Last spring I borrowed a book about the ill-fated Willie and Martin handcart companies who were caught in a series of snow storms on the plains in Wyoming while on their way to Salt Lake City in 1857. Through a bunch of mishaps, miscommunications and misplaced zeal, the companies started out across Nebraska and Wyoming too late in the year and promised extra supplies and help did not appear. As a result, the pioneers were almost out of food when the early snow hit. Many people died from exposure before they could be rescued and brought to Salt Lake. I was interested in reading it, well, because I like to read disaster stories, and between my husband I, we have 3 ancestors and their families who were in the Martin handcart company. One of my favorite stories about the handcart companies is about Amy Loader, who was an older woman traveling with her family including several married daughters. Her health was not good when they had started the trip, but she had already outlived her husband when the snow hit. After a cold night, she had a hard time getting her grown daughters up to continue on. She finally said, "Come girls, this will not do. I believe I will have to dance to you and try to make you feel better." So she got to her feet and danced, twirled and sang until her daughters were laughing and forgetting about their frozen toes. Amy then slipped and fell. Her daughters then immediately got up to see if she was alright. Amy then confessed that she had fallen on purposed because she knew that would get her daughters up. She had been afraid that they would give up. Amy Loader kept her family going through their trials. I loved that story. It was hard not to smile at this matron's antics and courage. Amy Loader was not one of our ancestors, but I felt that she was a good example of the type of people these handcart pioneers were. I wanted to honor them and their spirit with a papercut.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Amy Loader's Dance
This papercut I have been working on for months as sketches. Finally, this weekend I "girded up my loins" and cut it. It is the biggest cut that I have done so far (10 in. x 13 in.). Perhaps that was one of the reasons that I felt intimidated by it. It took me longer to cut than most of my others also.