Mormon Literature Sampler: Mary Goble Pay

Mormon Literature Sampler:

Death Strikes the Handcart Company

Mary Goble Pay


I, Mary Goble, was born in Brighton, Sussex, England 2 June 1843. My father William Goble son of William and Harriet Johnson Goble. My mother was the daughter of John and Sarah Penfold.

My childhood days were spent the same as most children. When I was in my twelfth year, my parents joined the Latter-day Saints. On November 5th I was baptized. The following May we started for Utah. We left our home May 19, 1856. We came to London the first day, the next day came to Liverpool and West on board the ship, Horizon, that evening.

It was a sailing vessel and there were nearly nine hundred souls on board. We sailed on the 25th. The pilot ship came tugged us out into the open sea.

I well remember how we watched old England fade from sight. We sang "Farewell Our Native Land, Farewell."

While we were in the river the crew mutinied but they were put ashore and another crew came on board. They were a good set of men.

When we were a few days out, a large shark followed the big vessel. One of the saints died and he was buried at sea. We never saw the shark any more.

After we got over our seasickness we had a nice time. We would play games, and sing songs of Zion. We held meetings and the time passed happily.

When we were sailing through the banks of Newfoundland, we were in a dense fog for several days. The sailors were kept busy night and day ringing bells and blowing fog horns. One day I was on deck with my father, when I saw a mountain of ice in the sea close to the ship. I said, "Look, father, look." He went pale as a ghost and said, "Oh, my girl." At that moment the fog parted, the sun shone bright till the ship was out of danger, when the fog closed on us again.

We were on the sea six weeks, when we landed at Boston. We took the train from Iowa City where we had to get an outfit for the plains. It was the end of July. On the first of August we started to travel with our ox teams unbroke and did not know a thing about driving oxen. My father had bought two yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows, a wagon and tent. He had a wife and six children. Their names were: Mary, Edwin, Caroline, Harriet, James and Fanny.

My sister Fanny broke out with the measles on the ship and when we were in Iowa Campgrounds, there came up a thunder storm that blew down our shelter, made with hand carts and some quilts. The storm came and we sat there in the rain, thunder and lightening. My sister got wet and died the 19 July 1856. She would have been 2 years old on the 23. The day we started on our journey, we visited her grave. We felt very bad to leave our little sister there.

We traveled through the States until we came to Council Bluffs. Then we started on our journey of one thousand miles over the plains. It was about the last of September. We traveled from 15 to 25 miles a day. We used to stop one day in the week to wash. On Sunday we would hold our meetings and rest. Every morning and night we were called to prayers by the bugle.

The Indians were on the war path and very hostile. Our Captain John Hunt had us make a dark camp. That was to stop and get our supper then travel a few miles and not light any fires but camp and go to bed. The men had to travel all day and guard every other night.

One night cattle were in the corral, which was made with wagons. When one of the guards saw something crawling along the ground. All in a moment the cattle started. It was a noise like thunder. The guard shot off his gun. The animals jumped up and ran. It was an Indian with a buffalo robe on. Mother and we children were sitting in the tent. Father was on guard. We were surely frightened but Father came running in and told us not to be afraid for everything was all right.

We traveled on till we got to the Platt River. That was the last walk I ever had with my mother. We caught up with Handcart companies that day. We watched them cross the river. There were great lumps of ice floating down the river. It was bitter cold. The next morning there were fourteen dead in camp through the cold. We went back to camp and went to prayers. We sang the song "Come, Come, Ye Saints, No Toil Nor Labor Fear." I wondered what made my mother cry. That night my mother took sick and the next morning my little sister was born. It was the 23rd of September. We named her Edith and she lived six weeks and died for want of nourishment.

We had been without water for several days, just drinking snow water. The captain said there was a spring of fresh water just a few miles away. It was snowing hard, but my mother begged me to go and get her a drink. Another lady went with me. We were about half way to the spring when we found an old man who had fallen in the snow. He was frozen so stiff, we could not lift him, so the lady told me where to go and she would go back to camp for help for we knew he would soon be frozen if we left him. When she had gone I began to think of the Indians and looking and looking in all directions. I became confused and forgot the way I should go. I waded around in the snow up to my knees and I became lost. Later when I did not return to camp the men started out after me. It was 11:00 p.m. o'clock before they found me. My feet and legs were frozen. They carried me to camp and rubbed me with snow. They put my feet in a bucket of water. The pain was so terrible. The frost came out of my legs and feet but did not come out of my toes.

