Margaretta Unwin Clark happened on a street meeting as she returned home at the end of a day’s work in a factory in bustling, prosperous Nottingham. The missionaries proclaimed beliefs that were so natural to Margaretta, so plausible, that they seemed to fit her like a comforting garment. Her feeling told her these things were true. She determined to learn more. On 25 September, 1848, Charles Lees, a missionary, baptized Margaretta Clark.
Margaretta wanted her family to join the Church. Perhaps through her example and coaxing, the missionaries baptized her young sister Mary Ann on 10 October, 1848, and her older sister Ann in the fall of 1851. Father John, brother William, and sister Eliza, declined. As Margaretta met with the few members of the Church in Nottingham and was taught more fully by the missionaries, she yearned to go to Utah to meet the Prophet Brigham Young and to live with the Saints. But even as she dreamed of a new life, the pain of leaving her family and her native England, never to return, caught her in a tangle of conflicting emotions. Besides, she had no money for such an expensive venture. Nevertheless, the desire to emigrate began to rule.
To earn more, Margaretta changed her job from factory to hospital. Margaretta continuously disciplined herself to save a little money from her wages to emigrate. But she also allowed the purchase of items for her hope chest, perhaps linens for a future home, as well as new dressed and hats, clothing befitting a handsome young English woman going to a foreign country. Margaretta wanted to look fine in America. Over the years she had saved the substantial sum of eight pounds British. But it was not enough.
Margaretta hoped to participate in the Perpetual Emmigration Fund. She worked and saved and waited. Finally, James Tanner and William Terrace, probably missionaries, notified her that she had been accepted. The ship Horizon was setting sail from Liverpool. The cost for her entire transportation across land and sea was nine British pounds. On 7 May, 1856, Margaretta paid eight pounds and the PEF paid one pound. Both excited and sorrowful, she left home and family. She went alone except for a few Mormon girls she knew. The hope that perhaps Ann and Mary Ann, even though they had married, would some day follow her, diminished the sorrow of leaving home and family.
The Horizon sailed on 25 May, 1856. The next day on the Atlantic Ocean, Margaretta turned twenty-eight years old. The train arrived in the United States about a month later, and then Margaretta boarded a trail to Iowa City.
Margaretta joined the Edward Martin handcart company. Because she was only allowed 17 pounds of luggage for the handcart, Margaretta had to leave many of the prized purchases of her wardrobe and hope chests on the plains.
Margaretta Clark and Edward Martin Company left Florence, Nebraska on 25 August, 1856 with 1,000 miles to go, and half of that over the continent’s backbone of mountains.
Early winter brought tragedy for the company, and Margaretta stayed in Martin’s Cove with the rest of the company. Flour rations feel to only four ounces, but many people remained hopeful and cheerful.
The rescue group, sent by Brigham Young, rescued Margaretta and the rest of the company. Anson Call came as part of the rescue group and found the company at their limit of existence. They rejoiced when they saw that someone had come to save them.
Margaretta rode in Anson Call’s wagon. While drivers were arranging for their loads of equipment a few person items, Anson happened to look through he back of his wagon and saw Margaretta gnawing on a piece of frozen squash which he intended to feed his horse. He realized as he watched her sitting there in very thin clothing in the frigid temperature, that she was freezing, and he told her so. “Oh, no sir,” she replied. “I have been quite cold but am comfortable now.” Anson recognized this last stage of freezing in which the victim does not feel the cold anymore. He forced her out of the wagon and made her run through the snow until her blood circulated again.
Later, Margaretta decided to marry Anson Call, her rescuer. On 7 February, 1857, Anson Call and Margaretta Unwin Clark and drove to Salt Lake to the office of Brigham Young where he sealed them as man and wife.