Margaret Wood

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Margaret Wood (Campbell)

Also Known As: "Campbell"
Birthdate: (83)
Birthplace: Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Death: June 30, 1893 (83)
American Fork, Utah County, Utah Territory, United States
Place of Burial: American Fork, Utah County, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Cook and Rachel Cook
Wife of Thomas Kirkwood and John Wood
Mother of Margaret Kirkwood; Robert Campbell Kirkwood; Thomas Kirkwood; Katherine Kirkwood; James Kirkwood and 2 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Margaret Wood

Margaret Cuisbuill Kirkwood (1809 - ), widow of Thomas Kirkwood, emigrated to Utah in 1856 with her four sons.


Daughter of Robert Campbell and Catherine Baxter

Married Thomas Kirkwood, 12 May 1832, Kilbrarchen, Renfrew, Scotland

Children - Catherine Kirkwood, James Kirkwood, Thomas Kirkwood, Margaret Kirkwood, Joseph Smith Campbell Kirkwood, Robert Campbell Kirkwood

Married John Wood, 25 March 1857, American Fork, Utah, Utah

Biography - This is the biography of Margaret Campbell Kirkwood, daughter of Robert and Catherine Campbell. She was born August 9, 1809 in Kilbarchan, Parish of Kilbarchan Renfrewshire, Scotland. She married Thomas Kirkwood of Bridge-of-Wier, Scotland in the year 1833.

Margaret was baptized by Alec Wright April 1, 1840 in Bridge-of-Wier, thus becoming a member of the Latter Day Saint church. Her first child, a son, Robert Campbell was born August 14, 1834, then Thomas born February 25, 1837, Margaret born 1840 and died 1852, Katherine born August 24, 1842, died February 27, 1852, James born February 13, 1845, died October 1856 on the plains of Wyoming and the youngest child, Joseph, born June 21, 1851.

Mrs. Kirkwood lost two daughter and her husband after a lingering illness leaving her to care for four children and to support them. Thomas, her second child was injured in an accident on the street in Glasglow and was unable to walk again.

In the meantime the gospel again was sent to her home by Joseph Clements, a missionary. In the spring of 1856, she left with her four sons the land of Scotland for Brammerly, More Docks, Liverpool, England, arriving May 1st. They sailed with 753 other saints on the ship “Thorton” Sunday, May 4th, commanded by Captain Collins enroute to America. They were six weeks in making the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

They landed at Castle Gardens, New York, June 17, 1856, under the directions of James G. Willie. They were received by President John Taylor and Elder Felt. They started for Dunkirk or Albany, New York, which was 460 miles away, and arrived on June 19th by steamboat. They boarded the Chicago Rock Island and Davenport Railroad and arrived at Iowa City, or Iowa Hill, June 26th. Here they halted for sixteen days waiting for handcarts to be made. Many were poor and without money to purchase ways of transportation.

The handcart project was a very popular idea in England and created much enthusiasm especially among those who had been unable to raise enough money to emigrate. Horses were a premium, so small carts were made to be pulled by the pioneers. This was the fourth handcart company to be organized, thus making a dramatic chapter in history. It was filled with heroism, loyalty, and devotion crossing the plains to Utah.

The Company was organized of 504 souls. With each 100 people, there were twenty handcarts, 5 tents, 3 or 4 milch cows, a wagon with three yoke of oxen to convey the provisions, and tents. The quantity of clothing and bedding was limited to 17 lbs per capita. Each cart, including cooking utensils, would weigh about 100 pounds. Mrs. Kirkwood sold most of her precious belongings, including her beautiful handwork, to obtain money for her handcart and supplies.

They left Iowa City, July 15th, some 14 days ahead of the Martin Company. With July weather they made all the haste possible, and arrive 26 days later at Florence, Nebraska, then called Winter Quarters on August 10th. Here they held a meeting to decide whether they should encamp for the winter, or continue their journey for they had 1300 miles to travel, wading rivers, crossing deserts, and climbing mountains. The company was made up of a large number of aged and infirm women and children which would make it difficult to cross mountains so late in the season.

Mr Savage, who understood the western conditions, pleaded with the saints to encamp for the winter, but the majority voted to journey on. They left Winter Quarters and traveled to Fort Kearney. At first they could travel 15 miles a day, although delays were caused by breaking of unseasoned wheels and axles of the crude made handcarts. The heat of the plains speedily making many of the cart wheels rickety and unable to sustain their burdens without frequent repairs. Some shod the axles of the carts with old leather, others with tin from the plates and kettles of their mess outfits. For grease, they used their allowance of bacon and even their soap of which they had little.

As the season progressed and the nights became cold, it became apparent that the trek would be a race between handcart emigrants and the coming winter. To hasten their progress all surplus equipment, such as bedding, clothing and supplies were discarded along the trail.

