Anna Maria Stucki (she later changed her name to Mary Ann) was born in Switzerland in 1854. Her parents, Samuel and Magdalena Stucki, joined the Church when she was a young girl, and early in 1860 they prepared to join the Saints in Zion. They made their way to Liverpool, crossed to New York, and then rode a train to the Missouri River.
In Florence, Nebraska, they found there was a shortage of teams for wagons, so they helped to prepare handcarts. They were part of the tenth and final handcart company, led by Oscar O. Stoddard.
Mary Ann wrote, "Ours was a small two-wheeled vehicle with two shafts and a cover on top. The carts were very much like those the street sweepers use in the cities today, except that ours were made entirely of wood without even an iron rim." As they loaded the wagon in preparation for the journey, they were forced to leave behind many possessions - a feather bed, a bolt of linen, two large trunks of clothing, and other necessities. At the time, Mary Ann was six; she and her 9-year-old brother walked most of the way; her 2-year-old sister and a 6-month-old brother were small enough to ride. On July 6, 1860, the company began the journey.
"The first night out the mosquitoes gave us a hearty welcome. Father had bought a cow to take along, so we could have milk on the way. At first he tied her to the back of the cart, but she would sometimes hang back, so he thought he would make a harness and have her pull the cart while he led her. By this time mother's feet were so swollen that she could not wear shoes, but had to wrap her feet with cloth. Father thought that by having the cow pull the cart mother might ride. This worked well for some time."
However, one day a group of Indians passed the company, and startled the cow. She ran off with the cart bearing the two young children. The chase stopped when the cow fell into a gully, turning the cart upside down. The children were miraculously unhurt, but Samuel Stucki gave up on the plan of having the cow pull the cart. Instead, he lent her to a Danish family with three boys; she pulled their cart, and the Danish boys took turns helping pull the Stucki's cart.
Mary Ann also told about dealing with weather conditions during the crossing, and other aspects of the journey:
"Even when it rained the company did not stop traveling. A cover on the handcart shielded the two younger children. The rest of us found it more comfortable moving than standing still in the drizzle. In fording streams the men often carried the children and weaker women across on their backs. The company stopped over on Sundays for rest, and meetings were held for spiritual comfort and guidance. At night, when the handcarts were drawn up in a circle and the fires were lighted, the camp looked quite happy. Singing, music, and speeches by the leaders cheered everyone."
The company reached the Salt Lake Valley in September, 1860. "Some yelled and tossed their hats in the air. A shout of joy arose at the thought that our long trip was over, that we had at last reached Zion, the place of rest. We all gave thanks to God for helping us safely over the Plains and mountains to our destination."
A year later, they were called to settle in southern Utah. Mary Ann would be married to John Reber in 1873, but her husband was killed in an accident only 11 days after the wedding. She then married John Hafen, and eventually moved to Bunkerville, Nevada, and bore eight children. She lived to be 91 years old.
(From Mary Ann Hafen, _Recollections of a Handcart Pioneer of 1860_, University of Nebraska Press, reprinted 1983, pp. 13-26)
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