Our Australian Legacy
In 1852, my great-great grandparents, Henry and Sarah Wills Gale, were among the first join the Church in Australia. Within a year, they departed with their four children and other Church members to America. The oldest child, Elizabeth, my great-grandmother, was eight years old.
After nine weeks on the Pacific Ocean, they arrived in Los Angeles where Church leaders met and took them to San Bernardino. On the second day of travel, one of the women took the children out to gather wildflowers while others prepared the evening meal. After the meal, someone said, “Where is Jim Gale?” They realized he had not returned to camp with the other children. The search, with torches and lanterns, continued all night and until mid-morning the next day but they couldn’t find him. They thought that he had been eaten by wild animals. The water supply was very low and the decision was made for the wagons to move on.
Jim’s mother, Sarah, said she wouldn’t go on without her son. Trying to persuade her, they unloaded her trunk and moved on. Later, some of the company returned to try and persuade her once more that it was no use to hunt longer. They saw her kneeling in prayer by the trunk. She arose with confidence and asked the brethren to go out once again up a gully a short distance where they would find him. With an unwilling attitude, they went. There they found six-year old, dirty, tear-stained and sunburned Jim still holding a wilted bunch of flowers in his hand. They took him back to his mother where they all knelt in a prayer of thanksgiving then hurriedly moved forward catch up with the rest of the party.
The Gale’s stayed in San Bernardino until 1857 then moved to Beaver, Utah. Henry and Sarah remained in Beaver for the rest of their lives until he died in 1891 and she in 1905. When the St. George Temple was dedicated in 1877, they went by team and wagon camping out nearby until they could do the work for all their ancestors for whom they had the information to do so. Their son Jim wrote, “They were always true and faithful to their religious convictions going through the trials and persecutions that were required of them in those days.”
Their daughter, Elizabeth, married William Decatur Kartchner and were among the first pioneers in northern Arizona. Their daughter, Minnie Kartchner Stratton, was my grandmother, and mother to Irene Stratton Flake.
Our family legacy ties back more than 160 years ago to Australia, to Henry and Sarah Gale that had the courage to hear the truth, withstand persecution, join the Church, and move halfway around the world to be with the Saints where they faithfully kept their covenants for the rest of their lives. Surely the Lord will bless us, as their posterity, as we strive to keep the commandments.
Garry R. Flake