Escape from Persecution
ON FEBRUARY 9, 1885, the first group of 14 polygamist families left their homes in the U.S. for old Mexico. Two weeks later, 24 more wagons departed. A few days after that, a third caravan of 44 wagons headed for a land of refuge. All told, 350 Mormons departed the Snowflake area of Arizona, seeking a warmer reception to the South.
“This month and part of April I have been obliged to hide from the US deputies who are seeking me night and day to arrest me and drag me to prison for obeying the commandments of God, my Eternal Father. They came to my house and threatened to break down the doors if the folks did not open them immediately. They then ransacked the entire house, kicking the carpets and rugs about, trying to discover, as they imagined, some secret passage to a cellar or hiding place. Twice they came and found me not. They summoned my wife and four daughters to Beaver, 120 miles distant, to testify against me, and this is a Christian country where everyone has a right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience!” — George L. Walker, March and April, 1888
The caravans crossed the border and followed the San Francisco tributary of the Gila. Herding their livestock and transporting all they possessed over rough terrain, their travel was arduously slow. In early March, after two months of hard travel, the weary Saints arrived at Corralitos, Mexico. Tents and wagons became their homes for several months.
“Very soon we set out for Snowflake to prepare for our flight, not into Egypt, but to old Mexico. I never like to think of the night we started. We traveled until nearly midnight, according to the stars. We waited there until morning when Sullie had to go and get his first wife. That left me to drive the team and be my own boss. Before he left camp, they killed a couple of sheep and put them in my wagon on their backs. This was late January, and was it cold! The sheep froze stiff and I would have too, except for my heavy coat. Every time I looked around I could see those sheep’s legs in the air like clubs ready to strike. To add to the luxury of my “honeymoon” a snowstorm came. It was not welcome, but it came anyway.” — Amy Teressa Richardson