150th Anniversary Nears of One of America's Most Remarkable Stories of Old West Survival, Courage And Determination

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This week marks the 150th anniversary of one of the most remarkable stories of courage and determination in American history when the starving and near-frozen survivors of the 500-member Willie Handcart Company walked into Fort Bridger, Wyo., on Nov. 2, 1856.

This week marks the 150th anniversary of one of the most remarkable stories of courage and determination in American history when the starving and near-frozen survivors of the 500-member Willie Handcart Company walked into Fort Bridger, Wyo., on Nov. 2, 1856, said Mike Harris, publisher of La Frontera Publishing.

As many as 67 members of the company died from freezing, starvation and illness, while others suffered frost bite to their faces, hands and feet, exhaustion from walking through snow drifts and over frozen mountainous terrain, and faced the specter of death due to no food or water.

The story of survival is detailed in the revised, second edition of Candy Moulton's book "Legacy of the Tetons," published by La Frontera Publishing, http://www.lafronterapublishing.com, and distributed by the University of New Mexico Press, http://www.unmpress.com. In particular, Moulton shares the experiences of her husband's family members, Thomas and Sarah Moulton, and their eight children, who all survived the deadly trek.

"The hardships endured by the Moulton family and others in the Mormon handcart companies of 1856 were the most severe of any faced during the western migration," said Moulton, a Western history author of 11 books and winner of the Spur Award. "Along with the deaths in the Willie Handcart Company, an additional 135 to 150 members of the Edward Martin Handcart Company that was several days behind the Willie Company perished from freezing and starvation."

When the Willie Company arrived at Fort Bridger, they found 50 wagon teams sent from the settlements north and south of Salt Lake to haul them the remainder of the way. Some people defiantly continued to walk and eventually dragged their battered handcarts into Salt Lake in late November, Moulton said.

Finally, at about noon Nov. 9, 1856, the wagons that were filled with starving handcart immigrants stopped in front of the old tithing office in Salt Lake City, thus ending their long 1,300-mile march from Iowa City, Iowa.

"That these immigrants persevered through incredible personal hardship and loss of family members to not only survive but live to build their dreams is an incredible story relevant to today's America," said Mike Harris, Publisher of La Frontera Publishing. "It's fitting that we should mark the sesquicentennial of their journey."

"Legacy of the Tetons" second edition is published as a paperback (6 x 9, 192 pages, 64 halftones, index, $18.95). It will be available in the University of New Mexico Press' Spring 2007 catalog. For further information on ordering "Legacy of the Tetons" visit the UNM Press' Web site at http://www.unmpress.com or call (505) 272-7777 or (800) 249-7737.

About La Frontera Publishing

Cheyenne, Wyoming-based La Frontera Publishing publishes historic fiction and non-fiction books about the American West. Its Web site can be found at http://www.lafronterapublishing.com and reached at (307) 778-4752.

Note to editors: Interviews of Candy Moulton about her book are available by contacting La Frontera Publishing.

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