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The year 2006 marks the sesquicentennial of the Martin and Willie Handcart Company treks to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Members of the Willie Company sailed from Liverpool, England, in May of 1856, and arrived in Salt Lake the following November. With limited funds and resources, these faithful Saints made the journey to the Valley pulling handcarts and walking, consequently enduring some of the greatest hardships of all the pioneers who followed Brigham Young’s call from the Lord to gather in the West. In an attempt to bring some of the personal, daily experiences of the Willie Company in particular to interested viewers, BYU Studies has produced a day-by-day web chronology of their journey from Liverpool to Salt Lake City, based on research by Paul D. Lyman.* While navigating through these pages, viewers can read from the following sources:**

            Willie Company Journal: Complete text of the company journal with an entry for every day of the journey.

            Paul Lyman Commentary: Fully documented historical commentary, including links to the full-text journals of William Woodward, Peter Madsen, and Levi Savage.

            John Chislett's Firsthand Account: Summary of the entire journey written 15 years after Chislett arrived in Salt Lake City.

The goal of this project is to allow the reader to understand and to experience the Willie Company’s day-by-day trek to Salt Lake City. Because the story is portrayed here as a narrative, the events should be read chronologically, and we encourage viewers to go back and look at previous days. Some of the journal entries used archaic words or phrases or referred to other people or to events that were well known in 1856, but are not commonly known today. These words, phrases, names and events are explained in the commentary after their first occurrence.

Whether you know a little or a lot about the pioneers, this chronology of the Willie Handcart Company will give new insights into their experiences, hardships, and faith. Even stories and events that are already familiar may strengthen your testimony and understanding when considered in this new, fuller context.
The Willie Handcart Company book by Paul D. Lyman is out-of-print. You may be able to buy some used copies on Amazon. This book illuminates the Willie Company¹s daily experiences and includes portions of journals, personal histories, newspapers, maps, and other historical documents.

                   * This chronology, along with detailed maps of the Saints’ trek, driving directions for the adventurous, and photographs of landmarks along the way, will be published by BYU Studies as a book in fall 2006.

                   ** Note on primary sources: All entries are presented as they appear in the currently available typescript copies. No effort has been made to correct any spelling, punctuation, or other errors in the printed records.