William Tait was born in Ireland to John Tait and Mary McGuire or Maguire. William was baptized in Ireland by Parley P. Pratt. William joined the British Army and was sent to India. Elizabeth Xavier was born in Bombay, India. Her father was an apothecary at the British Hospital in Bombay. She met and married William Tait, an English soldier, who taught and baptized her into the Mormon Church. William and their oldest son John left India to join the saints in Utah in 1855. They went around Cape Horn and landed in San Francisco and made their way to Utah. Elizabeth waited until after the birth of their daughter, Mary Ann, to make the journey to join her family. Elizabeth and Mary traveled from Bombay to Liverpool and then to Iowa City. Mary died in Iowa City and Elizabeth was so disheartened that she wanted to go back to India. She finally decided to go west and ended up in the Willie Handcart Company. Her and another lady joined together and pulled their way toward Utah.
The Willie company left Iowa City late due to the late arrival of the saints and trouble getting supplies and handcarts. As they made their way west, their supplies ran low, they were living off of about four ounces of flour per adult and less per child. They were tired and weary and struggling due to the hardship of the trek and very little food. They then ran into an early snow storm as they reached the Rocky Mountains. They did not have warm clothes or good shoes. Members of the company started to die due to their poor conditions. When the Church leaders in Salt Lake found out that there were members out on the plains, they sent out a call for rescuers and all the help that could be mustered.
William and his son John were in the rescue party that was sent to help the Saints stranded in Wyoming. They did not know that their wife and mother was in the company that they left to rescue. Their reunion was very bitter sweet as they gave great thanks for the life of Elizabeth and mourned the loss of their children William James Tait (he died in India) and Mary Ann Tait.
They settled in southern Utah where Elizabeth faced many prejudices because of her dark skin and became the first teacher in their little town.
Rocky Ridge Wyoming Video ~ 31 July 2008
Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater
Willie Handcart Journal Entries
go to August 5, 1856 and click on "view all" or "view more"
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From the Sounds of Zion CD - Go Bring Them In—Celebrating the Spirit of Trek
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by John William Uhler