6th Generation Pioneer Heritage - Martin handcart company

his book 'And Should We Die'

Arthur Ruger's book featured at local library.   Purchase his book at this Link

And Should We Die......... by Arthur Crossley Ruger

a historical fiction novel, based on lesser known story of the westward migration in the tragic, yet heroic pioneers of the Martin and Willie handcart companies.  Link to his blog.  See below for more detail from the author.

author, Arthur Ruger, description of the writing of his book 'And Should We Die'

In the writing of this book, Arthur Crossley Ruger learned he is descendant on the paternal side of his mother, Cora Ruger.

Mary Jarvis Crossley, who with 3 of her 4 children did survive the ill-fated trek of the Edward Martin handcart company to join her husband, James Crossley, two years after he had already arrived at the gathering of Zion (Brigham Young's Salt Lake City, Utah settlement) to make place for his family to join him.

Mary and her four children, found themselves among the 576 immigrants that made up the Martin handcart company, which along with the Willie handcart company found themselves in the most dire of circumstances in the crossing of the plains and Rocky Mountains.

Her children: Ephraim Jarvis Crossley (age 5) , Sarah Crossley (age 12), Hannah Crossley (age 15), Joseph Smith Crossley (19) crippled and died along the way on the hard trek.

Excerpts from the trail, at LDS.org church history, an autobiographical sketch from Sarah Crossley Sessions, daughter of Mary Jarvis Crossley.

also see more of the story The Story and Life of Sarah Crossley Sessions via Hannah Sessions Burmingham at Sedgwick Research

And Should We Die

a historical fiction novel work by Arthur Crossley Ruger

Product Description

Rose Blake and her family in England are trapped in circumstances and events that are destroying their lives. Jacob Hannah is a violent man called to preach by Brigham Young in an effort to save his soul. Based on an actual historical event, And Should We Die is human nature at it's best and worst, a struggle to survive against an unforgiving mother nature. And Should We Die is ultimately a love story from out of the history of the American West.

From the Author
About This Book

And Should We Die was drafted and written between October, 1986 to early 1987.

The novel was my creation as someone who grew up inside a mythical reality created by a fundamentalist religion that nevertheless was real to me and framed the only way I knew how to live and be.

Now, a returning member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I remain a cultural and heritage-based Mormon to the depths of my bones.

For a long time I saw it only as an attempt to write marketable historical fiction; an attempt that accomplished nothing more than to perhaps reveal an aptitude or love for writing.

Although I attempted once or twice to read it to the family, I myself did not sustain that effort. There seemed to be no one else who could or would take the time to read it. The drafts remained in boxes in my home. More recently I attempted to read parts to my wife, Lietta.

Each time certain passages brought tears to my eyes.
I still read this novel with very strong emotions. Now, more than twenty years after it was written, I acknowledge that it represents the essence of how I see myself in terms of ancestry, culture and background.

After learning that my maternal ancestors were actually in the Martin Handcart company it then became personal ... a story about the kind of courageous people of whom I am a descendant.


"And should we die" is the first line of the ultimate verse of the hymn that has become the anthem of the L.D.S. church:Come Come Ye Saints. The hymn is one of gathering and became the signature of emigration to Utah in the mid and latter half of the 19th century.
And Should We Die was first drafted and written more than twenty years ago with the help and cooperation of my still growing family who - with little interference - watched Dad go to the basement with his Selectric Typewriter every day for six months to write.

I want to acknowledge my Aunt, Hope Hayes, who lived in the Mormon communities of my own childhood and who generously provided the documents written by my own ancestors who were part of the LDS Handcart Experiment and ultimate tragedy in 1856.

But mostly I want to acknowledge my wife, Lietta Ruger, who - upon discovering the manuscript in our home 15 years after its initial writing - insisted that I read it with her, save it to a floppy disk and advocated publishing.

In transcribing this writing from the paper copy which was done with a typewriter I have made a few corrections of grammar, spelling and syntax for clarity purposes (to the degree I am able to do quality proof-reading).

I would not add to, delete or change anything in this material.
It comes directly from my inner world.
It reflects too much to try to change it after the fact.

A.C.R., South Bend Washington, November, 2007

Great, Great, Great Grandmother, Mary Jarvis Crossley

from blog 'And Should We Die' by Arthur Crossley Ruger

Part I is a work of fiction and other than actual historical figures, the characters are fictional.

The events in part II about the handcart journey are offered as more or less accurate and in sequence. A more personal and significant source to me came about after I discovered, during the writing and while scanning the roster of emigrants in Edward Martin's Company, the names of Mary Jarvis Crossley (45) with two sons and three daughters: Mary Ann (23), Joseph (19), Hannah (15), Sarah (12), Ephraim (5) and Mary Ann's son William (1).

