James G. Willie knew the trek would be arduous when he left Iowa City in July 1856, leading 500 handcart pioneers on a 1,300-mile journey across the plains.
But he could not have known that his people would run out of food while still hundreds of miles from Salt Lake City nor that the winter of 1856 would begin in the middle of October with prolonged, severe storms. Sixty-nine members of his company would die along the way. Yet from this tragedy emerged triumphant stories of personal endurance, courage, heroism, and unwavering faith.
Follow Me to Zion recounts 20 compelling stories of members of the Willie handcart company and their rescuers. Dozens of full-color images by artist Julie Rogers enrich this keepsake volume, which pays tribute to the men, women, and children who have become enduring witnesses of the power of faith and sacrifice.
Here you will find excerpts from their own accounts of the journey, learn what those faithful pioneers did after reaching the Salt Lake Valley, and read reflections on their lives by descendants.
The simple words “Follow Me to Zion,” cross-stitched onto small pieces of fabric kept in the journal of a handcart pioneer, are an invitation that still calls to us today.
The stories and paintings in this beautiful volume can inspire us to live true to our faith and reach out to help others do likewise.
This book also contains the most comprehensive, up-to-date listing of members of the Willie handcart company.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Andrew D. Olsen is an editor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the author ofThe Price We Paid: The Extraordinary Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Pioneers. Andrew and his wife, Linda, are the parents of 3 children.
Jolene Spendlove Allphin has a love for the 1856 pioneers and rescuers that continues to grow. She has published nearly 300 biographical sketches of them in Tell My Story, Too. Jolene and her husband, Michael, are the parents of 11 children.
Julie Boswell Rogers is an acclaimed artist who has won many awards. Her art has been featured in Church publications, visitors’ centers, and the Church History Museum. The book Emma, the Elect Lady contains many of her paintings of Joseph and Emma Smith. Julie and her husband, Russell, are the parents of 5 children.
This is a remarkable book. Not only is it beautifully designed with elegant pages and gorgeous paintings, but the stories are touching and truly inspiring. The suffering endured by the Willie handcart pioneers is heart-wrenching, my heart ached for the hunger, cold, and exhaustion that they faced, especially during the last part of the journey. But the sacrifices they made didn't end when they arrived in Salt Lake City. Many of them went on to make more difficult sacrifices later on in their lives. I appreciated hearing more about their lives after arriving in Utah. It was nice to put their experiences in context. Direct quotes from the pioneers themselves add just the right touch to a powerful story. Highly recommended.
I am currently working as a elementary school librarian which I love. I enjoy sharing books on my blogs of which I have two (Geo Librarian and LDS and Lovin' it). I also review for School Library Journal.