We traveled in the snow from the last crossing of the Platt River. We had orders not to pass the handcart companies. We had to keep close to them to help them if we could. We began to get short of food and our cattle gave out. We could only travel a few miles a day. When we started out of camp in the morning the brethren would shovel the snow to make a track for our cattle. They were weak for the want of food as the buffaloes were in large herds by the road and ate all the grass.

When we arrived at Devil's Gate it was bitter cold. We left lots of our things there. There were two or three log houses there. We left our wagons and joined teams with a man named James Barman. He had a sister Mary who froze to death. We stayed there two or three days. While there an ox fell on the ice and the brethren killed it and the beef was given out to the camp. My brother James ate a hearty supper was as well as he ever was when he went to bed. In the morning he was dead.

My feet were frozen also my brother Edwin and my sister Caroline had their feet frozen. It was nothing but snow. We could not drive the pegs in the ground for our tents. Father would clean a place for our tents and put snow around to keep it down. We were short of flour but father was a good shot. They called him the hunter of the camp. So that helped us out. We could not get enough flour for bread as we got only a quarter of a pound per head a day, so we would make it like thin gruel. We called it "skilly."

There were four companies on the plains. We did not know what would become of us. One night a man came to our camp and told us there would be plenty of flour in the morning for Bro. Young had sent men and teams to help us. There was rejoicing that night. We sang songs, some danced and some cried. His name was Ephriam Hanks. We thought he was a living Santa Claus.

We traveled faster now that we had horse teams. My mother had never got well, she lingered until the 11 of December, the day we arrived in Salt Lake City 1856. She died between the Little and Big Mountain. She was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. She was 43 years old. She and her baby lost their lives gathering to Zion in such a late season of the year. My sister was buried at the last crossing of the Sweet Water.

We arrived in Salt Lake City nine o'clock at night the 11th of December 1856. Three out Of four that were living were frozen. My mother was dead in the wagon.

Bishop Hardy had us taken to a home in his ward and the brethren and the sisters brought us plenty of food. We had to be careful and not eat too much as it might kill us we were so hungry.

Early next morning Bro. Brigham Young and a doctor came. The doctor's name was Williams. When Bro. Young came in he shook hands with us all. When he saw our condition our feet frozen and our mother dead-tears rolled down his cheeks.

The doctor amputated my toes using a saw and a butcher knife. Brigham Young promised me I would not have to have any more of my feet cut off. The sisters were dressing mother for the last time. Oh how did we stand it? That afternoon she was buried.

When we had been in Salt Lake a week, one afternoon a knock came at the door. It was Uncle John Wood. When he met Father he said, "I know it all Bill." Both of them cried- I was glad to see my father cry. Uncle said for him to pack up and we would start right away. That night we got to Centerville. There Aunt Fanny was waiting for us at Brother Garns. We stayed there that night. The next morning we went to Farmington and stayed there until the following April. My father married again.

Instead of my feet getting better they got worse until the following July I went to Dr. Wiseman's to live with them to pay for him to doctor my feet. But it was not use he said he could do no more for me unless I could consent to have them cut off at the ankle. I told him what Brigham Young had promised me. He said all right sit there and rot and I will do nothing more until you come to your senses.

One day I sat there crying. My feet were hurting me so-when a little old woman knocked at the door. She said she had felt some one needed her there for a number of days. When she saw me crying she came and asked what was the matter. I showed her my feet and told her the promise Bro. Young had given me. She said, "Yes, and with the help of the Lord we will save them yet." She made a poultice and put on my feet and every day after the doctor had gone she would come and change the poultice. At the end of three months my feet were well.

