June 9, 2017
Chase Shepard (b.1945), Exodus by Faith, 1973, etching, 2 7/8 x 2 7/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art.
On this day in 1856, the first company of Mormon pioneers traveling across the plains in handcarts, rather than covered wagons, departed Kirtland, Ohio for the Salt Lake Valley. This first company was led by Edmund Ellsworth and was comprised mostly of European immigrants who were new converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These pioneers had already traveled across the Atlantic from their home countries and taken trains to Ohio. The Ellsworth company entered the Salt Lake Valley on September 26, 1856. The fourth and fifth handcart companies were the famous Wille and Martin companies, which left Ohio late in the season and were rescued in Wyoming in the dead of winter by Latter-day Saints already living in Salt Lake City.