The Martin Handcart Company at the Sweetwater : Another Look
Over time, the story of the Martin Handcart Company's crossing the Sweetwater River has become folk history which does not accurately represent the past. Much of what is commonly known today comes from a description by Solomon F. Kimball. Contrary to Kimball's account of the event, more than three young men were involved in helping the company cross the river, and none of these men were eighteen years old, although they were near that age. Also, the meaning behind Brigham Young's promising eternal life to these rescuers is not known (nor has a primary reference been found for this statement), but it is assumed that their salvation was not promised based upon that one event but was dependent on how the men endured the rest of their lives. Although many members of the Martin Handcart Company were carried over the river, others crossed unassisted. The Sweetwater rescuers, although they did suffer some health problems in consequence of the river crossing, did not die due to complications of this event. Many of them lived long lives, and some served missions. The story of the Sweetwater River crossing "is not the rescue story, but a story of rescue."