One day Doctor Wiseman said, "Well, Mary, I must say you have grit. I suppose your feet have rotted to the knees by this time." I said, "Oh, no, my feet are well." He said, "I know better, it could never be." So I took off my stockings and showed him my feet. He said that it was a miracle and wanted me to tell him what I had been doing. I told him to never mind that they were now healed.

I have never had to have any more taken from them. The promise of Brigham Young has been fulfilled and the pieces of toe bone have worked out.

I had sat in my chair so long that the cords of my legs had become stiff and I could not straighten them. When I went home to my father and he saw how my legs were we both cried. He rubbed the cords of my legs with oil and tried every way to straighten them, but it was of no use. One day he said, "Mary, I have thought of a plan to help you. I will nail a shelf on the wall and while I am away to work you try to reach it." I tried all day and for several days. At last I could reach it and how pleased we were. Then he put the shelf a little higher and in about three months my legs were straight and then I had to learn to walk again.

In the spring it was the time the people all moved south. My father and family moved to Nephi. I stayed at Spanish Fork until the spring of 1859, when I came to Nephi. I went to live with Aunt Carter. On the 26th of June I was married to Richard Pay.

My husband I first saw at Liverpool. He and his wife Sarah sailed in the ship Horizon. We traveled together. At Iowa camp ground their little girl was born July 11, 1856. The mother took the mountain fever. The baby died October 4, 1856 at Chimney Rock. Bro. Pay could not get anyone to dig the grave, so he started digging it himself, when my father came and helped him.

When my little sister died at Sweet Water, Bro. Pay helped my father when she was buried by the roadside. I felt like I couldn't leave her, for I had seen so many graves opened by the wolves. The rest of the company had got quite away when my father came back for me. I told him I could not leave her to be eaten by the wolves it seems too terrible. But he talked to me and we hurried on.

Bro. Pay's wife died at Bridger, Wyoming, so he was left alone. He arrived in Salt Lake City the 13th of Dec. He came down to American Fork and stayed there all winter. In the spring he started with all he owned tied up in a handkerchief and walked to Nephi. He lived to Jacob Bigler's, who was the bishop and worked for him for two years. Then we were married by Jacob G. Bigler at Nephi.

When I was married it was very hard times. My husband bought a one room adobe house. For windows we had a sack. Glass we could not get, so we greased some paper and put over the sack. That did alright until one day it rained and that spoiled our "glass." We then put up factory. We had a bed stead, three chairs, a table, a box for flour. Our bed tick we filled with straw. We had two sheets, two pillow slips, and one quilt. I used to take them off the bed and wash them and put them on again. For dishes we had three tin plates, three cups, a pan or two to cook in and a. spider to bake our bread. After a while we bought a bake kettle and a brass kettle.

We used to grow squash, let them freeze and then boil them and make molasses of the juice. Some we would make preserves out of by cutting up carrots and parsnips the size of dice and boil it in the juice.

We would save all the bits of fat and bones for our soap. To make the lye we would burn the hard wood for ashes, then put them in the leach. The leach was made by putting three or four boards, slanting at the bottom, then put in some straw. Then put on the ashes. When we had enough, we would pour boiling water on, then the lye would run slowly out. This we would boil and then make our soap.

My husband made adobes for eight sheep. I would take the wool, wash it, spin and dye it with weeds and leaves. I learned to spin and knit so I could knit our stockings, mitts and ties. My husband made our shoes. We had a cow, pig and chickens and raised wheat and vegetables.

The people all lived inside of a large mud wall with a north and south gate. At night our cattle and sheep were brought home and we were all locked inside the fort for safety from the Indians. Guards were at both gates. They were to see that no one came in or out of the gates that we did not know. They were locked at eight o'clock every night. If you did not get in then you were locked out.

We were a happy band of brothers and sisters. We felt safe locked inside the fort walls. In the winter time we would have lots of house parties. After a while we built our farms just outside the big walls. Then the Black Hawk War broke out and we were afraid for our children to be out of our sight, afraid the Indians would get them. We were afraid for them to play or cry, the noise might bring the red men. Poor little tots they would sit by the fire and say, "Why can't we have some fun, mama."