At that point something changed for me in the writing of this story. It suddenly became extremely personal and, as I had already invested quite a bit of energy in trying to write about the handcart journey, I acquired a new and more powerful sense of heritage.

Mary Jarvis Crossley was the mother of Ephraim Jarvis Crossley who made the handcart journey at the age of five.

Ephraim Jarvis Crossley became the father of Joseph Ephraim Crossley, who became the father of Joseph Heber Crossley, who was the father of Cora Lanor Crossley, my mother.

Mary Jarvis Crossley is therefore my Great Great Great Grandmother.

Up until the time of discovering this information, I knew very little about my mother's side of the family; where they came from, when and how they joined the LDS Church and how they came to reside in Idaho.

I found a family member, Hope Hayes of Soda Springs, Idaho, who could answer my questions about my Crossley ancestors and also sent me a most precious package of information upon which the events and activities of my fictional characters were based.

I received life stories of James Crossley (Mary's husband and my Great Great Great Grandfather), Mary Crossley and Sarah Crossley Sessions (age 12 during the handcart journey), diary entries from James Crossley and, extremely precious and useful, diary entries from the journal of 19-year old Joseph for May and June, 1856 when the family crossed the Atlantic on the ship Horizon.

In the novel, Rose Blake's journal for May and June, 1856 is based entirely on what is in Joseph's (his last name was Smith as he was Mary's son by a prior marriage) diary.

Joseph died at Martin's Cove and the incident in the novel when Abigail see's wolves attack Albert's body is based on Mary Crossley seeing wolves go after the deceased Joseph as the emigrants were leaving Martin's Cove and she gazed back at her son's body.

The handcart story became a story I have inherited; became in that way my own story, helping me, more than a hundred years later, come to a greater sense of who I am.

Part of my mother's side of the family came to Utah in handcarts and part of my father's side of the family, namely Anson Call who is named toward the end of the rescue, participated in helping them get to Utah.

* * *

Words and acts of actual historical persons are quoted and described according to the reference materials utilized in the crafting of the story.

All characters named were actual people with the exception of Turner Cole, Joshua Cole, Jacob Hannah, and the Blake family, Reverend Charles, Oliver Leach, Tommy Brown, Sabina Cole and the Jenkins family which was named in one fictional conversation.

The Rescue Team characters were all actual historical personages as were Edward Martin, James Willie, Franklin D. Richards, Levi Savage and the emigrant families named in the novel.

The words of Brigham Young are quoted based on historical quotations.

Crossley photos

Photos of
photos at Glance (blog)

James Crossley, age 39, with this caption; James traveled to Utah a year ahead of his family so he could have a home ready for them when they arrived. His daughter, Mary Anne, crossed the ocean with the family to America but returned to England. His son, Joseph, died in Wyoming several days before the rescue parties found the group.

Sarah Crossley Sessions, photo shows her at an older age, she was 12 when she accompanied and survived with her mother, Mary Jarvis Crossley, and two other siblings, Hannah Crossley, and Ephraim Jarvis Crossley on the Martin handcart company Photo of Sarah with this caption;Sarah arrived with her mother, Mary Jarvis Crossley, 45, and her sisters. Her brother, Joseph died in Wyoming a few days before the company was trapped in Martin's Cove

Sarah Crossley Sessions

Sarah Crossley Sessions

Birth:Jan. 29, 1843
Lancashire, England
Death:Jan. 24, 1906
Davis County
Utah, USA

A member of the Martin Handcart Company

Daughter of James Crossley and Mary Jarvis

Married - Perrigrine Sessions, 2 Mar 1861, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Children - Male Sessions, Mary Elvira Sessions, William Westley Sessions, Phoebe Olive Sessions, Mary Sessions, Joseph Sessions, James Crossley Sessions, Hannah Ann Sessions, Hannah L. Sessions, Daughter Sessions, Lillis Cordelia Sessions, Wallace Orlanda Sessions

History - In a little town of Radcliff, Manchester, England lived a family by the name of Crossley. They belonged belonged to the Methodist Church until the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to them in the year of 1851. Many of the elders came to their home and stayed with them. Among them came Elder Sessions, President of the Manchester Mission. Sarah was fond of him and would creep near to listen to his every word. Sometimes he would take the children on his lap and tell them of his home and wonderful experiences in his work in the church. 

