As I mentioned, Familysearch.org compiled a list of "my" "ancestral" "pioneers." But, well, I couldn't find all of them in my actual family tree. I'm working on that, but I did find that a certain Luman Shurtliff (on my mom's maternal side) crossed the plains with his family, including a son named Noah Luman Surtliff (who is next in the line to me) in 1851 with the Easton Kelsey Company. One lead to follow!
Make that two leads: Noah L Shurtliff, who I mentioned above, is my great-grandma Epperson's grandpa, and her other grandpa named William Atkinson* also crossed the plains with the Mormon pioneers. In fact, he led his own company in 1853, the William Atkinson Company. Good one, Will! Along the way, according to his memory, he met lots of friendly Indians and buffalo, or at least the Indians were friendly.
He also "traveled with the mail" from Salt Lake to San Bernadino and back in 1856 with the John McDonald Company. Just him and three buddies, hanging out with the mail? Probably not but I don't know the details. I, of all people, could understand this, considering how much I love mail, but I think there must be more to the story than that. He is also listed as traveling with two other wagon companies, and also the Rescue Companies who were sent to bring in the Martin and Willie Handcart companies in the fall of 1856, as well as two wagon companies at the same time. It isn't clear which company he was sent to help, but the story of the stranded companies breaks my heart every time I hear or think of it.
I'm so glad to know about Mr. Atkinson. My kids are for sure going to hear about this one.
*Also, just to make more connections, this William Atkinson had a son, Thomas, who married into my path to the Mayflower ancestors of Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland. His wife's name was Ruth Simmons. Ruth's mom was a Chipman, which is the line that connects to the common ancestor Nate and I have (Amos Chipman).