The story behind this painting is referenced from the Relief Society Magazine ®Pioneer Women® pg. 8 January 1948. See also the devotional address given in the de Jong Concert Hall at Brigham Young University on 11 August, 1981 by Vaughn J. Featherstone, ®Go and Bring In Those People Now on the Plains® (We Are Our Brother's Keepers).
®The Cart Began Pushing Me®
President David O. McKay, in an address given at an annual Relief Society Conference in 1947, the centennial year of the Saints' arrival in the valley, talked of the criticism given by a teacher conducting a class, who commented that it was very unwise to have even permitted the Saints to cross the plains under such circumstances, and they were talking about the Willie and Martin handcart companies who left later then they should have. President McKay said:
Some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies of protection than a handcart caravan afforded. An old man in the corner [and this was written by President William Palmer, who was present] sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spike calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.
In substance the father above mentioned said, ®I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized of left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.®
®I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.® [And a wife with a baby in her arms by his side]. ®I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.®
®Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then no any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.®