We’re wrapping up our ten-part series (you read right–ten parts!) on the Handcart migration into Utah. One of the episodes is about two wagon companies, Hunt and Hodgetts, but it fits in with the handcarts because they accompanied the Willie and Martin companies and suffered right along with them. Several of the historians that we interviewed have said that if it weren’t for those two wagon companies, we wouldn’t be talking about the great rescue but of the great tragedy in which most, if not all of the Willie and Martin travelers, had died. So why don’t we talk more about Hunt and Hodgetts? Mel Bashore said this in our interview with him:
“This is nothing new today, to have them be forgotten. Fifty years after those handcart companies came into the valley, the handcart company survivors, in 1906, planned to have a jubilee celebration, a 50-year celebration where those survivors would get together and remember the hardships, the suffering, and as they planned it, they sent out word in the newspapers for the handcart survivors to get in touch, and write things up, to gather for this reunion.
“Well, one of the members of one of these wagon companies wrote a letter to the organizer of this reunion, this jubilee, and said, ‘I think we’re forgetting the wagon companies.’ And suggested, ‘Why can’t those people in the Hodgetts and Hunt–there are survivors of those wagon companies who played a big part in this story–attend this jubilee celebration, too?’ And I think that did, in fact, happen. I think they included them. But for too long, these wagon companies have just been forgotten and they shouldn’t be because they were out there suffering the same conditions and for longer, even, than the handcart companies were.”