The guest speaker for the February meeting of the Morgan Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers was Darrell Turner.
Turner is a graduate of Morgan High School, where he played basketball and baseball. He and his wife, Colleen Stephens, have five children and 15 grandchildren. He attended Utah State University, where he received both bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics and science education. He and his wife live in Perry, Utah, where they serve as temple ordinance workers in the Brigham City Temple.
Turner spoke about an early Morgan pioneer, Daniel Robinson. Daniel Robinson was Turner’s great grandfather, and was the captain of the 9th handcart company of saints coming west. He was born in 1831 in Quincy, Penn., the fifth of 11 children. He married Rachael when she was of a young age. She was hesitant to join the Church however, so her mother appeared to her and told her that the LDS Church was the only true church. This took place on Feb. 15. On March 15, she was baptized.
Her daughter died on a train en route to Utah and had to be taken away by a porter. She had no idea where her daughter was buried. They came the rest of the way by handcart, where their family made up 20 members of that handcart company. His was one of the last companies to come by handcart. The company included 235 English saints in 43 handcarts, along with a few wagons.
They left Florence, Neb., on June 6, and arrived in Salt Lake City on Aug. 27, making it 11 weeks for the journey by handcart. A blessing was the fact that there was a low mortality rate due to better weather. Total cost per individual was $22.30, along with a charge of $14.50 to take the train. Twenty pounds of baggage were all that was allowed.
Their carts were well built, but they did have to grease the axles three times per week so they wouldn’t break down. These handcarts were different from the usual ones in that they had a single tongue with a crossbar at the end for two people to stand behind and push the cart, instead of the usual pulling. The handcarts were circled each evening to form a corral for the animals used to pull the wagons. When they crossed the Sweetwater River, they had a treat of fish inasmuch as they described the bottom being covered with fish that were easy to catch. This was a pleasant change from their normal meager meals.
One time they came to a fork in the road and thought the one to the north was the one they needed to take. The supply wagons coming after took the south fork, so it took a couple of days to turn around and catch up with Robinson’s company. Along the way, one 6-year-old died, and one baby was born. When they arrived in Utah, they gave their handcarts to the church so they could be used again if the need arose.
In the fall of 1863, they moved to Morgan County, Daniel was 29. His home was a refuge utilized during polygamy and other challenging times.
Daniel was an excellent violin player, so he was utilized around the campfire at night as they were coming West. He was also in demand at local functions. In addition, he would gather his family and play the violin when he was home in Utah. An interesting note was the fact that Turner indicated that if the family had remained in Quincy, they would have had a much different life. They were only a few miles from where the Battle of Gettysburg took place.
Some facts regarding life after they moved to North Morgan: Their homes were made of logs with sod grass for the roof covering. During rainstorms, they said it rained harder inside the cabin than outside, with the water coming through the roof. They had a rock chimney and only one window in their home. Their bed was made up of sticks with a tic mattress. They made their own clothes. They made brooms out of reed grass. One little boy said he would throw the broom into the fire each night, because he knew he was going to make another one the next day. Seven of their children died, leaving five remaining.
Daniel served in the bishopric and the Sunday school presidency. He was 76 years old when he died on March 25, 1907.