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Emma Summers Call

Born: August 5, 1828

Died: September 19, 1912

Emma Summers Call
(August 5, 1828- September 19, 1912)

Emma was born in Worcestershire, England and she took employment with a wealthy family as a house maid, and in 1856, she had saved enough funds to take her to America and on to the land of Zion, which at this time was established in Salt Lake Valley. Her brothers, George and Edward Summers had already traveled to Salt Lake in the early 1850's.

She arrived to New York city in June, 1856, and upon reaching Iowa Hills, she listed with the Willey Handcart Company. At this time, she was 28 years old, and she had a frail build,and she stood a little over five feet tall, with medium brown hair and soft blue eyes.

On July 9th, 1856, the Willey Handcart Company set off for Salt Lake Valley. The first tragedy occurred on September 4, 1856 when hostile Indians overpowered the company and took all the beef cattle and cows which were the main source of food for the Saints. To replenish the stock was an impossibility, so the entire company was placed on rations.

On October 12, 1856, early snowstorms stalled the handcarts and made the under footing very unbearable. Their clothing and footwear were worn out and under these conditions, the Willey Handcart Company traveled as far as possible each day, pausing only to bury those who died of exhaustion and malnutrition. The snowstorms continued and the food diminished. On October 19th, 1856, the last of the flour was eaten.

More belated and farther back along the trail was the Martin Handcart Company, whose sufferings were more intense than the Willey Handcart Company.

On October 3, 1856, Brigham Young called for volunteers to help the people in the Willey Handcart Company and the Martin Handcart Company. Anson Call furnished two wagons and teams and also most of the food provisions with which they were laden. He drove one team and George Summer (Emma’s oldest brother) drove the other. They headed off without haste to the suffering people in the handcart companies. The next day in Salt Lake, 27 men, 16 wagons loaded heavily with food and clothing, were assembled to assist the handcart companies.

Anson Call and George Summers arrived first to the Willey Handcart Company when absolute starvation had prevailed for 48 hours. After reviving the Willey Company, a call was made for volunteers to proceed east for the relief of the Martin Handcart Company. In response, Anson Call and George Summers joined others to relieve the Martin Handcart Company.

The Willey Handcart Company arrived into Salt Lake Valley on November 9th, 1856. Emma Summers, still wearing her bonnet which had been burned in places by the camp fire to avoid freezing. Her dress hung in shreds below her knees, but she arrived to Salt Lake Valley. She was taken to the home of her brother, George Summers in Bountiful, Utah. In 1857, Anson Call married Emma Summers.

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