As told by President Scott Lorimer of the Riverton Wyoming Stake
In 1991, the people of the Riverton Stake in Wyoming were very busy doing the temple work for the pioneers of the Martin and Willie handcart companies; they called this project the Second Rescue. During this time the stake presidency received about 6000 letters from people and relatives concerning the work that was under way. After a story ap peared in the Church News, thousands more letters arrived. It is through such a letter that the story of Sarah Anne Franks and George Paddley was discovered.
One of President Scott Lorimer’s counsel ors received a call from a lady in Rexburg, Idaho asking for their help in finding the name of the fiancé of her great-grandmother. They had come from England with the Martin Com pany in 1856 and he had died at Martin’s Cove. In searching the ship’s log, they found Sarah Anne Franks, a single woman traveling as sort of a nanny with a family who had five children. But there was no information about a young man traveling with them. They de cided to check for any single men from her hometown traveling on the ship and found there were nine. This didn’t help much so they checked to see if any of them had died at Martin’s Cove. There were three. By this time, President Lorimer was ready to send what information they had found back to the family and let them worry about which one he was, his counselors, however, wanted to fin ish the job, but they didn’t know where to go from there.
Four weeks later President Lorimer re ceived a letter from a man in Johannesburg, South Africa who had also seen the article in the Church News. Enclosed was a copy of four pages of his great-grandfather’s journal. As he read the pages about 10:00 one night, a single line jumped out a him. It read, “Sarah Anne Franks is betrothed to George Paddley.” He immediately called his counselor and asked what the names of those three men were. They couldn’t remember so they left their beds and went to the stake house to check it out. George Paddley was the fourth from the last person to board the ship before it left England.
When President James E. Faust heard this story he called it the greatest love story of our time. Sarah and George were in their early 20’s. They met because some missionaries came to England to preach the gospel of Je sus Christ. They were each baptized, they at tended church, met and fell in love. The wanted to be married. They had been taught about the temple and the sealing ordinances they could receive there. They chose to come to America, to Utah, to be married and sealed in the Endowment House for all eternity.
They made it across the Ocean, and then across the plains to the North Platte River where they met the blizzard of 1856. George Paddley spent most of the day in the river helping the people of his company dodge huge chunks of ice as they tried to get to the other side and continue their journey to Salt Lake. He got chilled and came down with hy pothermia but he recovered and went on to Martin’s Cove another 150 to 160 miles. There the terrible conditions overcame him and he gave up his mortal life.
Sarah Anne Franks loved George Paddley, she loved him a lot. You can read in the jour nals how they dug trenches in the snow to bury the dead because the ground was too frozen. They did the best they could with the bodies. You can read about the snapping and growling of the wolves as they fought over and carried off the bodies. Sarah didn’t want George to be eaten by the wolves. She took what was probably one of the only things she had to stay warm, her shawl, and asked the brethren to wrap him in it and hang his body in the trees. When she got to Salt Lake and learned that in the spring the brethren were going back to retrieve supplies left behind she asked them to find George’s body and give him a proper burial. But, when they went back to Martin’s Cove the only thing they found was the shawl. They brought it back to her and her family has it still today.
Sarah had some frozen toes and fingers. She was taken to the home of Thomas Mackey where she was nursed back to health. She eventually became the thirdplural wife of Thomas Mackey. She raised a won derful family and was an obedient and faithful member of the church for the rest of her life.
That was the end of the story for almost 138 years until one day President Lorimer and his counselors of the Riverton Stake had a special visitor. President James E. Faust vis ited Martin’s Cove and was told the story of Sarah and George. Tears rolled down Presi dent Faust’s cheeks as he listened to their story, they just wouldn’t stop. Finally he asked, “Did you seal Sarah Anne Franks to George Paddley?” The said no, they couldn’t. She had been sealed to Thomas Mackey. She had children with him and they were sealed to her. President Faust said, “You go back to the Logan Temple and seal Sarah Anne Franks to George Paddley. You give her a choice.” At that time, this kind of thing could not be done without special permission from the 1st Pres idency. A woman could only be sealed to one man. It has been changed since then for cer tain situations. They went back and she is now sealed to both men. We don’t know how this will all work out in the eternities. Presi dent Lorimer said that he knows that Sarah Anne Franks loves George Paddley and that he loves her and her children. He knows that the only reason they were not sealed for eter nity was because George gave his life to save the lives of other people in his company.
That was the end of the story again...for a while. In the year 2000, President Lorimer re ceived another letter. It was a copy of Sarah Anne Franks Mackey’s Patriarchal Blessing. In it was a tremendous promise. Sarah did not receive her blessing until she was 72 years old. She had raised a good family, she had been endowed and sealed in the Temple. There were no other temple ordinances that she could have received yet this is what the Patriarch told her in the blessing: “Sarah, you will be allowed the privilege of returning to the House of the Lord and receiving the ordinance that awaits you.” How could that Patriarch have known that 100 years later she would be given the opportunity of being sealed to her first love, George Paddley, in the Temple of the Lord.