Question: What great sorrow did Elizabeth Jackson experience on her journey West in the Martin Handcart Company in 1856?
Answer: Elizabeth Horrocks was born on August 5, 1826 in Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, the oldest of eleven children of Edward Horrocks and Alice Houghton. The family heard the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about 1840 and were converted to it. They, like other Saints, had the desire to join with the Church in Utah. Alice died in 1856 in Macclesfield, England. Their son, Samuel, went to Utah in October 24, 1854. Other members of the family came at different times.
Elizabeth married Aaron Jackson on May 28, 1848 in England. In 1856, Elizabeth and her husband, Aaron, and their three children Martha age 7, Mary age 5, and Aaron age 2, were among those who traveled to Utah with the Martin Handcart Company.
Elizabeth recorded her experience at this time. “On the 20th of October we traveled, or almost wallowed, for about ten miles through the snow. At night, weary and worn out, we camped near the Platte River, where we soon left it for the Sweetwater. We were visited with three more days of snow...About the 25th of October, I think it was—I cannot remember the exact date—we reached camp about sundown.
“My husband had for several days previous been much worse. He was still sinking, and his condition now became more serious. As soon as possible after reaching camp I prepared a little of such scant articles of food as we then had. He tried to eat but failed. He had not the strength to swallow. I put him to bed as quickly as I could. He seemed to rest easy and fell asleep. About nine o’clock I retired...I slept until, as it appeared to me, about midnight. I was extremely cold. The weather was bitter. I listened to hear if my husband breathed—he lay so still. I could not hear him. I became alarmed. I put my hand on his body, when to my horror I discovered that my worst fears were confirmed. My husband was dead...
“When daylight came, some of the male part of the company prepared the body for burial. And oh, such a burial and funeral service...They wrapped him in a blanket and placed him in a pile with thirteen others who had died, and then covered him up in the snow. The ground was frozen so hard that they could not dig a grave. He was left there to sleep in peace until the trump of the Lord shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall awake and come forth in the morning of the first resurrection. We shall then again unite our hearts and lives, and eternity will furnish us with life forever more.
“I will not attempt to describe my feelings at finding myself thus left a widow with three children, under such excruciating circumstances. I cannot do it. But I believe the Recording Angel has inscribed in the archives above, and that my sufferings for the Gospel’s sake will be sanctified unto me for my good...I could therefore appeal to the Lord alone; He who had promised to be a husband to the widow, and a father to the fatherless...The snow lay several inches deep upon the ground. The night was bitterly cold. I sat down on a rock with one child in my lap and one on each side of me. In that condition I remained until morning...
“It will be readily perceived that under such adverse circumstances I had become despondent. I was six or seven thousand miles from my native land, in a wild, rocky, mountain country, in a destitute condition, the ground covered with snow, the waters covered with ice, and I with three fatherless children with scarcely nothing to protect them from the merciless storms. When I retired to bed that night, being the 27th of October, I had a stunning revelation. In my dream, my husband stood by me and said—[“Be of good cheer] Elizabeth; deliverance is at hand.”
The next day three men came into the camp from the advanced relief company from Salt Lake and brought word that assistance, provisions and clothing were near in the ten wagons waiting for them at Devil’s Gate.
Elizabeth made it to Utah and settled in Ogden, Utah. “The company furnished me transportation to the residence of my brother, Samuel Horrocks, in Ogden City. Here my children and I rested and recruited, and here we have remained ever since. And the Lord has blessed me, and rewarded me with abundance of this world’s goods, for all my sufferings, and has also blessed me with the highest blessings of a spiritual nature that can be conferred upon man or woman, in His Holy Temple, in mortality.”
On July 6, 1857, Elizabeth married William Richard Kingsford, a widower, for time only. Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson Kingsford died on October 17, 1908 in Ogden at age 82 and is buried in the Ogden City Cemetery.
Source: Leaves from the Life of Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson Kingsford, 1908, Ogden, Utah, FamilySearch.org; Ensign, December 2006, “Go and Bring Them In,” by LaRene Porter Gaunt and Linda Dekker; findagrave.com