On reaching Woodriver, they met with the Cheyenne Indians who stampeded their draft cattle with a herd of buffalo and 30 head were lost. They camped several days on Willow Creek and searched the country over for 40 miles, but were unable to find them. Their travel was greatly hindered, placing the company not less than 125 miles behind schedule. The remainder of the oxen being only sufficient to allow one yoke to each wagon. The beef cattle, milch cows and heifers were of little service, it was found necessary to place another sack of flour on each cart, and again discard supplies. The issue of beef was stopped, the cows gave no more milk and the daily rations were reduced to 1 lb of flour with a little rice, sugar, and bacon. An allowance which only furnished breakfast for the men and they had to fast the remainder of the day. But they continued courageously on daring not to stop, traveling on the Fort Laramie.

On Friday September 12th at Bluff Creek, the Willie Company was overtaken by Apostle F. D. Richards, who presided over the Church emigration in the year of 1856. In the light wagon with Richards were Grant and Kimble who were on their way to Salt Lake City. Apostle Richards wrote as follows: “We overtook and camped with Brother Willie’s Company, consisting of 504 persons, 6 wagons, 87 handcarts, 6 yoke of oxen, 32 cows and 5 mules. They were considerably weakened by the loss of their oxen, which they failed to recover, but were in good spirits and averaging 15 to 16 miles a day. We forded the Platte River to the south side and were followed by the handcarts. Never was a more soul stirring sight than the party and the passage of this Company over the river. Several of the carts were drawn entirely by women, yet their hearts were glad and full of hope.”

On October 22nd as Mrs. Kirkwood and her eldest son Robert pushed and pulled their carts, which contained 300 lbs beside a crippled son, Thomas, who was 19 years old, with the other emigrants, they encountered a terrible storm. It was a downpour of rain and the thunder was so fearful that the earth on which they stood fairly trembled. The vivid lightning flashed in streaks as they crossed the Rocky Ridge a little east of the South Pass. But they pressed on bravely at top speed as they traveled along the banks of Sweetwater, Wyoming. The rain turned to snow, and zero temperatures with the wind blowing furiously. They were forced to camp between two mountains in a sheltered place in Rock Creek Hollow.

They built a crude shelter of shale rock against the hillside to wait for rescue or death in snow two feet deep. This was the most disastrous day so far of the journey and because of hunger and exposure, some would pull their carts all day and die at night. Mrs. Kirkwood’s two youngest sons, James, eleven years old, and Joseph, four years old, having walked most of the way, were exhausted and were left behind. They walked in snow all night to reach camp, and as they arrived the next morning at the campfire, James fell dead due to starvation and exhaustion. He was buried in a grave with 13 others on the banks of the Sweet Water. After they were buried, two more died and were buried in another grave nearby.

A marker has been placed over this in memory of the Willie Handcart Co. The inscription on number 27 marker as follows: “Captain James G Willie’s Handcart Co. of the Mormon emigrants on the way to Utah. Greatly exhausted by the deep snows of the early winter and suffering from lack of food and clothing had assembled here for reorganization by relief parties from Utah about the end of October 1856. Thirteen persons were frozen to death during a single night and were buried in one grave two others died and were buried nearby of a company of 404 persons. Seventy seven perished before help arrived. The survivors reached Salt Lake City on November 9, 1856.”

After Mrs. Kirkwood lost her son, she had the terrible experience of losing the sight of her right eye, which she had frozen in the severe temperature of 18 degrees below zero. She was advised to use hot mud packs in hope of relief, but the eyeball was broken, and there was no medical help. She had to suffer until nature took its course, and that took many days to heal.

Mrs. Kirkwood’s story of Joseph’s life being saved from starvation on account of him eating a loaf of bread that was placed in bed with them at night to protect it from freezing. Joseph knew he should not touch it, but he was so hungry and he thought he would just take a pinch of bread and no more. The temptation was too great for such a small child and by morning, Mrs. Kirkwood and her three sons’ days rations had disappeared.

They could see the snow-clad ranges far to the west amid the clear frosty atmosphere of the desert. There were many, who, while gazing on this scene, did not expect to see the light of another day. There were many of them who cared no longer for they had lost all that made life precious. They returned to their shelters and commended themselves to their Maker, lay down to rest- perchance to die.