He often urged Sarah's father to go to America and unite with the Saints in the Rocky Mountains. This time her father did, leaving Mother and the children to follow as soon as he could make a home for them. After two years the way came to them. They bade farewell sailing from Liverpool early in the spring of 1856. 

Elder Levi Savage had traveled the Plains before, and tried to discourage the group when they got to Florence Nebraska telling them that it was too late to make this trip. Many of the carts gave out and had to wait for repair and they had to double their loads as some had to be discarded and left. It was hard work.

September came and the first frost was upon them. Out in the open with few clothes and little shelter, then they began their real suffering. But they tried to be brave and not complain more than necessary to each other. The Crossley children felt they should help their Mother all they could. 

A terrible disease crept into their little fold and death became a frequent visitor to their little train. They were obliged to leave their loved ones in the graves that marred the path of this little struggling band. 

Lower and lower the rations became and no food or help in sight. Many were dying each day. Men and women who started strong and well were dropping out. Each morning they would dig a grave and bury the dead before they could leave camp. Each morning the Crossley's gave brother Joseph their clothing to keep him warm. His suffering was over one morning as they found him frozen in his bed. They left him by the side of the road. There were five deaths that night and the ground was so frozen that they could not dig a grave. They wrapped him in a large blanket and left him by the side of the trail; before they had got out of sight, they heard the wolves had reached it. This was a terrible trial for Sarah's mother to bear, but she did not complain to the Lord and did not lose faith in him. 

They had not reached Sweet Water River and the provisions were gone. They found a small ravine since named Martin's Ravine. Here they made or camp in a clump of willows that grew close together. In the morning to add to their suffering a heavy snow had fallen upon them. They were lost, starving, and buried in two feet of snow. Three days they lived through this and then at the sunset from over the rim of the ravine came a covered wagon with men breaking a road for the horses. Such cries of joy were never heard before. 

They started on with new hope and courage. As they came to South Pass, the weather moderated and they did not suffer so much. On the thirteenth day of November, they arrived in Salt Lake City, what was left of them. There was five hundred and eighty-four members in the company in Iowa City, and one hundred and forty-six of this little band were left along the plains and in the mountains to tell the tale of their experience. 

They were met by their dear Father and many of their friends. In fact most of the city came to look upon the suffering of this company. They gave them aid by taking them into their homes to nurse them back to life-from the very jaws of death through which they had passed. 

Sarah visited with her Father for several days then Elder Sessions came and begged to be permitted to take one of them to care for. As Sarah felt very near to him for his kindness to them while on his mission in England. Sarah was allowed to go and live with her sister. 

Sarah lived most of the time with Mr. Session's family and at the age of eighteen she was married to him. Sarah went to live with his other wives in a large house until some years later Ester, his youngest wife and Sarah lived together in a log house of six rooms. Here Sarah had her family of eleven children and Ester had ten. They loved each other dearer than sister. For seventeen years they lived together in perfect happiness. Then they were given a nice new home of their own, but they parted with many regrets and they always remained the dearest of companions. 

Sarah was a widow at the age of fifty with my family in comfortable circumstances and loving companionship of all the other wives. There were six wives at this time and they had always been a great blessing to each other. 

Sarah was always faithful, sweet and gentle. She lived to the age of sixty three and when winter came which she dreaded, she was laid to rest in the Bountiful Cemetery. She rests beside her husband and several children who have gone before. 

Family links: 
James Crossley (1816 - 1894)

Perrygrine Sessions (1814 - 1893)

Mary Elvira Sessions Ashdown (1864 - 1933)*
Mary Sessions Scott (1866 - 1898)*
Joseph Sessions (1868 - 1917)*
Wallace Orlando Sessions (1870 - 1958)*
William Wesley Sessions (1873 - 1877)*
Lillis Cordelia Sessions Egan (1875 - 1953)*
Hannah Ann Sessions (1880 - 1880)*
Sarah Sessions (1881 - 1881)*
Olive Howells (1883 - 1976)*
Hannah L Sessions Burningham (1886 - 1942)*

Bountiful Memorial Park
Davis County
Utah, USA
Plot: b-11-31-6

James Crossley, Mary Jarvis Crossley, Ephraim Jarvis Crossley

from link Electronic Library

CROSSLEY, JAMES (son of James and Sarah Crossley of Yorkshire, Eng.). Born June 1, 1816, in Yorkshire. Came to Utah 1855.

Married Hannah Whiston Feb. 29, 1836 (daughter of Michael and Mary Whiston), who was born June 25, 1815,and died April 9, 1839. Their children: Ellen b. Jan. 8,
1837, d. May 28, 1839; Joseph b. April 8, 1839, d. April 9, 1839.

