Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sarah Goode Marshall - First Handcart Company and Captain Ellsworth

Sarah Goode Marshall

Sarah Good Marshall
By Lulu Parry
(Typed as written)
Name: Sarah Good Marshall
Father’s Name: George Good
Mother’s Maiden: Selina Holder
Where Born: 2 Mar 1821
Where Born: Mitchelldean or Abbinhall, Glouchestershire, England
When Baptized: In the year of 1854
Married to: Thomas Marshall
Date: 7 May 1843
Where: Hereford, England by Wilford Parish
Where Endowed: 28 Sept 1874
Where Sealed: 27 Mar 1884
To Whom: Thomas Marshall
Where Died: Dayton, Oneida Co., Idaho Age 83 Date: 21 April 1904
Where Buried: Franklin, Idaho Cemetery Date: 26 April 1904

Important Events

A Sketch of the Life of
Sarah (Goode) Marshall
Sarah (Good) Marshall was the daughter of George Good and Selina Mary Ann Holder. She was born 2 March 1821 at Mitchelldean or Abbinhall, Glouchestershire, England.
While in her youth she learned the art of making kid gloves. Being deprived of scholastic education she always worked hard. Many times I’ve heard her say, “Idleness is the Devil’s workshop.” However, she became a great reader of the Bible and often remarked, “There is something more in the Bible than the Ministers understand.”

She heard the Gospel in her native land and often walked 20 miles with her baby in her arms to hear the Elders preach. This caused confusion in her home, as her husband opposed here bitterly and would often follow her to the meetings to cause a scene and disturbance, but she always was impressed by the sweet spirit, “Sarah you had better go, Tom is coming.” She would leave the meeting immediately and often took a severe whipping (from her husband) before reaching home.

Sarah Good was married to Thomas Marshall 7 May 1843. During the early part of their married life they lived comfortable and happy until she became interested in the Gospel, thus she became a victim of persecution and continued to live under these conditions until the death of her husband which was in the summer of 1854, leaving her with six children and penniless.

Her dreams of coming to Zion seemed utterly impossible but she sought Divine help in the great undertaking and worked very hard to save means for her migration. During the day, she worked as ladies maid and at night she made gloves and in two years she had saved enough to realized the desires of her heart.

She had many friends as she always lived an honest life and was well respected by all. The night before leaving her native land Grandmother’s relatives and close friends had planned a party to show their esteem and respect for her. Some of the presiding Elders of the British Mission were invited guests at this party.

Unfortunately, the spirit of discouragement spread like contagion among the members who were thus assembled. They began to gather close around her using their powers persuasion in every way trying to get her not to leave telling her she would lose her children and probably her own life on the way. One of the Elders overheard the discouraging remarks, he arose to his feet and by the power of God -- raising his hand over his head--he exclaimed, I will promise Sister Marshall -- in the Name of Israels God -- that she shall go to Zion and shall not lose one of her children by the way.

Painting of ship Samuel Curling

The following day, Saturday, April 19, 1856, my Grandmother Marshall, with her little family boarded the ship (Samuel Curling) and sailed from Liverpool, England, under the direction of Dan Jones. They arrived at Boston, Mass., May 23, 1856, being on the water about five weeks and from there they went by rail to Iowa City where preparations were under way for the long journey across the plains.

Captain Edmund Ellsworth
 This was the first Great Handcart Company from foreign nations, made up mostly of British Isles organized with Edmund Ellsworth as Captain. Grandmother procured a handcart and asked Captain Ellsworth if she could join with this Company in crossing the plains. The Company was large and this was the first attempt in crossing with handcart and he answered, “Sister Marshall, it would be unreasonable for you to expect such a thing. You a widow with six small children, you would only be a hinderance to the Company.” Her answer was, “Well Captain Ellsworth, I’m going and I’ll beat you there.”