My husband took his turn on guard and when the Black Hawk War broke out he was a minute man called out any moment night or day. He had to furnish his own gun and ammunition and had to keep rations on hand. We used crackers and cheese. These were always ready so that he could go any moment. He belonged to Company B. Benjamin Ricks was his captain. Many a time he was called out with 40 rounds of ammunition to march after the red men. I got to know the rap of Brother Peter Sutton. He would say, "Brother Pay, I want you to march as quick as possible." He would kiss his wife and babies and be gone. We did not know if we would ever see each other again. All we could do was pray. He always said that no Indian would ever kill him.

President Brigham Young advised all that could to learn the Indian language so we could talk to them and to be kind to them and feed them and they would respect us.

There was a small tribe of Indians called Pagwats that stayed around Nephi. Their chief's name was Pawania. He and his squaw were very friendly to the white people. Many a time has she brought letters for us and we would send them by her. She would help me wash and pick wool and she taught me their language. Many a time she would tell me she had seen my husband and little son and they were well. She was very honest and would often bring back things that her papoose had taken.

One day she went to my husband's camp to get something to eat. He did not have anything to give her so she went to her wickiup and cooked a meal of deer meat and beans and made a cake of ground sun flower seeds, then called him to eat with them. Of course he had to go, but he suddenly lost his appetite. They hunted a rusty spoon for him, but they ate with their fingers.

She would always tell me when the Indians were getting mad and on the war path. The Ute Indians would get mad very often.

I remember one day when I was dressing my baby and two of the boys were playing on the floor, when the door opened and two Indians came in. One was the meanest looking Indian I ever saw. They started to talk. He said, "Let's kill them, see there are four scalps." The old chief said, "No, you cannot kill them for she and her husband are my friends." He got mad and said, "I'd like to cut their throats." Then I answered him. I tell you he was frightened Indian. For he didn't know I knew what he had said. He stood ramming his gun. I told him to go. The old chief laughed and made fun of him because he did not know I understood him. I loaded the old chief down with some things to eat because he had saved my life and my children.

It was afterwards proven that the Indian was one that had helped kill a family of six in Thistle Canyon. He and five others had a trial and were shot.

Black Hawk was a fine looking chief. Black Hawk looked different from the other chiefs. He was tall and had long black hair. His nose was long, and he had a black small mustache. He looked like he had Jewish blood in him. He could talk English quite good. He had nice looking squaws. It was fun to see them try to use their plates and knives and forks like white people.

He and his squaws would come in the fall to get us to hire them to husk corn. He would come with them, but he would not work. He would make the bargain for us to pay them so much corn and the best dinner we could get them. Which was not very rich I assure you.

One day when the war was about over, my husband and one of the boys were in Salt Creek Canyon with their sheep. They saw six Indians on horseback coming to their camp. One was Black Hawk, with five of his warriors. My husband thought his time had come, but the chief told him, he and his braves were good, that they were very hungry and wanted a sheep. He told them they could get one. They went into the herd, shot one of the best and ate every bit of it, but the skin. That night they stayed by the camp fire.

Black Hawk said, "You need not be afraid of us anymore. I am sick of blood. Look at me, the great chief. Brigham Young told me if I shed the Mormon's blood I should wither and die. I am going up to see the Big Chief Brigham once more and then I am going to the place where I was born and die. He did not live more than two or three weeks after. He was a living skeleton wasting to nothing. He knew it was because he had killed the white man.

It was the summer of 1860 our men were out in the fields busy getting up their hay. Nearly all the men were away from home. One day we heard an awful noise, my neighbors came running to my house. We knew it was the Indians on the war path. We went to the main street and there we saw a sight. It made us all sick. I guess there were fifty Indians riding on horses, four abreast with four scalps on their poles and their faces were painted horribly. When they saw us they sung their war songs. They rode through the city. One Indian paced up and down the forest wall by the side of our house. He had the clothes of a stage driver that they had killed in Little Salt Creek. He had a white shirt on all stained with blood. He said, "White man's blood." We did not know who the scalps were. They might be our husbands'. Bishop Bigler sent three of our young men to the meadow to see if our brothers were safe and for them to come as quick as possible.

