As the Prophet, Brigham Young gathered the European saints to the Salt Lake City area. He initiated the Perpetual Immigration Fund to assist those who had financial hardships including Ann who was needful. Ann’s two oldest sons had already traveled to America, and her two oldest daughters did not come. Ann embarked on the journey to America with her youngest three children (John, Jane, and Joseph) and extended family members consisting of two widows and four other children. John was then 17 years old. They joined with 850 others on a sailing vessel named “Horizon” sailing for more than a month before arriving in Boston in June 1856.

The trip from Boston to Cleveland, Ohio, and then by train to Iowa City, Iowa, was very uncomfortable, all the while fighting weather and persecution to the saints. In Iowa they waited for handcarts to be made.

There was a total of 10 handcart companies that traveled to Salt Lake City between 1856 and 1860. Eight of the 10 companies successfully arrived. The two largest companies, however met with tragedy-the fourth company of 500 saints led by James G. Willie and the fifth company of 665 saints led by Edward Martin. Also, part of this tragedy included two independent wagon companies made up of saints who had the means to purchase their own wagons-one wagon company of 185 saints led by William B. Hodgett and the other of 200 saints led by John A. Hunt. The Hodgett wagon company traveled near or with the Martin handcart company, and the Hunt company traveled about two days behind Martin and Hodgett.

Ann and her family were in the Edward Martin Handcart company and left Iowa on July 28, 1856. It was a late departure for arrival before winter storms. Elder Franklin D. Richards, having passed the company in September, and concerned about their safety, informed Brigham Young of 1,200 to 1,300 saints who were still on the plains. The next day at General Conference Brigham Young said, “As most of you have heard, on this the fifth day of October, many of our brethren and sisters are still out on the plains with handcarts. They must be brought here. We must send assistance to them.”

“Let me make myself perfectly clear. I will tell you that all of your faith, all of your religion, and all of your profession of religion will never save one soul of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, not unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in these people now on the plains! Attend strictly to those things which we call temporal duties; otherwise, your faith will be in vain. The preaching you have heard will be in vain to you; and you will sink to hell, unless you attend to the things we tell you.”

The remainder of this story is about the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints who were motivated by their desire to follow a living prophet and gather to Zion. They found themselves in the midst of extraordinary circumstances due to a late start and early snowstorms, but they displayed courage and faith as they relied on God, the gospel, and one another. No one could have predicted the severity of the snowstorms that created such suffering; nor could anyone have predicted the heights to which Brigham Young, the Saints in Utah, the immigrants and rescuers would rise to in the midst of extreme difficulty.

When they arrived in Salt Lake City, our story continues with Ann facing yet more challenges. Her youngest son, Joseph Smith (age 7), had badly frozen feet and legs to his knees. The doctor came to Ann twice wanting to cut his legs off, but she would not consent to it saying, “If he dies, he must die whole and not in pieces.” She had faith that he would be healed. An older lady came to her and told her to scrape some raw potatoes and put this on his legs. Ann did this, and it healed her son’s legs and feet. However, the trek to Zion had put young Joseph’s health at risk. He was never very healthy and died at the young age of 27. He had settled in Fairfield, Utah.

John, the oldest son on this journey, stayed at Fort Laramie, Wyoming serving in the military and came into Salt Lake City later in 1857. He was reunited with his mother Ann and then settled in Fairfield, Utah. He may have been a laborer at Camp Floyd, a military fort across the creek from Fairfield. He was steadfast in the gospel and received his endowment in Salt Lake City on February 10, 1865.

John married Lunes on August 26, 1875. Ann moved with them in 1878 to Richfield, Utah. Oswald and his family lived close by. John and Lunes had nine children. Richard Oliver was the seventh child and last boy in the family. There he learned to farm. On March 2, 1893, John appeared before the District Court in Provo to declare his allegiance to the United States of America and to give up his rights as a British citizen. Becoming naturalized allowed immigrants more privileges such as land ownership, voting, etc.

John and Lunes moved to Salt Lake City to be close to the temple during his later years. He did much temple work until his death on January 4, 1915, at the age of 77.

Other’s Experiences

Ann Rawley, a mother of seven children related: “It hurt me to see my children go hungry. There was a time when there seemed to be no food at all. After asking for God’s help, I remembered two hard sea biscuits in my trunk.” She reasoned, “Surely that was not enough to feed eight people, but then five loaves and two fishes were not enough to feed 5,000 people either.” Sister Rawley put the biscuits in a Dutch oven and covered them with water, asked God’s blessings, and put the pan on the goals. She continued, “When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan was filled with food.”

The Sweetwater River flowed between Devil’s Gate and the cove and was full of floating ice with temperatures being six degrees below zero. Some of the saints needed help to cross. Among those offering to help were three young men (three brave men in the ice water, packing the women and children across on their backs all day long. Later when President Brigham Young heard of this heroic act, he wept and declared publicly, “That act alone will ensure them and everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end.”

Captain Grant and the rescue party had traveled 100 miles through deep snow and reached Devil’s Gate on Sunday, October 26, with no sign of the ailing Martin, Hodgett, or Hunt companies. The rescue party was totally exhausted and spent the day in fasting and prayer and in preparing themselves to receive the mind and will of the Lord.

United by their testimonies of the gospel, the valiant immigrants were, as Alma said of his converts, “Willing to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light; and willing to mourn with those who mourn; to stand as witnesses of God at all times, even until death, that they may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection and have eternal life.”


  • Histories of James and Ann Barlow
  • Aletta Hackett Barlow
  • December 2006 Ensign