Their journey through the state of Iowa was very difficult, but they must become accustomed to the hardships and exhaustion which comes through over work and little nourishment. Alone, she, most of all must become accustomed to being the one who must sacrafice, the one who must endure patiently, the one who must have explicit confidence in their Captain. She must learn to submit to his will and obey Company regulations without question.

After three months and seventeen days of trying hardships, enduring hunger, thirst, and fatigue and ceaseless toil -- pulling her handcart the entire distance -- the end of their journey was near at hand.

The night before entering the Salt Lake Valley Grandmother asked the Captain if she could arise early the next morning and start ahead of the Company, with her little family as this would be their last day of travel. Permission was granted and very early the next morning she -- with her little brood started out.

After traveling some distance and being out of sight of the Company, she discovered some men on horse back coming in her direction. As they came nearer they started yelling. Thinking them to be Indians Grandmother gathered her frightened children about her. The horsemen seeing her terror, stopped their noise and rose quietly down where she was. They were scouts sent out from Salt Lake City to meet the Saints as the settlers in the Valley had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this Company. These men assisted Grandmother by taking her children on their horses to the settlement thereby leaving her free to pull the handcart. She and her children were the first in the Company to arrive in Salt Lake City. Thus her statement to Captain Ellsworth became prophecy, “I’m going and I’ll beat you there.”

When she had left Iowa City she didn’t realize the tedious journey and trials and hardships she would encounter. Food was rationed out to them -- only two ounces of flour was allowed for each member of the family a day. At night they took turns in using the bake oven.

The members of the Company had retired for the night, and Grandmother was no doubt very lonely listening to the strange night cries of the beasts and birds while preparing her rationed food for the next days journey. It was about 11 o’clock, a young man came to her and said, “Will you please give me something to eat? I’m starving to death.” Knowing that she was taking food from her children she shared what she had with him. I have heard Grandmother say, “I have thanked the Lord many times for sharing my food with this young man, for he was found dead in his bed the next morning. If I had not done so my conscience would have condemned me the rest of my life.”

After camping at night, her first impulse was to look for her children as they would get scattered among the Company during the days travel. Sometimes it was late in the evening before making their camp for they had to travel until they found water.

One night Grandmother was horrified when she discovered her little girl (Tryphenia) was missing. The child was only 8 years of age. Immediately she reported it to Captain Ellsworth and said, “I cannot rest until my child is found.” The Captain tried to discourage her but to no avail. At once he asked for volunteers to go back and search for her. As no one volunteered, he went back some distance with her as it was after dark.

Tryphenia Marshall
They passed by where the child had fallen to sleep. After going back some distance they were forced to return to the Company because of hungry wolves which were encircling around them. After a while the child awoke and startled by finding the Company had gone and she was lost, she started to run. By following the tracks through the sagebrush where it had been trampled down by the handcarts she would stop when tired and put her ear to the ground to see if she could hear any sound. This was one of the instructions they were to follow if in trouble. Tryphenia did this a number of times.

Finally, discovering a light, started to run towards it. When she got close to it -- not knowing for sure whether it was Indians or the Company -- she crawled on her hands and knees into camp, discovering it was the Company, which filled her heart with joy.

Poor Grandmother hungry and tired had traveled late into the night until they came to water. What was she to do, take a chance on her life or return to camp worried and frantic. Approaching the camp, they heard shouts and to their great joy they found everybody rejoicing because the little girl was safe in camp. Grandmother shed tears of joy and thankfulness and rejoicing that words couldn’t express.

The little girl’s own story was as follows: I walked along with a man all afternoon. He sat down by the wayside to rest. He laid over on his elbow resting his head in his hand and went to sleep. I sat down by him and after resting for a while I was afraid I would lose sight of the Company and I started out alone. Dark cam on and I found that I was lost. Finally I saw a fire and walked toward it, and as I came near it I was afraid it was Indians. I crawled on my hands and knees so they would not see me and when I was sure it was our Company I raised to my feet and came in.

The next morning some of the men went back in search of the man and found him resting as the little girl said. But he had passed away. They dug a grave and buried him at his place of resting. This man was an Italian and could not speak English, consequently he and the child had no conversation.