Married Mary Jarvis April 16, 1840, Eccles Church, near Manchester, Eng. (daughter of William and Betty Jarvis), who was born Nov. 26, 1811, in Yorkshire.
Their children: Hannah b. Nov. 27, 1840, m. George Winn; Sarah b. Jan. 29, 1843, m. Perrigrine Sessions; William b. Nov. 15, 1845, d. child- Elizabeth b. March 20, 1848, d. child; Ephraim Jarvia b. June 4, 1850, m. Keziah Hall; Emma b. Oct. 6, 1862, died;
Mary b. Jan. 30, 1855, died.

Married Mary Bentley Oct. 24. 1868, Salt Lake City (daughter of George and Sarah Bentley), who was born April 9, 1833 Craghall, Yorkshire, Eng. Their children: John Bentley b Aug. 26, 1869; Priscilla Bentley b. Nov. 20. 1872; Jemima b. Sept. 18, 1876, m. Smith Furnace.

Settled at Three-mile Creek, Boxelder county; moved to Fillmore 1858; moved to Camp Floyd 1861; then to Bountiful, and in 1880 to Ogden. Brewer. Died June 15, 1894.

CROSSLEY, EPHRAIM JARVIS (son of James Crossley and Mary Jarvis). Born June 4, 1860, Lancashire, Eng.

Married Keziah Hall Oct. 8, 1870, Salt Lake City (daughter of Samuel Hall and Catharine Foden, pioneers Aug. 20, 1868, Chester Loveland company). She was born Nov. 22, 1847. Stafford Eng. Their children: James Samuel b. Jan. 14, 1871, died; Joseph Ephraim b. Aug. 20, 1872, m. Rhoda Skinner; William Henry b. Nov. 10, 1874, m. Eva Arnold; Mary-Ann b. April 8, 1877, died; Dennis George b. Dec. 15. 1879, m Pearl Young; Hannah b. May 6, 1881, m. Albert E. Miller; Lucy b Nov 6 1883, m. Thomas Smith; Samuel Hall b. May 15 1886, died; Sarah Jane b. June 16, 1888, m. Walter L. Hymas. Family resided Liberty and Sharon, Idaho.

Settled in Bear Lake county, Idaho, 1873. Farmer and lumberman.

Roster of Martin Handcart Company members

from link at Pioneer Experience

Martin Handcart Company Members
Edward Martin Company Roster 1956

  • Crossley, Ephraim Jarvis (5)
  • Crossley, Hannah (15)
  • Crossley, Joseph Smith (19)
  • Crossley, Mary Ann Smith (23)
  • Crossley, Mary Jarvis (45)
  • Crossley, Sarah (12)
  • Crossley, William (1)

James Crossley obituary Deseret Weekly

article in the Deseret Weekly, Volume 49 at Google books

James Crossley

Ogden City, Utah, June 18, 1894 -- The ranks of our veteran fathers are becoming thinned out, and from present appearances their generations will be soon gathered to the 'other side'. Another of our venerable friends has passed to the great beyond.

Elder James Crossley has been a faithful, true adherent to the Gospel for nearly fifty years. He was the son of James and Sarah Crossley, and was born June 1, 1816 at Barrix, Saddlwork, Yorks, England. On the 29th of February 1836, he took to wife Hannah Whiston, who bore him two children. Both died young and on April 3, 1839, their mother followed them to the great beyond. On April 16, 1840, James Crossley entered the second time into matrimony, with Mary Jarvis. The issue of this marriage was nine children, only four of whom are now living. On January 8, 1846, he was baptized into the Curch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Shortly afterwards, in the same year, he was ordained an Elder, and appointed to preside over the Radcliffe branch of the Church, which position he held and faithfully filled until November 24, 1854. On the last named date he sailed from Liverpool on board the Clara Wheeler. The were on board 422 Latter-day Saints bound for New Orleans. As soon as they entered the Irish Channel they experienced terribly rough weather with stormy, adverse winds. The ship beat about in the troughs of the sea until the last day of the month, when the captain was compelled to 'bout ship' and return to port. They rested there until 7th of December, when they again put to sea with fresh supplies of provisions and water, and with better prospects of fairer weather. But shortly after leaving port the measles broke out with sad fatality among the company, resulting in the death of twenty-one children and two adult persons. They landed in New Orleans on the 11th of January 1855. From the last-named port they continued their journey to St. Louis, en route for Utah, on the steamboat Oceana.
After arriving in Salt Lake James Crossley first settled in the 'Sessions settlement.' In 1857 he rmoved to Willard, Box Elder county, and engaged in farming until 1858. He then 'pulled up stakes' and moved south with the people generally from the north. On Oct 26, 1868, he married Mary Bentley, by whom he had three children who still survive him. On May 1st, 1880, his wife Mary Jarvis died. In the fall of that year, he came to Ogden and has continued his residence here until the time of his death, which took place June 15.
The funeral services were held in the Second ward meeting house on Sunday, June 18. The building was filled to it's utmost capacity. Those who took active part in the obsequices were Bishop Joseph Warburton, Elders Joseph Morgan and William Caulton, of Salt Lake City; John Scowcroft, Joseph Hall, F.D. Richards, Mark Lindsay, Thomas Morley and Bishop Robert McQuarrie. The speakers bore testimony to the pure life, the uprightness and unflinching integerity of the deceased in the Church of God since their acquaintance with him, some of which extended over forty years.
James Crossley had fourteen children, fifteen grandsons, eleven of whom are living, eighteen granddaughters, five of whom are dead; also six great grandsons and ten great granddaughters, all living.
Joseph Hall
Millenial Star, please copy

