Who Came to the 2006 Celebration
We have over 100 living history reenactors, entertainers and volunteers for this historical and educational event
from over 10 states. Additional particpants signed up for the trek are coming from such far away places as New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and California.
In the interest of space, we are limiting this site to only those coming from out of state with
a few exceptions. Some of our confirmed authors, guest speakers, entertainers and living history
persons and groups are listed below. As pictures and biographies are available they will be
posted here on the web in random order. To keep this a FREE event,
all of the below individuals and groups have willingly and freely donated their time and talents! Withut their
support, this event could not have happened. This will be the largest number of handcarts that have ever
been assembled in one place in Nebraska since the handcart pioneers went through! We even have
one of the only three known handcarts to exist coming for the event from Idaho. It is our desire to remember the pioneer
era and sacrifices of the early pioneers. We sincerly hope you attend this National Event here in Kearney. Come and
experience pulling handcarts, listening to pioneer stories, singing, eating and dancing, it is all HERE !
Paul Willie from Utah, is a direct descendent of Capt. James Willie the leader of the ill fated 4th handcart company. He will be the leader of our Saturday recreated handcart trek.
Tony Clapier from Idaho is bringing one of only 3 known original handcarts that crossed the plains. His is fully operational, and will be the lead handcart on the trek.
He will be talking about how the handcarts were made.
This is the Stanley handcart it is named for Robert Stanley who was the last family member to own it, It was built by Chauncy Webb and was the only known handcart to continue on west to Oregon. It is a style know as a Welsh cart and was called in the handcart companies a "covered cart" or "family cart" We are thrilled to be able bring this artifact "back" to where it once trod. I will cover the history of the carts and of course some interesting facts on how and why the immigrants came west.
Dixon Ford from Utah will be bringing his TWO huge 3,000 lb. Red Durham Oxen, Thor and Zeus.
Thor and Zeus will be pulling an antique covered wagon to accompany the handcarts here at the 150th Handcart Pioneer Celebration in June, as was done on the Mormon Trail. Every handcart company had several oxen drawn wagons hauling most of their heavy food supplies. Guests may have the opportunity to drive the oxen with the covered wagon and see them perform. They are gentle enough for children to pet and be around. These oxen were in the 2002 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Utah.
Thor and Zeus are 11 years old, almost 6 feet tall, and weigh around 3,000 lbs each. These historically correct trained oxen are so well trained, gentle, and obedient, that they need no halters, reins, nose rings, or ropes to control them. They obey by verbal commands, subtle whip signals, or only by Dixon's body position and movements. He will show guests how oxen communicate between each other, and himself, and how he communicates back to them in a silent, but very sofisticated means.
Dixon Ford's Grandfather, Martin Ford, taught him how to train and drive oxen the way the early Pioneers did when he was 10 years old, when a milk cow they owned, gave birth to a set of twin bull calves. One summer day, when the well trained calves were around six months old, Dixon decided to go down to his Grandfather's farm, and drive them around. When he got there, he saw the calves had been butchered by one of his uncles, and was hanging in a tree. He decided then and there, that some day, he would be able to afford to own oxen, and keep them until they died of natural causes.
After partly retiring from a career of inventing medical products, Dixon now devotes half of his time to demonstrating his four teams of historical correct Red Durham Oxen at historic events, and using them in LDS Church films. Later in the summer he will again be recreating Mr. Meeker crossing the Oregon Trail and will be at Fort Kearny on Saturday August 5th, 2006.
All of his sixteen Great Grandparents came to Utah by way of oxen drawn covered wagons, or pulling handcarts.
On the left is Jane (Jennie) Thompson McKensie Allred, Great Grandmother of Oxen Drover, Dixon Ford, on the right is her friend, Ella Maxwell.
Both came on the 8th Handcart Company, in 1859. Jennine left Florence Nebraska in June of 1859, both came from Scotland.
In her diary, Jennie describes several incidents that happened on the way, One incident was when an Indian chief wanted to trade ponies for a white girl, "And none being for sale, they left".
Another is when the handcart men tried to shoot a buffalo, but were unable to, because of their small bore guns. Some Indians were laughing and watching, and later said they would get a buffalo for them, which they did the next day. For this, the Indians were given coffee and bread.
