In 1856 the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies became stranded in the high plains of Wyoming, due to early snowstorms and food shortage. President Brigham Young mounted a large rescue effort of many wagons loaded with food and supplies. Many of these wagons turned back convinced that it was impossible, and they themselves were in jeopardy of dying.
A small number of these wagons persisted in the attempt however, and found the Martin Company in early November on the Sweetwater River near Devil's Gate. These few wagons could not carry the hundreds of starving, freezing immigrants, and they faced this river crossing in such a weakened condition, that to wade the icy water, which was waist deep and about 100 feet across, would have killed most of them.
Three, maybe four, young men of the rescue party, about eighteen years of age, saw what must be done. They volunteered to do the impossible. They spent most of the day carrying these people across the ice-choked stream, on their shoulders and in their arms. This act of pure charity and true heroism proved to be a sacrifice of great cost. The exposure and exertion these young men experienced that day was so great that in later years they all died from the effects of it. Because of their acts of charity they saved the lives of over 300 of these people.
Brigham Young wept as a child when he heard what these young men had done, and said that ®that act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball and everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end.® The example of these young men will always touch our hearts and strengthen our resolve.