Crossley, Joseph Heber

from WW I Civilian Draft Registrations
Bear Lake County, Idaho 1917 -1918

Crossley, James Ernest 29 Dec 1897 W relative lives Bear Lake Co. ID Bannock ID

Crossley, Joseph Heber 11 Mar 1896 W Newman ID Bear Lake ID

Crossley, William Henry 10 Nov 1875 W Bear Lake ID

Geneology - from Mary Jarvis Crossley six generations down to Arthur Crossley Ruger

Mary Jarvis Crossley, survivor along with 3 of her 4 children who accompanied her with the Martin handcart company in 1856, over six generations of descendants right down to present day Arthur Crossley Ruger (living).

Mary Jarvis Crossley gravesite

link at find a grave - gravesite Bountiful Memorial Park, Bountiful,Utah

Mary Jarvis Crossley

Birth: Nov. 5, 1811, England
Death: May 1, 1880
Utah, USA
Bountiful Memorial Park
Davis County
Utah, USA

Ephraim Jarvis Crossley, Martin Handcart Company, at age 5

                                               Ephraim Jarvis Crossley   
                                              son of Mary Jarvis Crossley, Martin Handcart Company

Ephraim Jarvis Crossley

Birth:Jun. 4, 1850
Lancashire, England
Death:Aug. 21, 1917
Bear Lake County
Idaho, USA

Spouse - Keziah Hall
Father - James Crossley
Mother - Mary Jarvis
Liberty Cemetery
Liberty (Bear Lake County)
Bear Lake County
Idaho, USA

Joseph Ephraim Crossley

                                 Joseph Ephraim Crossley
                                 son of Ephraim Jarvis Crossley, grandson of Mary Jarvis Crossley

Joseph Ephraim Crossley

Birth:Aug. 20, 1872
South Cottonwood
Salt Lake County
Utah, USA
Death:Aug. 23, 1936

Spouse is Rhoda Amelia Skinner. Father is Ephraim Crossley and mother is Cosiah Hall. Photos courtesy of Karen and Gerald Skinner.

Family links:
Camilla Crossley Johnson (1899 - 1989)*

Skinner Cemetery
Bear Lake County
Idaho, USA

Joseph Heber Crossley

son of Joseph Ephraim Crossley, son of Ephraim Jarvis Crossley, son of Mary Jarvis Crossley

Joseph Heber Crossley

Birth:Mar. 11, 1896
Bear Lake County
Idaho, USA
Death:Jun. 15, 1969
Bannock County
Idaho, USA

Spouse is Martha Catherine Johnson. Father is Joseph Ephraim Crossley and mother is Rhoda Amelia Skinner. Photos courtesy of Karen and Gerald Skinner.
Skinner Cemetery
Bear Lake County
Idaho, USA

Cora Lanor Crossley Ruger

                                     photo of her while she was still living, she died in 1988

Cora Lanor Crossley,

Birth March 2, 1925

Death Nov 21, 1988

daughter of Joseph Heber Crossley and Martha Catherine Johnson. Married Arthur Conrad Ruger Jr. (born March 2, 1921, died April 13, 1992)

Cora Lanor is great, great granddaughter of Mary Jarvis Crossley

Cora, beloved mother of Arthur Crossley, Randy C., Adrian C., Cinda Lou

Arthur Crossley Ruger

Arthur Crossley Ruger is still living, along with his two brothers, Randy C., and Adrian C. and his sister Cinda Lou

Arthur Crossley Ruger

Born: August 20, 1946
Soda Springs, Idaho

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