In her diary, Jennie relates the following incident: "One day, an Indian woman came ! into camp, and wanted to trade her papoose for a baby that belonged to the John Y. Smith family. Mrs. Smith said the baby was not for trade, and told the Indian woman to leave, which she did. A short time later, the mother noticed her baby was missing, and the papoose was lying in the tent in it's place. The alarm was sounded, and the Indian woman was soon overtaken, and the baby returned to it's grateful mother. The papoose was freely given to the Indian mother, and she was told to leave."
Jane "Jennie" Thompson McKensie married Martin Carol Allred shortly after arriving in Salt Lake City. They lived the rest of their lives in Wallsburg, Wasatch County, where Jane was the first school teacher in the valley.
William Hartley Ph.D. from Brigham Young University, Utah and author about the Mormon Trail.
Bill Hartley, a history professor at BYU and popular speaker, has published widely about the Mormon Trail and those who traveled it.
He is founding president of the Mormon Trails Association and former president of the Mormon History Association. His book about history
and places in Iowa and Nebraska, including the Mormon Trails, is being published this spring as Sacred places: Iowa and Nebraska, A
Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites. His gggreatgrandfather Edward Bunker' was captain of the 3rd handcart company in 1856.
William Hill, from New York, author of many children and adult books on the Mormon Trail.
Bill Hill is a retired high school history teacher and author of numerous books for children and adults on the western trails – three of them on
the Mormon Trail. The Mormon Trail, Yesterday and Today is being republished by the Utah State University Press. Bill lives in New York, but his
heart is in the West. Some of his ancestors migrated to Manhattan, Kansas in the 1870s. As a very young child Bill would visit his grandparents
on their farm every summer, and he’s been “headin’ west” ever since.
For more than thirty years, he and his family have traveled the trails, bouncing over trail ruts - usually by car, but sometimes hiking, riding,
or canoeing, depending on the trail he was researching. His “Yesterday and Today” series of books presently cover the Oregon, California, Mormon,
Santa Fe and Lewis and Clark trails. His seven activity books for both primary and secondary aged children and teachers cover the same trails. His
two newest activity books, due out this year, are on the Pony Express Trail. He is looking forward to this celebration and meeting friends and other
trail enthusiasts, both young and old.
Gregory Franzwa, author of books on the Oregon Trail and Lincoln Highway.
Gregory Franzwa always seems to be starting things. Back in 1948 he started a little dance band that put him through the University of Iowa.
In 1955 he started his own public relations firm in St. Louis, and that enabled him to start his publishing firm, Patrice Press, in 1967.
The following year he started his studies on the Oregon Trail, resulting in publication of The Oregon Trail Revisited. And when he saw
the trail was in danger of destruction in 1982 he started the Oregon-California Trails Association.
Nineteen years ago in January he started his quarterly journal of opinion, folio, which delights in butchering the purveyors of bad
history and big government. And in 1992, a year after he moved his company from St. Louis to Tucson, he saw that the Lincoln Highway was
threatened with destruction, so he started the current Lincoln Highway Association.
And in 1995 he started his Lincoln Highway state-by-state series. The fifth book, The Lincoln Highway: Nevada, coauthored by
Jesse G. Petersen, appeared in September, and The Lincoln Highway: California is now being printed. But his favorite Patrice Press
book of all time is his new Alice’s Drive.
Jolene Allphin from Utah, author of Tell My Story Too. This is comprised of journal entries from the Martin and Willie handcart companies that are not as well known.
Jolene and husband, Michael G. Allphin, near Devil's Gate
Jolene Spendlove Allphin resides in Layton, Utah. She is the mother of 11 children
(2 Navajos and 9 palefaces) and 20 grandchildren (at last count).
She is the author of Tell My Story, Too - A collection of biographical sketches
of pioneers and rescuers of the Willie, Martin, Hodgett and Hunt companies of 1856.
The book evolved from an assignment to find a story for each trekker for a
Youth Pioneer Trek. Others now use it as a workbook for similar treks. Her collection
of stories and pictures has largely been fed by descendants of these pioneers and rescuers.
She considers each of them as "friends" and loves to collect and share their stories.
Growing up as an "army brat", Jolene lived in California, Alaska and Utah. Her marriage to Michael G.
Allphin has taken her to Arizona, California and Utah as well. She is thrilled to come to Nebraska
and celebrate with residents and visitors there.
Ronnie O'Brien from Nebraska, author and actor of events on the Mormon Trail, she is the show manager and education program director for the Archway. She was the original driving force behind this handcart celebration.
Mike Ericksen and daughters Jennifer and Shaunee at Rock Creek Hollow, Wyoming where the handcart pioneers were.
