Several years ago we had the privilege of helping a family retell the story of an amazing ancestor. Susannah Stone was born in 1830 in the town of Bristol, England. In 1856 she decided to come to Utah and joined one of the last two handcart companies to cross the plains that year.
Those familiar with the history of the Willie and Martin handcart companies will remember the hardships endured by these brave, but inexperienced travelers. Unfriendly Indians, broken handcarts, missing cattle and reduced rations all played a factor in their inability to move quickly across the harsh terrain. An early winter took its toll and 77 of the 404 members of the Willie Company perished before reaching the Salt Lake Valley.
As you read this beautiful story, you are reminded of the difficult life our pioneer forefathers endured. But Susannah is quick to point out that they didn't consider themselves pioneers. That title was reserved for those hardy individuals who had cut the trails 10 years earlier. Her personal history states "We were almost pioneers for we had to travel thru sunflowers and sage brush for many miles."
Susannah arrived in the Salt Lake Valley November 5, 1856. That same day she met the handsome, young Thomas Lloyd who had immigrated the previous year. Both were favorably impressed at their first meeting and Thomas proposed on the spot. Together they share thirty-eight years and fourteen children.
Fast forward to 2009. Last weekend descendants of Susannah Stone and Thomas Lloyd had a family reunion. Someone brought a copy of the story that we helped to preserve. One of the attendees did a double take when she looked at title page. She recognized the name of one of the authors. They have been friends for many years, but in ALL those years, they had never realized they shared the same Great-Grandmother.
It really is a SMALL world!