Part I is a work of fiction and other than actual historical figures, the characters are fictional.
The events in part II about the handcart journey are offered as more or less accurate and in sequence. A more personal and significant source to me came about after I discovered, during the writing and while scanning the roster of emigrants in Edward Martin's Company, the names of Mary Jarvis Crossley (45) with two sons and three daughters: Mary Ann (23), Joseph (19), Hannah (15), Sarah (12), Ephraim (5) and Mary Ann's son William (1).
At that point something changed for me in the writing of this story. It suddenly became extremely personal and, as I had already invested quite a bit of energy in trying to write about the handcart journey, I acquired a new and more powerful sense of heritage.
Mary Jarvis Crossley was the mother of Ephraim Jarvis Crossley who made the handcart journey at the age of five.
Ephraim Jarvis Crossley became the father of Joseph Ephraim Crossley, who became the father of Joseph Heber Crossley, who was the father of Cora Lanor Crossley, my mother.
Mary Jarvis Crossley is therefore my Great Great Great Grandmother.
Up until the time of discovering this information, I knew very little about my mother's side of the family; where they came from, when and how they joined the LDS Church and how they came to reside in Idaho.
I found a family member, Hope Hayes of Soda Springs, Idaho, who could answer my questions about my Crossley ancestors and also sent me a most precious package of information upon which the events and activities of my fictional characters were based.
I received life stories of James Crossley (Mary's husband and my Great Great Great Grandfather), Mary Crossley and Sarah Crossley Sessions (age 12 during the handcart journey), diary entries from James Crossley and, extremely precious and useful, diary entries from the journal of 19-year old Joseph for May and June, 1856 when the family crossed the Atlantic on the ship Horizon.
In the novel, Rose Blake's journal for May and June, 1856 is based entirely on what is in Joseph's (his last name was Smith as he was Mary's son by a prior marriage) diary.
Joseph died at Martin's Cove and the incident in the novel when Abigail see's wolves attack Albert's body is based on Mary Crossley seeing wolves go after the deceased Joseph as the emigrants were leaving Martin's Cove and she gazed back at her son's body.
The handcart story became a story I have inherited; became in that way my own story, helping me, more than a hundred years later, come to a greater sense of who I am.
Part of my mother's side of the family came to Utah in handcarts and part of my father's side of the family, namely Anson Call who is named toward the end of the rescue, participated in helping them get to Utah.
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Words and acts of actual historical persons are quoted and described according to the reference materials utilized in the crafting of the story.
All characters named were actual people with the exception of Turner Cole, Joshua Cole, Jacob Hannah, and the Blake family, Reverend Charles, Oliver Leach, Tommy Brown, Sabina Cole and the Jenkins family which was named in one fictional conversation.
The Rescue Team characters were all actual historical personages as were Edward Martin, James Willie, Franklin D. Richards, Levi Savage and the emigrant families named in the novel.
The words of Brigham Young are quoted based on historical quotations.
Reference works included:
Handcarts to Zion 1856-60, by Leroy R. and Ann W. Hagen (Arthur H. Clark Co., Glendale CA, 1981);
Rescue of the 1856 Handcart Companies, a Charles Red Monograph in
Western History (distributed by Signature Books, Salt Lake City, UT, 1982);
The Latter Day Saints Emigrants' Guide by William Clayton (printed in St. Louis, MO 1848 and edited by Stanley B. Kimball//The Patrice Press, 1983).