They are actors in the film documentary that will be released later this year on the handcart pioneers.
The temperature was about -10 degrees and a strong wind with deep snow, similar to what the real pioneers faced.
"There will be a special presentation and a trailer of that film shown at this 150th handcart event in June."
Mike Ericksen is a descendent of Ole Madsen who came with the Willie handcart company, with his wife Ane and their 4 children. Ole died at rock creek hollow and was buried with 12 others. His family went on and his little 10 year old daughter, Anna Marie, is Mike’s great grandmother.
It will be an honor to participate in the 150th handcart celebration and tell some of this great story of tragedy, faith and courage. Nebraska plays an important part in the story not only from the handcart trek side but also from the events and help that came to the pioneers from the folks living there.
Mike and his wife Cheri live in Farmington, Utah and have 4 children. Mike is a classical guitarist and got started writing songs about the handcart journey and sharing stories when his family along with Emily Christensen’s family went on a trek to Martin’s Cove Wyoming, one night at a fireside President Scott Lorimer came and told the group the handcart story and Mike and Emily provided the music with some songs that they had written for the trip. Mike found the stories incredible and has spent the last 8 years studying, researching and sharing stories with others through music. Mike and Emily have done a number of firesides and produced a cd of pioneer and family history songs called “unsung” that has become the theme music of the handcart journey. The cd also contains the song “Light up the land” which Mike’s brother Greg wrote about the journey, Light up the Land” became the theme song to an Olympic album for the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. Mike and Greg produced special versions of classical guitar and choir for “Light up the Land”, only found on this cd.
Mike and his daughters Jennifer and Shaunee, in the picture above were involved in the filming in Denmark and winter filming in Wyoming for Lee Groberg’s documentary coming out in October of the Willie and Martin rescue. There will be a special presentation and a trailer of that film shown at this 150th handcart event in June.
All profits from the sale of
ike Ericksen and Emily Christensen's CD "Unsung" are being graciously donated to help
finance this event. The cd "Unsung" contains 14 songs both instrumental arraignments,
and vocals. Its theme is not only about the journey itself but also deals with the
awareness of family history. The CD is a special production for this and other events
about the handcart journey and is not sold in stores. We are selling it for $10 and it may be purchased or ordered from the Archway (308)237-1000
Feedback coments have included: about the CD from listeners:
“The song “baby’s blue eyes” I absolutely loved it! It took me back immediately to when my son was born”…
“ I just listened to your cd, really great!!”
“Emily’s voice has such a familiar spirit, pure and unique”
“The cd really flows with the theme of the trek, you can feel the journey through the music both the good times and the hardships”
A special musical CD dedicated to the handcart pioneers by Mike Ericksen and Emily Christensen will be available
for purchase at the event for $10. They have graciously donated all profits of these sales during these two days to help
finance this handcart celebration.
Emily Christensen is the great granddaughter of Sarah Moulten, a member of the Willie Handcart Company. She is a
graduate of Utah State University, with a major in Music Therapy and a minor in guitar. In the past 16 years
she has spent the majority of her time raising her family. Music and songwriting have been constant companions
through these years, with many of her songs centering on her family-past and present. She writes theme songs for
Girl's Camps and Youth Conferences, and often performs for Daughters of the Utah Pioneer meetings and church events.
Some of her most cherished experiences have been singing her songs at Martin's Cove. Through her research and songwriting,
she has grown to love and honor the Handcart Pioneers.
Landes Shepard from Colorado, tells pioneer stories and plays the harmonica while his wife Elaine plays the guitar. He portrays his ancestor and scout for the rescuers, Charles Decker.
|Landes and Elaine Shepard
||Charles Franklin Decker
He was familiarly known as "Uncle Charlie" and was one of the last of the picturesque characters whose lives were associated with the plains when the West was inhabited by the Bison and the Indians.
He married Vilate Young, Brigham Young's daughter, in a ceremony performed by her father at Winter Quarters .
He was often called to go back and help the immigration trains and to freight merchandise.
During those years he crossed the plains 53 times and a vast volume could be written recounting his experiences; his marvelous escape from death in a hundred ways.
In 1856 he was the lead Scout for the rescue party sent out to rescue the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies near Martin’s Cove Wyoming. Mr. Decker has had many escapes , but does not care to be a hero. When the Indians became acquainted with him, they would do anything for him.
He knew everybody that was any anybody in early Mormon history and the settlements of the early west.
