Western Women: Emma Lee French helped start Lees Ferry, served as capable midwife

in People

On May 25, 1856, the ship Horizon sailed out of Liverpool, England, for the United States. On board were 856 newly converted Mormon passengers including 21-year-old Emma Louise Batchelor who was leaving her Uckfield, Sussex County home.

By July 8, she was in Iowa City, Iowa, ready to start the long trek to Salt Lake City, Utah. The Mormon Church provided passengers with a handcart to carry their belongings on the 1,400-mile walk. In return, each member would owe the church one-year’s labor.

Emma set out on foot with the Willie Company as it departed Iowa City.

By the time the travelers arrived in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, many of the handcarts were in disrepair. The company captain ordered everyone to remove most of their belongings to lighten their loads, but Emma refused to part with her few possessions and stayed at Fort Laramie to await the Martin Company.

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