Unusually early winter set in that year, and when it became apparent that winter was starting early, relief parties were hurriedly organized in Salt Lake City after Apostle Richards’ report came. A Company taking with them clothing, bedding, and provisions, and at the risk of their lives, went to the rescue of emigrants struggling in the snowdrifts along the Sweetwater. As the small company of scouts from the Willie Company were camped at noon for rest, they sighted a light wagon coming from the west. The occupants were Joseph A Young, Daniel Jones and Abel Garr. They informed Captain Willie that a train of supplies were on the way and to expect to meet them in a day or two. More welcome messengers never came from the courts of Glory than these three young men. They lost no time to speed eastward to the Martin Company who were also in terrible distress.

The storm which the scouts encountered, and also the relief train, and not knowing the Willie Company were so destitute, they encamped to wait fine weather. When Captain Willie located them and explained their conditions, they at once hitched up the teams, and made all speed to their rescue. On the evening of the 3rd day after Willie’s scouts departure, and just as the sun was sinking behind the distant hills, and west of the camp on the 21st of October, several wagons each drawn by four horses were seen coming.

The news ran through the camp like wild fire, and all who were able to leave their beds turned out to meet them. Shouts of joy rent the air, strong men wept till tears ran freely down their furrowed, sun-burnt cheeks, and little children partook of the joy which some of them hardly understood, and fairly danced around with gladness.

Restraint was set aside in the general rejoicing, and as the brethren entered the camp, the sisters fell upon them and deluged them with kisses. The brethren were so overcome that they could not for sometime utter a word. In choking silence, they repressed all demonstration of those emotions that evidently mastered them. Soon, however, feeling was somewhat abated, and such a shaking of hands, such words of welcome, and such invocation of God’s blessings have seldom been witnessed. Seventy seven souls perished before help came, but after several days they were able to gain enough strength to continue their journey westward.

Songs were sung on their journey to encourage each other to keep up the moral of the saints. Original lines composed by different ones of the Company was to create amusement for each other. The following verses are a sample of what they sang.

“Some will push, some with pull As we go pushing up the hill, So merrily on the way we go Until we reach the valley O.” “Hurrah! for the camp of Israel Hurrah! for the handcart team Hurrah! Hurrah its better by far Than a wagon and ox team.”

This company arrived in Salt Lake City Sunday November 9, 1856 with great rejoicing when they beheld the valley of the Great Salt Lake. They were treated very kindly by the saints, and later in the winter, the Kirkwood family was assigned to go to American Fork to reside.

Their first home was that of John Wood, grandfather of the late Rose Penrod. Later in 1856, Margaret Kirkwood married John Wood in the Old endowment House in Salt Lake City. The family moved into a two room adobe house that stood where Mrs. Nellie Bassetts’ home is situated. It was here she lost her crippled 22 year old son, Thomas. He died August 23, 1859. Her eldest son, Robert, had left home to seek employment. He married Mary Matthews July 1860, 2nd wife, Elizabeth Cook, October 1860, and the 3rd wife, Eliza Cook, a sister of Elizabeth in January 17, 1869. They were the parents of 30 children, the family homes being in Provo.

On December 31, 1872 her husband, John Wood, passed away, leaving Margaret a widow for the second time. On July 1, 1880 her son, Joseph, married Alice Pulley in the old Endowment House in Salt Lake City and they made their home with his mother until she was taken by death 13 years later. She was the mother of six children.

Margaret Kirkwood Wood was small and frail of stature, not measuring five feet in height. She had courage, hope and a true testimony of the gospel to leave her home and all that was near and dear to her, with her four children alone in the world among strange people to seek a new home in a strange country.

When the Kirkwood family became members of the Latter Day Saint church, Margaret was disowned by her prominent family in Scotland, who were fabric designers, and also by the Kirkwood family. Mrs. Kirkwood made the statement many times that if it was necessary she would go through all the hardships and heartaches again for the gospel sake.

She was eccentric in her ways, but a very nice, pretty woman and a wonderful neighbor. She was always anxious to learn the American way of life, and would ask her neighbors how to prepare and cook food for the table.

Mrs. Kirkwood wasn’t blessed with much of the world’s goods, but she never complained for she felt like she had more here than if she had stayed in Scotland. Her humble home in Glasgow was always open to missionaries, which gave her much spiritual joy.

Margaret passed away at the age of 83 years, leaving two sons, and was buried June 30, 1893 in American Fork City Cemetery Thus closing a very colorful life.

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, James G. Willie Company (1856); Age at departure: 46

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Margaret Wood's Timeline

August 9, 1809
Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Scotland
May 16, 1832
Age 22
Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, Scotland
August 4, 1834
Age 24
Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, Scotland
February 25, 1837
Age 27
Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, Scotland
June 2, 1839
Age 29
Newcastle Under Lyme, Lancashire, England
August 24, 1842
Age 33
Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland, United Kingdom
February 13, 1845
Age 35
Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland
June 21, 1851
Age 41
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
June 30, 1893
Age 83
American Fork, Utah County, Utah Territory, United States