The second story goes as follows: One day after the journey had resumed and following a short rest, Mrs. Marshall missed one of her little girls. She became frantic and sick with fear for the child. A search among the children of the Company was hurriedly made. Inquiries were made regarding the child and her disappearance, but no information could be gained. It seemed no one had missed the child. Mrs. Marshall then appealed to the Captain of the Company and asked permission to go back over the trail in search of her baby. He pondered and stared at her and then said, “You must not leave the Company, too much time has already been lost and all must be on their way.” Her heart was filled with anguish, her sorrow and anxiety was almost more than she could endure. Sympathetic mothers in the Company wept and tried to comfort her. They uttered silent prayers for her and her baby. She obeyed the Captain and slowly she pushed her little cart along the weary trail. Every step separating her farther and farther from her child.

At last halt was called and their days journey ended. Her great mental anguish and suffering made her ill, but after a scant supper had been eaten she carefully tucked her five remaining children in their camp beds and then she waited patiently for darkness to fall. When all was quiet and she was alone she slipped away back over the trail which she had just traveled, hoping, praying, listening, weeping, she often called aloud to her child only to be mocked by the echo of her own voice and dead silence of the prairie.

She plodded wearily on but her fear was consuming her hope and the faith that she would find her little girl became weaker.

Her strength was failing and she was almost exhausted. It seemed that she would fail, she was lost. Alone, weary, and sick she staggered on and then out of the shadows of the night she came upon her babe lying on the trail. Then came the realization that she was rewarded. Her little one lay exhausted at her feet.

Mrs. Marshall knelt beside her sobbing, sleeping little child and on the lonely prairie trail, thanked God. She knew that the prayers she had uttered during that day and night had been heard and answered.

She hugged her babe to her. She could hear the howls of the wolves and the hoot of the owl. After a very short rest she nestled her sleeping baby’s head to her breast and began once more plodding back over the trail to the Company. Just as the Company was about to start on the days journey, Mrs. Marshall appeared in camp baby safe and the heroic mother feeling that she had rescued her baby from the perils of the wilderness.

Handcart Pioneer Marker on Sarah's Monument
Several days after her arrival in Salt Lake City Grandmother was washing and meditating on the hazardous journey crossing the plains and her words to Captain Ellsworth came to her. It was then she realized her statement had become a prophecy. She was not in want for the necessities of life as long as her family remained in the fort for their meals were cooked and brought to them.

My Grandmother was the age of 34 when she left England. Her children were as follows:
Lavina Age 12
Selina “ 10
Tryphenia “ 8
Louisa “ 6
George “ 4
Sarah “ 2

This information was taken from the S Curing boat records by Lulu Parry, a cousin to Delilah Pike.

Editor's Note:  Source of painting of S. Curling:


  1. Your information is appreciated and certainly clarifies some existing questions and thoughts. It compliments Gwendolyn's book "Sarah Goode Marshall", providing additional insight for Great Grandmother's posterity. Phil Wasden & Marlene Wasden Cupit

  2. This sums up her story very nicely. I'm reading "Faith Greater Than Pain" by Lynn Cleland right now. It's all about her trek and his commemorative trek. It's a great read. I'd highly recommend it to all of Grandma Sarah's descendants.

  3. Would love to make contact with our American family. My parents joined in the uk in 1962. We were unaware of Sarah's story until this year. We descend from sarah' s brother line.

    1. Peter, how wonderful to hear from you!! I would love to get to know you and share information. Please feel free to use my email address So glad you found my blog. Cousin Georgia

  4. Thank you for this information! I know it was posted a while ago, but I had to comment. Sarah is my great+ grandmother and I am from the line of her daughter Selina. I love reading about Sarah, her trials, and her faith. It gives me strength knowing she is my grandmother.

  5. This is wonderful. Just read it. Thank you. I too am a descendent of Selina Marshall through my Grandmother Hatch. My name is Susan Nielson Swann