Abel Weaver Garr (1833 - 1899)

Abel Weaver History as found in various and scattered sources…

Martin and Willie Handcart[1]

By October 7, George D. Grant and William Kimball led the first rescue group of a half-dozen wagons loaded to overflowing with goods. They made good time and reached Fort Bridger on October 13. There they cached flour and other goods with the Mormons who owned the fort, thereby saving some of the provisions for the last leg of the return journey. Soon afterward they left Fort Bridger, braving the severe storms of the high Plains.

After a few more days of exhausting struggle, Joseph Young split the party and sent a wagon and a few men in advance to locate the handcart companies and notify them that a rescue effort was in progress. Young, Kimball, Grant, Abel Garr and Cyrus Wheelock pushed on ahead with a wagon and a few mounts.

But on October 19, even the rescuers were forced to stop and wait out a raging blizzard. The next day, James Willie and Joseph Elder wandered into their camp after a heroic march. Contact had finally been made with the handcart people. Within minutes the camp was struck, and the men hastened through the storm to find the starving and freezing members of the Willie Company.

Nine people in the company had been found dead that morning and dozens more were freezing. The only food remaining was two day's rations of crackers. Soon fires were burning, and potatoes and beef were cooking in soup pots. Blankets, buffalo robes and clothing were distributed. Chislett recorded the immediate effect the rescuers had on the miserable travelers: "That evening for the first time in quite a period, the songs of Zion were to be heard in the camp, and peals of laughter. The change seemed almost miraculous, so sudden was it from grave to gay, from sorrow to gladness."

William Kimball stayed with some provisions to nurse the Willie Company on toward Utah. George Grant and others left, through deepening snow, to find the Martin Company, believed to be at Devil's Gate.

Another week passed before Grant was forced to stop. His rescue party had passed Devil's Gate and was several days beyond the point where they had expected to find the Martin Company. Grant sent Young, Garr and Daniel W. Jones ahead with saddled horses and packed mules to make one final effort to locate Martin. Two days later, October 28, they located the Martin and Hodgett companies, both stranded for days in the snow. The Willie Company had been in bad enough condition, but now finding the Martin Company, Young and the others could find no words to describe the awful sight. Fifty-six people had already been lost. At first no one seemed to realize that rescue was at hand. Young had no food, only good news for the freezing travelers. The only thing left to do was to get the company moving again--which would be no easy task.

Jones and Garr left the Martin Company to find the Hunt wagon train, still two days east. After finding and getting the Hunt Company moving, they returned and helped lead the handcarters struggling up Avenue Hill toward the Sweetwater River. Jones captured the scene in his own words: "A condition of distress here met my eyes that I never saw before or since. There were old men pulling and tugging their carts, sometimes loaded with a sick wife or children--women pulling along sick husbands--little children six to eight years old struggling through the mud and snow. As night came on, the mud would freeze on their clothes and feet. There were two of us and hundreds needing help. What could we do?"

Far away in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young had wasted no time gathering and organizing a much greater effort. Some 250 wagons loaded with goods had already departed. The companies slowly struggling westward would soon meet the eastward-bound relief wagons--but not before still more died on the way. At Willow Creek, the Willie Company lost 15 people in one night.

On November 2, the Willie company survivors entered the valley, exhausted, but safe at last. The company had lost some 62 members. The Martin Company would arrive in broken groups through the end of November, with 130 to 150 fewer people than had started back in July. Many survivors would bear the scars of amputated feet, fingers and toes. Stories of individual efforts to help and rescue the handcart travelers would be told and retold for generations.

… Then, in the depth of her despair, she [Elizabeth Horrocks, 1826] records:

"It will be readily perceived that under such adverse circumstances I had become despondent. I was six or seven thousand miles from my native land, in a wild rocky mountain country, in a destitute condition, the ground covered with snow, the waters covered with ice, and I with three fatherless children with scarcely anything to protect them from the merciless storms. When I retired to bed that night, being the 27th of October, I had a stunning revelation. In my dream, my husband stood by me, and said, 'Cheer up, Elizabeth, deliverance is at hand.' The dream was fulfilled for the next day (Oct. 28, 1856). Joseph A. Young, Daniel Jones and Abel Garr galloped unexpectedly into camp, amid tears and cheers and smiles and laughter of the emigrants."

The rescue party sent from Salt Lake had begun to arrive, and none too soon. Elizabeth and her children arrived in Salt Lake City on November 30, 1856.[2]

History of Millville

Cache Valley was known to trappers at an early day and so named because many of them “cached” their furs at different points there. In 1855 Pres. Brigham Young influenced John T., William H., Abel W. and Benjamin F. Garr, who lived on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, and owned some stock, to locate in Cache Valley, taking their own stock with them and also to have charge of Church stock which had already been taken there.

They built three log cabins about 1 1/2 mile northwest of the present center of Millville. This stock was all, however, transferred to another location at the time of the “Move” in 1858.

In 1859 the actual settlement of this part of Cache Valley took place, although the Garr brothers had had some land surveyed by Jesse W. Fox at an earlier date. In the fall of 1859 Isaias Edwards from Tooele County located on the east side of Blacksmith's Fork and built the first saw mill in Cache Valley the following year (1860), which gave the place its name. Other settlers followed, and in 1860 Apostle Ezra T. Benson and Peter Maughan (who had been appointed presiding Bishop in Cache Valley) came to the new settlement and organized the saints there as a branch of the Church with Joseph Grafton Hovey as presiding Elder. About a dozen houses were built that year, erected in two rows opposite each other as a protection against Indians. In 1862 a log schoolhouse was built, which was also used as a meeting house until 1866, when a rock meeting house was erected. This was replaced by a more modern building in 1880.


[1] http://www.thehistorynet.com/WildWest/articles/1997/0697_text.htm  


(Compiled and written by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, dkenison@xmission.com) (Andrew Jenson, _LDS Biographical Encyclopedia_, 2:528-531)


Last updated Saturday, November 21, 2009