Come and hear the rest of his story, as told by his Great Great Grandson Landes Shepard and his wife Elaine, who both will be present during the activities. Landes has compiled a extensive Biography and presented this story in four western states including his native Wyoming at Martin’s Cove.
Dave and Shirley Jamiel from Nevada are living history reenactors.
Dave and Shirley Jamiel have been doing interpretive and living history programs
for over 30 years in Michigan, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah and Nevada.
Their venues have included, Bent’s Old Fort, Colorado, the Mormon Battalion Muster,
Nebraska 1997 and Hand cart Pioneer programs in 1996-2002 at Fort Laramie, Wyoming.
David has worked as an interpretive park ranger for the National Park Service and U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service for 15 years. Since 2003 he has worked as a project manager
for BLM in Elko, Nevada designing and building an interpretive center focusing on the
California gold rush and history of settlement of the Great Basin.
Pioneer Heritage Camp
This living hisory group from Utah participated on the 1997 Wagon Train through Nebraska demonstrating typical pioneer camp life.
They will be back for this event with about 20 partipants and 11 pioneer tents doing demonstrations in the living history camp.
Jenny Phillips and her 15 singers from Utah will present an hour spiritual musical concert Sat. evening at 7:00 PM in the local church aduitorium.
It is free to the public and is dedicated to the handcart pioneers. Jenny and her group have toured internationally and will be touring
Australia later this year. You can see more about her at www.jennyphillips.com.htm
CHOIRS: We have two additional local choirs coming to the event on Sat. The Grand Island City Singers which has been in existence 40 years will be partipating
singing pioneer songs. A Lincoln Stake choir will be present and may perform music provided by Mike Ericksen and sung at the Winter Olympics in Utah.
Ron Andersen, aka “Ephraim Hanks,” is a retired school teacher, who grew up in San Diego,
spent three years in the military in North Carolina and Worms, Germany. That was followed by
2 ½ years in Switzerland as a missionary. History went from interest to passion, following a
month-long trip with the wife and five children to Montreal and the Eastern United States in 1987.
Membership in a number of history organizations and lots of service opportunities came next. Ron
and his wife, Nancy, organized and/or created guided historical tours in and around Salt Lake City
for school teachers seeking inservice or university credit. They were part of the 1997 Mormon Pioneer
Trail reenactment wagon train. Ron is the past president of the Mormon Trails Association and creator
of its web page (mormontrails.org). He and Nancy have been docents at This is the Place Heritage Park
for the past 10 years, and also docents at the Museum of [LDS] Church History and Art for the past 6 years.
Mormon Pioneer Trail Center Display from Winter Quarters
Being unveiled at the Handcart Festival at Kearney, Nebraska will be the Early Latter-day Saint pioneer database. The database created by the Nauvoo Illinois Land and Record Office
and the Pioneer Research Group of the Winter Quarters (Omaha, NE), Kanesville (Council Bluffs, IA) areas is a result of many years of gathering information about the Mormon pioneers
from as early as 1830. An area will be available at the Archway to access this database for visitors to the event.
Names and information can be found of pioneers who resided in settlements across Iowa; and eastern Nebraska in the Winter Quarters (Omaha) area,
and in Palmyra, New York; Kirtland, Ohio; Nauvoo, Illinois.
Visitors to the display may search for pioneer information and if found a CD will be created with that data for them.
The group is actively seeking pioneer resources and will be accepting journals, histories, diaries and genealogical information to add to the database.
You may contact Terry Latey email@example.com Mormon Pioneer Trail Center Resource Manager at Winter Quarters. More can be learned about these
historic trails at www.lds.org/gospellibrary/pioneer/pioneerstory.htm
Pat and Joyce Mahoney from Utah are living history reenactors who usually perform at major events in the Utah area. They are involved with a civil war drum and fife unit
in Utah and they and some of their unit will be in attendance at the living history site.
Soldiers from Fort Kearny will be represented by C Company 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry (aka. 1848 Venture Crew, BSA). In August of 1856 a mail wagon coming to Fort Kearny
was attacked just a few miles east of the fort by hostile
Indians and the driver killed. These soldiers will be on patrol. Rifle and cannon demonstrations will also be presented and a recruiting and drill
session for new volunteer soldiers will be conducted during the event. Soldiers will also be undergoing drum and fife training, so potential volunteers may want to
bring their own musical instruments. Their web site can be seen under the links section of this web site.