Pioneer Sacrifice: Story of Three 18 Year Old Boys

Pioneer Sacrifice: Story of Three 18 Year Old Boys

Excerpt from the talk titled: Four B’s for Boys by Gordon B. Hinckley


I should like to tell you of three eighteen-year-old boys. In 1856 more than a thousand of our people, some of them perhaps your forebears, found themselves in serious trouble while crossing the plains to this valley. Because of a series of unfortunate circumstances, they were late in getting started. They ran into snow and bitter cold in the highlands of Wyoming. Their situation was desperate, with deaths occurring every day.

President Young learned of their condition as the October general conference was about to begin. He immediately called for teams, wagons, drivers, and supplies to leave to rescue the bereft Saints. When the first rescue team reached the Martin Company, there were too few wagons to carry the suffering people. The rescuers had to insist that the carts keep moving.

When they reached the Sweetwater River on November 3, chunks of ice were floating in the freezing water. After all these people had been through, and in their weakened condition, that river seemed impossible to cross. It looked like stepping into death itself to move into the freezing stream. Men who once had been strong sat on the frozen ground and wept, as did the women and children. Many simply could not face that ordeal.

And now I quote from the record: “Three eighteen-year-old boys belonging to the relief party came to the rescue, and to the astonishment of all who saw, carried nearly every member of the ill-fated handcart company across the snowbound stream. The strain was so terrible, and the exposure so great, that in later years all the boys died from the effects of it. When President Brigham Young heard of this heroic act, he wept like a child, and later declared publicly, ‘that act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end.’” (Solomon F. Kimball, Improvement Era, Feb. 1914, p. 288.)

Mark you, these boys were eighteen years of age at the time. And, because of the program then in effect, they likely were holders of the Aaronic Priesthood. Great was their heroism, sacred the sacrifice they made of health and eventually of life itself to save the lives of those they helped.

They are part of the heritage that lies behind you of the Aaronic Priesthood. Be true, my young brethren, be true to that great inheritance.