Elizabeth Simpson Haigh Bradshaw was born into a family of wealth. Although she was orphaned at age nine, she continued to be raised as a child of privilege. By the time Elizabeth was 48 years old, she had been widowed twice, had five living children and had longed to emigrate to Zion for 16 years. Although her brothers tried to persuade her to remain in England, promising to care for her and educate her children, she turned to them and said, “I am going to Zion.”

In Iowa City, Elizabeth gave away most of the things she brought from England to other members of the Martin Handcart Company and packed the remaining items in her family handcart. With a burning faith in God and a Priesthood blessing promising she would take all of her children to Zion, Elizabeth “took up her march to the Valleys of Ephraim” as was their cry. At the last crossing of the icy North Platte River on Oct. 19, 1856, the first early winter storm began. The river was swift and deep. Elizabeth, with her 6-year-old son, Richard, perched on her shoulders, was swept off her feet and downstream in the crossing. Several on the banks called out to her, “Let the boy go . . . or you will both be drowned. Save yourself . . .”

She refused to give them heed and struggled on until she finally made it to the opposite side whereupon she immediately raised her right arm to the square as a witness she then bore to the waiting crowd that God had protected and saved her and her son. Elizabeth’s daughter, Sarah Ann Haigh, also carried 16 people across the river on this day, thus becoming a heroine to many. As conditions became worse for the company, Elizabeth’s son, Samuel Haigh, was one day brought into camp and pronounced dead. Elizabeth still believed the promise that she would take all of her children to Zion. She invited the Elders to anoint him with oil and administer to him. The Elders did so and Samuel recovered.

Judges 2:1: . . . I made you to go up . . . and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

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