Nicholaus Patterson Gourley Teeples
1844-1938 with her husband Sidney.
--Picture from Utah Territorial Statehouse Museum, Fillmore, Utah
A Visit With Mrs. Teeples
The Great Depression of the 1930s wasn't an especially pleasant time for many people. However, the Federal Programs that were created to deal with the widespread unemployment, though criticized at the time as wastes of money, not only built up our national and state park systems, but provided meaningful work for many of those fortunate enough to have a typewriter and an interest in history.
One such person was Mary Lyman Reeve, who in 1936 interviewed a 91-year old handcart pioneer. Though the account of the following interview has only a slight Hickman connection (which isn't revealed until the end), you are likely to discover that Mrs. Teeples has a fascinating story to tell.
You won't be traveling among strangers as you read; she mentions Ben Tasker, who was a witness to the Butcher-Cotton gunfight, John D. Lee, who served in the Utah Territorial Legislature with our Bill Hickman, Mr. Beckstead (probably Thomas Beckstead, who was with Bill Hickman a co-owner of the Jordan mining claim with Bill Hickman and others). Furthermore, the doctor who at one time told Mrs. Teeples she was dying was likely our Dr. George Washington Hickman, who was at that time one of the only two medical doctors in Utah County.
You are provided with Mrs. Teeples' perspective on historical events as well: the 1856 handcart disaster, the Utah War, the Walker and Black Hawk Indian wars, the massacre at Mountain Meadows.
The notes Ms. Reeve collected in her interview, which forms the second half of the document, were compiled to form the narrative you are about to read. She had two lists of questions: one of general questions asked of pioneers, and another of specific questions asked of handcart pioneers who had been victims of the Martin-Willey handcart disaster of 1856. The mimeographed instructions she worked from in the latter case looked like this:
UTAH WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION
FEDERAL WRITERS' PROJECT
HISTORICAL RECORDS SURVEY
TO ALL FIELD WORKERS If there are any handcart pioneers in your vicinity, please interview them and obtain answers to the list of questions printed below. If you are able to expand any of the questions or add new questions in your particular case, do so. Put the answers to these questions on a separate sheet of paper, with numbers to correspond with the question concerned. Many of these pioneers are very infirm and tire easily. Do not make your first visit too long. It may be necessary to return several times to get the information while memories are being refreshed.
QUESTIONS FOR HANDCART PIONEERS
1. Full name and where born? Date of birth? 2. When did you leave for America? 3. Who had charge of the emigrating party? 4. How many in your family party? 5. How much money did the family have? 6. On what ship did you travel? 7. Describe experiences between landing and arrival at end of railroad. 8. Where did you start from with handcarts? 9. What time of year? 10. Why was the handcart company delayed? Why did they have to make 11. Did they expect to get through before snow fell? 12. How many in your company? 13. Who was the captain? 14. What church officials were with the company? 15. What other companies did you travel with or near on the trail? 16. Describe in detail daily experiences on the journey, as for instance, one complete day's travel, on any section of the route, from starting in the morning until camping at night. 17. Give any humorous incidents you can remember. 18. When did you first discover that troubles were ahead? 19. What was the cause of the handcart disaster? 20. Who was to blame? 21. Was there a shortage of food? 22. Describe in detail some of the troubles in the snow, near Devil's Gate, Rock Creek, Martin's Hollow, etc. 23. What excuses did the leaders give for the disaster? 24. What attempts were made to rescue the party? 25. How many died in your company? 26. Did they freeze or starve? 27. What was done for them when they arrived in Salt Lake Valley? 28. Where did you settle? 29. Give any other information you remember, any thing which impressed itself upon your memory at the time. 30. Whom did you marry? When? Where?
--Bancroft Library, University of California,
Utah and the Mormons Collection,
LDS Archives, Ms 8305 Reel 10
To read Ms. Reeve's interviews with Mrs. Teeples, click here. To return to the Hickman Family index page, click here.