other wagons.
    Mrs. Unthanks got her feet frozen and had to have them taken off, but when we met more wagons we could all ride.  There were four men in our tent, and all of them died, father dying first. ...
    We reached Salt Lake City the last of November, 1856.  We were waiting on the streets for people to ask us home with them, when a man by the name of Daniel King asked me to go home with him.  I went, but did not like to stay at his place.  He was a medium and wasn't afraid of spirits.  He would call them up about every night at the same time and talk to them.  One night I heard some one rapping at the door, and soon after I saw a ring of fire with a white hand in it on the door.  I called to Mr. King and asked him what that was.  He said he didn't see anything and told me I didn't either.  But every night he would call the spirits and they would rap on the door and then come in and talk to him.
    One day Mr. King asked me to marry him, but I didn't like him.  Soon after that I went to Spanish  Fork because Johnson's Army was coming to Salt Lake to take possession of the city.  When the Mormons headed them off, they gave up and said if the Mormons would let them come into Salt Lake, they would not harm them.  The Mormons let them in.
    One night I heard some one rapping on the door across the street from where I lived.  The next day I learned that Daniel King and his family had also moved to Spanish Fork and were living just across the street.  Soon after that Daniel King's family and himself were baptized and he stopped calling up spirits.  While at Spanish Fork I married John Allen, a pioneer.  He was already married to Sarah Dalton Allen.  We stayed there five years and then moved to Parowan, Iron County, Utah.
    All the pioneers had their cattle up in Little Creek Canyon.  The Indians came and stole some of them.  Then the pioneers had to follow them to get their cattle back.  That night they sent Lehi West, an Indian, who had been raised by some Parowan people, over to the Indians.  He learned all the Indians' plans and then went back and told the pioneers.  In this way they got their cattle back.
    We moved to a farm which was one mile east of Summit.  One day John and his first wife went to Paragonah and left me and my children home alone.  In the afternoon a crowd of Indians came up to the house, walked in and asked me for some bread.  I had just taken a large loaf out of the bake kettle, and as soon as they saw it they told me to cut it in slices for them.  Being very frightened, I gave it to them and then took my children outside.  They stayed for a while and then went away.  Soon after the Indians left I saw a man coming along the farm road from Parowan.  I watched him until it was dark and then went in the house and sat by the stove.  He soon came.  After knocking at the door, he came in and asked it he could stay all night.  I told him yes, and after giving him his supper, which consisted of bread and bran coffee, all I had, he went to bed.  That night it snowed, and his bed was covered.  There was a hole in the roof over his bed.  The next morning he got up, made a fire and swept the floor with my sage broom.  After breakfast he went.  It was a relief to me because he had a large knife and a revolver strapped on him.
    In the spring we moved to Parowan, stayed all summer and then went to Summit.  We had to guard the corrals to keep the Indians from stealing our cattle.
    One day Helen, an Indian girl who had been raised by the whites in Parowan, came rushing into our house.  She asked if she could stay all night.  In a few minutes Susie, another squaw, came in.  She accused Helen of stealing some beads from her.  Helen denied it, and they quarreled.  Susie slashed Helen over the head with a whip, knocked her hat off, then trampled on it.  John put Susie out of the house.  She had a knife and told him she would kill him.  John sent our son Will down to Brother Hulet's to see if Helen could stay down there.  They took her, but Susie followed.  All night Susie stayed at the foot of the stairs.  The next day Brother Hulet took Susie and Helen to Parowan where they held trial and Helen produce the beads.
    I was a teacher in the Relief Society for fifteen years and always taught my children to believe in the Gospel and to go to all Mormon meetings.

Back to Leatham Spendlove Genealogy