George Waugh was born in 1789 in Scotland. A great traveler, his two daughters were born abroad: one in the Jersey Isles and one in Jamaica. Thanks to the Church mission in Scotland, he converted to the gospel in 1840, with the rest of his family following within a short period of time. After one of his daughters died in 1851, followed by his wife’s passing shortly thereafter, George accompanied his remaining daughter, Elizabeth, and her daughter across the ocean and to the Salt Lake Valley.1
He didn’t remain in Zion for long, however. Seeking to complete the work he had begun in his native land, “Father” Waugh returned to Scotland in 1853 to serve a mission for the Church he loved so much. After serving faithfully for three years, he embarked upon a return journey to rejoin his family in the Utah Territory. The trans-Atlantic journey got off to a late start, but George was instrumental in keeping spirits high – his fellow traveler, John Jaques, remarked that despite his advancing age George was “lively as a cricket.” Upon arrival in the United States the emigrants journeyed by rail to Iowa City, Iowa, where they joined Captain Edward Martin’s handcart company.
Despite arriving at the Mormon outpost of Florence, Nebraska nearly a month late, the company faithfully decided to make the journey west, trusting in the Lord. Along the way, George Waugh was again responsible for raising morale of his fellow Saints, and he took particular care of ensuring that the old and infirm were taken care of.
15-year-old Josiah Rogerson wrote:
“Father George P. Waugh, then between 65 and 70 years of age, would be seen and heard calling between the tents for his company to muster between 7 and 7:30 a.m. These consisted of all the aged that could walk at all, and not required to pull at the carts; our fathers and mothers from 45 to 86. Away they would start ahead of our seven wagons and the carts, singing and talking and cheering each other with the hallowed reminiscences of the early days of the gospel in the British isles, and the days of Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt and Willard Richards.”
He remained faithful when the Saints were stranded on the Wyoming plains by fierce October blizzards, and even after the handcart company had distributed the very last of the rations, he reaffirmed his willingness to lay down his life for the Lord. Rescue arrived, and the company was saved, but George Waugh had given all his energies to helping his fellow Saints reach Zion: he had made good on his willingness to give his life to the Lord, as he died within sight of the Salt Lake Valley on November 29, 1856.
1George Peden Waugh, tellmystorytoo.com
2Handcart Pioneer – George P. Waugh