Posted by Carolyn J. Christensen, 30 Jun 2010 - 5th Great Grand Daugher and great admirer of Hannah Hardy Eckersley Crompton.
(Third husband of Adah Lucy Steel Wrigley Job ; sealing line)
Robert Stoddart, son of William and Margaret Alpine Stoddart, was born in Brampton, England, July 9, 1839. He was the 2nd child in a family of thirteen children.
Robert’s parent accepted the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which were brought to them by missionaries in England. The family was part of a company of Latter-day Saints who left Liverpool England on the sailing vessel “Caravan” on February 18, 1856 under the leadership of Daniel Tyler. Robert was 17 at the time. They arrived in New York March 25, 1856. (1) They were seven months and eight days being tossed upon the ocean waves, riding half-way across the American continent on railroad cars, waiting in Iowa City for supplies and handcarts in order to walk, pull and push their food, clothing and supplies the remaining 1300 miles to the Valleys of the Mountains. They arrived in Salt Lake City on September 26, 1856.
These first handcart companies, composed of children, women and men were to demonstrate the feasibility of walking across the plains. The result of their trip was heralded among the Saints on both continents. Near the site of the “This is the Place” monument, they were met by a delegation from the city, with Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and other authorities, led by a band; they were escorted to their destination.
The Stoddart family came in the first handcart company to reach Salt Lake City. They left Iowa City Jun 9, under the captaincy of Edmund Ellsworth. They, William age 43 and Margaret age 38, had with them seven children, Caleb (19), Robert (17), Jane (13), Sarah (11), Hannah (9), Mary (4), and Margaret (2). The rest of the thirteen children were born in Utah.
Robert was seventeen years old when he had the daily task of assisting in pushing the handcart 1300 miles. He enjoyed the handcart trip; the traveling, the adventures, his duties and the fellowship of the other young men. He experienced the wading of rivers in transporting luggage from shore to shore. It was his job to rustle wood and buffalo chips for the camp fires. There were two cows in the company and there were only two boys who could milk and Robert was one of them. He was given a pint of Milk each meal for doing the milking and his mother said that was their salvation.
Starting the journey in the early summer they did not suffer from the cold, but they didn’t have enough provisions. They were allowed a quarter of a pound of flour a day for each one so they made it into biscuits and divided them into three parts for breakfast, dinner, and supper. That was not much flour, 2 ¼ pounds for nine people.
They had many narrow escapes from the danger on the way. At one time stampeding buffalo were coming toward the train (of handcarts). It appeared to be certain death, but all had prayers in their hearts and on their lips and the herd divided, part going one way and part the other. Robert said the earth rocked with the weight of them. During the journey they encountered some severe storms from which they had little protection. One man was skilled and Mrs. Stoddart and her son Caleb were knocked down by lightening. One young man came near drowning and Robert went into the river and saved him.
One of Robert’s uncles who was in the company died at Green River. They said he starved to death. He would not eat until he saw that his children had had enough. When he did eat a little meat, it gave him dysentery and he died.
The company arrived in Salt Lake City the latter part of September and was met by President Brigham Young and others of the church leaders and a band. This was no small feat they had accomplished – to cross 1300 miles of wilderness with handcarts. (1)
Robert had walked barefooted most of the way across the plains and his feet were so hard they would turn a prickly pear. The opportunity of immigrating to America was considered a rare privilege. He had been in the valley but a few weeks when he volunteered to return and assist the much belated Willey and Martin companies. He crossed the plains either five or seven times. He came home just before President Abraham Lincoln was killed. Robert loved the experience of being on the plains, and all that it entailed.
The Stoddart family settled in Springtown, Sanpete Co. Robert took part in the Black Haws Indian War, being one of three men who volunteered from Spring City, then known as Springtown. In the year 1868, under the command of Colonel John L. Ivie, he was with some other members of the company who were sent down into Paiute County to rescue a number of men who were mining in the locality and were surrounded by Indians. The heroic efforts of the rescuers saved the men and they were brought back safely to the settlements. Robert was what might be called a minute-main and rode on several occasions to warn people and to take them to places of safety, risking his own life in so doing.
Robert Stoddart was a likeable man; he was easy and pliable in the company of friends as well at strangers. He excelled in his vocation as cook and hotel proprietor, and became well known along the Union Pacific line.
September 8, 1874 (age 25) he married Ada Lucy Steel, and that fall they moved to Lehi, Utah Co. The next year they moved to York, Juab Co., which was then the terminus of the Union Pacific railroad. The railroad moved its terminus to Juab and the Stoddart family followed. They later moved to Provo and lived at the station when the Denver and Rio Grande line was built. Mrs. Stoddart’s health was not good in Provo so they moved to American Fork and ran the boarding house at the Lehi sugar Factory during its second run. In 1893 (age 54), Mr. Stoddart was asked to manage the Union Hotel in Lehi. Although he died just a few months later, his wife continued to manage the hotel for 13 years.
In November, 1983 Robert Stoddart died leaving his wife with a family of ten children.
This is a brief history of my (Lucy Stoddart) parents. Many changes have taken place since their time, but I carry on a lot of happiness passed on to me by the folks who were young ninety years ago. Their love still shelters me; their way of life sustains me still. Odd how the years sift out the waste of life and save only the best for our inheritance.
1. Jensen: Chronology, p. 55