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Ten Things of Thankful: Pioneer Day Edition

Did you know that today (July 24th) is Pioneer Day?  No?  Well, let me introduce you to a little-known-outside-Utah-or-the-LDS-community holiday.


Image:  Painting depicting a line of pioneers, most walking and pulling handcarts, some driving wagons.  Source
Pioneer Day celebrates the day that the first group of Mormon settlers reached the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  When the church was organized in 1830, it was met with opposition, and members found themselves moving from state to state.  At one point, the governor of Missouri actually issued an extermination order for Mormons.  (Can you imagine?  I just can't wrap my head around that!) Eventually, the church moved west to the Salt Lake Valley.  

Some of those pioneers crossed the plains using oxen and wagons; others used handcarts and walked the 1000+ miles.  Though the vast majority of the pioneers reached their destination safely, there were certainly fatalities along the way--most notably in the Willie and Martin handcart companies.  Of the approximately 1000 people in those two companies, around 200 died.  (source) 

So, what are my thankfuls today?

I'm thankful for the examples set by those pioneers.  Faith, commitment, perseverance, dedication, integrity, fortitude, sacrifice, gratitude, hope, and love drove those men, women, and children forward even in the most difficult of circumstances.  They understood that as they kept near to God, all was well.  





I'm also thankful, of course, for John, who directly descends from Willie Handcart Company pioneers, and is a great example to me of the characteristics of his ancestors. 

Happy Pioneer Day!  What are you thankful for this week?


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Comments

  1. An extermination order!? Are you kidding me? Wow! Amazing for a place that started on religious freedom. Well I hope its a big celebration!

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    1. Nope, not kidding. http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Extermination_Order However, the order was rescinded in 1976, so I'm safe to travel to Missouri now. :-)

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    2. NINETEEN SEVENTY SIX!!!! WHY SOOOOO LONG?!

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    3. I think it was one of those laws that just got forgotten and left on the books, but it is nice that it has been rescinded. :-)

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    4. I was so taken aback by this whole thing ... I shared it at work today... everyone was appalled ... of course we are a bunch of bleeding hearts but still!!!!! ahhaa!

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    5. Yes, that history gives a bit of insight into why maintaining religious freedom is so important to the LDS people. Not that I'm fearing another extermination order, but still. . .

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    6. Sounds like fun, Dyanne! :-)

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  2. A happy Pioneer Day to you, Kristi! Fascinating and admirable how the early ancestors were willing to do so much for their beliefs. It is something we can all learn from indeed!

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    1. Their example reminds me not to take religious freedom for granted.

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  3. I so enjoyed listening to the Choir and watching the video. Faith, commitment, perseverance, dedication, integrity, fortitude, sacrifice, gratitude, hope, and love says it ALL.

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    1. That song, "Come, Come Ye Saints," was written by a man whose wife had just safely delivered a baby on the trail, and has become a well-loved hymn.

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  4. As a descendent of pioneers, I enjoyed your note today. My ancestors led the wagon train from Kansas to what is now Washington. I remember visiting Salt Lake City. We had just come through what was a large mountainous area, looked out at the lake and more mountains ahead, and I thought, I think I would say this was a good area too...no need to go further. It is beautiful there. The pioneers certainly had much to contend with, as I get tired just dealing with the interstate! I do love your list of good things..faith, commitment, perseverance, dedication, integrity, fortitude, sacrifice, gratitude, hope and love. A great list to keep handy !

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    1. Several years ago, John and I were "Pa" and "Ma" to a group of teens on a pioneer trek re-enactment. Of course, we didn't go nearly the distance the pioneers really traveled, but even those few short days we walked gave me such a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices they made. How wonderful that you have pioneer heritage!

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  5. Does John make handcarts? Probably no, but he works on cars, right? Happy Pioneer Day to you!

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    1. No, he doesn't make handcarts, but yes, he does have a project car in the garage. He and I did accompany teenagers from our church years ago on a pioneer trek re-enactment, though. We've both pushed and pulled a loaded handcart for miles, and have a deeper appreciation for what the pioneers went through!

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  6. I get a kick out of imagining what reality must have been like, back in those days... (even though I'm not a roger) there is something intriguing about trying to imagine the world as the people in those days (or in your example) experienced it. I suspect the 'world'* was fairly simple and small, which is not, in any way a negative characterization... more, it's an attempt to try and see what form the important/significant things in the average person's day took...
    (sorry, just remembered I'm in a Comment box).... Great Post!!
    lol
    * meaning of course, the personal reality of a individual in those times

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    1. I agree with you that life probably centered more on family and immediate community, yet I also think that the world itself seemed larger then than now. Advances in communication and transportation have made far-away places more accessible, and somehow "smaller" to the average person. Certainly the trip from England (where many of the Willie and Martin Handcart pioneers hailed from) to Utah made the the distance seem much further than it would seem in today's jet-setting world.

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  7. Happy Pioneer Day! I had never heard of the extermination order, so I had to look it up. Little factoid: I graduated from high school in the RLDS Auditorium in Independence. Several of the high schools in the KC area used it for graduation ceremonies, because our schools didn't have anything big enough (there were 400 in my class). (I know RLDS isn't the same as LDS.)

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    1. I don't think that the extermination order is taught in schools. :-) And while I of course do not condone the order, I can also understand the fear and uncertainty that must accompany a sudden influx of a large group of people with misunderstood beliefs.

      Someday I'd like to visit the Midwest and tour church history sites, like Liberty Jail in Independence, and Nauvoo, Illinois. Have you been to either place?

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    2. My parents have been to Nauvoo. They really enjoyed it. I don't think I've heard of the Liberty Jail.

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    3. https://history.lds.org/article/doctrine-and-covenants-liberty-jail?lang=eng
      Basically, Liberty Jail was where Joseph Smith and others were imprisoned for months.

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  8. I did not know about Pioneer Day. I knew about the persecution. I hate intolerance. I happy that Mormons found a haven to practice their religion.

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    1. Pioneer Day is a state holiday in Utah, but for those who live outside that state, and who aren't Mormon, July 24th would easily pass by unnoticed.

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  9. What a great little lesson, thank you!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the history lesson. :-)

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  10. I traveled near the Oregon Trail several times in the last week, and it made me ponder the determination and bravery of the pioneers. They were hardy individuals.

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  11. Life for the pioneers was so very different. Pretty sure most of us nowadays would not have the ability or fortitude to do the things the pioneers did. They are a great example for all of us, and a good reminder of how religious freedom is something to continue fighting for.

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    1. Each generation has its own challenges, but we definitely can learn from those that have gone before.

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  12. Thank you for sharing that interesting little snippet of history. It must have been a very tough journey in those days.

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    1. The physical toll, combined with the lack of modern medical care, certainly presented hardships.

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  13. I knew a bit about Pioneers Day but knew nothing about the extermination order. Humans aren't always the nicest people.

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    1. That's true, but there is a lot of good in the world, too. :-)

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  14. The 10 items you listed, surely are the foundation.
    Thank you Kristi for sharing some of the history of the LDS.

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