When the brethren in the field saw the young men coming they got together and waited. They wondered what was wrong, but the men told them of the Indians at the fort and that we were nearly frightened to death. We were sure glad to see our brethren safe. Bishop Bigler said for us to go to our homes and not to interfere with the red men but to protect our family.

We kept watch all that day. The next morning they were gone. The soldiers were after them. They kept up their noise all night. On one of the mountains they had signal fires to tell if anyone was after them.

One day when our trees were starting to bear Little John and his squaws came to our house for some peaches. My husband was away from home. There was a tree of peaches that they wanted. I told them they could not have them for I wanted them for myself. He told his squaws to go get them I was afraid to stop them. He spoke in his language, but I knew what he said. I told him if they went I would bring them out. He laughed and told them to go on. They went and he sat down under the tree. His squaws and his boys were picking the fruit. I gathered up a stock and when they saw me coming they got out of the tree tumbling over one another, old Little John and all. He was very mad. He said, the white man had taken the land and water away from the Indians and that all that was there belonged to them.

He did not come again to our house until spring. Then he came in laughing and wanted to shake hands asking us if we were friendly. My husband told him he didn't know. Then he wanted to shake hands with me. He said, "Brave squaw not afraid." We shook hands with him and he went away laughing. And he behaved himself after that.

There was another Indian named Bob. He was mean and the women were afraid of him. He had a squaw who was sick. He came and asked us for some medicine for her. We gave him some. He would come painted horribly. I would say to him, "What is the matter, Bob?" He said, "I am mad, but I will not hurt you nor your husband, nor your papoose, you good to me, to my squaw."

I could relate many more incidents of our dealings with the Indians but we followed Pres. Young's advise to be good to them, feed them and not fight them. An Indian never forgets a kindness and he never forgets a wrong. They are truthful. If they say they will do a thing, they will do it. I remember my husband asked one of them if he had seen his oxen. He told him if he would get them for him he would pay him. The next morning it rained hard but he was there with the oxen. Although it was storming hard he had kept his word. He said he had told him he would bring them so he did.

My husband was driving cattle one day and some of them ran in the brush. He went after them and he saw a man's vest, part of a leg and an arm. The vest had a watch in the pocket. He came to camp and notified Cap. Hunt and Gilbert Spencer. They got on their horses and went with him to the place. It looked like a man had sat down to rest and gone to sleep and had been killed and eaten by wolves. His name was Bro. Stone. He must have been making for our camp, as he had a sister and her daughter living there, that he used to stay with very often. My husband gave the watch to his sister, Janet. She later moved to Spanish Fork. Her daughter's name was Anna. She married Bishop Wells of Spanish Fork.

Once when the boys were coming in to spend the 24th of July, we heard there were eight Indians in Dog Valley that were very hostile. I was very much frightened for I knew that my two boys, Richard and George, and their friend Tom Carter would surely meet them if they came that way. All we could do was to pray for the Lord to protect them. It came nine o'clock at night and they hadn't reached home. We were very much worried, when we heard the boys singing. I asked them if they had seen any Indians in Dog Valley. Richard said they did not come that way for a voice seemed to say to take the road through Spring Canyon. I knew that was an answer to our prayers. The Lord had protected them.

One might wonder what my husband used to fix his shoes with. He had to work to make everything himself. There was a tannery, where he would buy the leather paying for it by trading wheat, corn or potatoes. For the pegs, he would get maple and saw it in different sizes, butting them with his knife. For the wax he would boil tar and put grease in it. For the shoe thread, some of the sisters would spin the cotton and grease it with the wax. For soles we used skins. We took salaterous from the top of the ground, cleaned it and used it (soda) for cooking.

To make whitewash we would get a rock of plaster paris, bury it in hot ashes, make a fire and burn it until it crumbled. Our salt we would get out of a cave. We had to boil it to get it clean. We used to make our starch out of potatoes. To grate the potatoes we would use a piece of tin with holes punched in it. We made enough in the spring to last a year.

For fruit we gathered ground cherries, sarvice berries, choke cherries, and wild currants. When the men went to work, they would take a sack to get their pay. It would be corn, potatoes, grain, flour, squash, or anything we could get.

