SETTING: Bitter Creek, Wyoming - - not far from Rawlins, Wyoming
The Willie and Martin Companies left Nebraska Territory in late August. Their desire to go to Zion was very strong, so in spite of the lateness of the season and the long distance, they set out quite ill-prepared. Many of their handcarts were made from wood which was not seasoned.
The two companies were separated by about 40 miles when the severe winter storms came early on the high plains. Almost every day deaths occurred in their camps. Little children would trudge all day, only to die around the fires at night. Parents were almost helpless to alleviate the suffering of their children. Burial squads were a daily thing, and several men, after digging shallow graves, were so exhausted and sick that they would die and be buried in the graves they had dug.
In the painting, I have pictured my relatives who were in the Martin Company. The woman holding the infant is my great great grandmother, Elizabeth Steele, from Scotland. The baby is James E. Steele, about one year old at that time. Her husband being buried is James Steele. They were converts and had just lately arrived in America in great expectation of a grand future in Zion. James had literally starved to death giving all his food to his children and wife. He died on the windswept plains, hundreds of miles from Zion, but it was in his heart and as the Savior said,
®Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.®