They Required My Assistance

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“Levi Savage…was I think the best help we had — resolute and determined. His whole sould was for the salvation of our company.” –William Woodward

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From his efforts with the Mormon Battalion in 1846-47, to his missionary activities in Burma from 1852-56, to his faithful service in the Willie handcart company and to the end of his life, Levi Savage, Jr. was known for faithfulness in serving others.

A 36-year-old widower, Levi Savage was returning to Utah and his young son from his mission when he was asked to be a leader in the Willie handcart company. On July 11, 1856, Levi recorded his response to this request: Today, agreeable to council, I reported myself to Brother Daniel Spencer, the agent for forwarding the Saints. He requires my assistance, and I commenced.

The company left Iowa City and traveled 300 miles on the first leg of their journey. When the company reached Florence, Nebraska Territory, there was another meeting held to discuss the viability of continuing the last 1,000 miles of their journey. Levi Savage felt that proceeding was too risky. The day after arriving in Florence, he wrote: 

Many are going to stop, others are faltering, and I myself am not in favor or, but much opposed to taking women & children through, destitute of clothing, when we all know that we are bound to be caught in the snow, and severe cold weather, long before we reach the valley.

With many people uncertain about what to do, the emigration leaders in Florence called another meeting. These men “addressed the saints and exhorted them to go forward regardless of consequences,” Levi wrote.¬† The next day, about 400 of the original 500 members of the Willie company began moving west from Florence. Faithful to his duty as a subcaptain, Levi Savage was among them.

Although Levi Savage had disagreed with the decision to move forward from Florence, he had worked tirelessly to fulfill his duties as subcaptain. Recognizing his efforts, fellow subcaptain¬† William Woodward later wrote, “Levi Savage…was I think the best help we had—resolute and determined. His whole soul was for the salvation of our company.

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