My husband was a teacher in the first Sunday School in Nephi. I think it was in the year 1862.

Thirteen children were born to us: ten sons and three daughters. Two died in infancy and one little son two years old. The rest lived to manhood and womanhood.

We lived in Nephi twenty-two years, then moved to Leamington. One January 4th, 1892, our eldest son died with pneumonia. He was 21 years and 3 months.

My husband and I were called to sing in the choir. He was a teacher in the ward and clerk and President of the Seventies. I was called as a second counselor in the Relief Society to work with Sister Anna T. Walker. She moved away and I worked with another sister until the fall of 1893. I was called as President of the Primary at Leamington. I labored in Relief Society ten years and in Primary twelve years.

My husband died April 18, 1893, at Learnington and was buried in Nephi. When I moved to Nephi, I was called to act as a teacher in the Second Ward. I was left with nine children, two were married. It looked pretty dark with nothing coming in. I had to depend on my boys and being strangers in Nephi they did not get much work, so I started to nurse the sick. In this I had good success.

The first of Sept 1894, my son George died of typhoid fever. He left a wife and five children. When he died my son William was very sick. On Nov. 12, 1895, my daughter Sarah Eliza died. She was nearly fifteen years old.

It is now Oct. 1896, fifty years ago we left our homes over the sea for Utah. Quite a few of us that are left have been in Salt Lake City to celebrate our Jubilee. We met in the 14th ward assembly hall. We held three meetings. President Joseph F. Smith presided and the Relief Society furnished us a banquet. We had a very good time. I stayed with Annie Pay Kimball. We met the captain of our company. We were happy to see one another and talk of the times that are gone.

My sister Carrie and her husband went up to the city with me. Her husband came in Captain Ellsworth Handcart Company. We went to conference two days and then went to the cemetery to find my mother's grave. It was in Lot 2, plot C. It was tile first time I had seen it; for when she was buried our feet were so we could not go to the funeral and later we moved South.

No one knows how I felt as we stood there by her grave. There was Alma, his wife, myself, and Ethel, one of George's daughters. There were three generations and our mother was a martyr of the truth. I thought of her words, "Polly, I want to go to Zion while my children are small, so they can be raised in the Gospel of Christ. For I know this is the true Church."

Now there are 31 grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren living, and 15 are dead. There are three of us living-my brother, sister, and I.

I later went to Farmington and visited with my cousin Ellen Pierce. I saw a number of my cousins. I came back to the city and went to the temple and saw my son Alma married. I worked in the temple two days.

I think my mother had her wish. My brother and three of my sons have filled missions and her grandsons and daughter are workers in the Church. They are all members of the Church.

I now have six sons and one daughter living, four sons are married and I have eleven grandchildren and I am proud of them all.

I am the mother of thirteen children, 10 sons and three daughters. My brother Edwin is the father of fifteen sons and daughters. My sister Carrie is the mother of nine-seven sons and two daughters.

In Sept. 1902 we had a Jubilee to celebrate the fifty years of settling Nephi. I was in the parade as a Gleaner, the first day. The next day as a braider. We rode in Bro. Nephi Jackson's wagon. There was Aunt Bird, my sister Carrie Bowers, Eliza Bowers, Cynthia Downs and myself. I hope in fifty years that I will have a representative in the parade.

Oct. 1908, I have been to our Handcart Reunion and met quite a few old friends. We went to conference in Salt Lake and my brother and I went to see my mother's grave. It has been renumbered. It is now plot F. Lot 8 and 12.

Oct. 24, 1909. I went to Sunday School and was asked to relate a few incidents of our journey across the plains. I told them we had the first snow storm the 22nd of Sept. in 1856. There were fifteen who died through the cold and exposure while crossing the Platte River. Sister McPherson sat by me and she said her mother was the fifteenth to die. They were all laid side by side and a little dirt thrown over them.

November, I have been to a reunion. I met Bro. Langly Bailey and had a good time talking over incidents of our trip across the plains. It made me feel bad it brought it all up again. It is wise for our children to see what their parents passed through for the Gospel, yes, I think it is.

Mary Goble Pay

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