08242017

Who were the pioneers?: 12 little-known facts that tell their migration story

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail
Pioneer Courage Park, located between 14th Street and 15th Street on Capitol Avenue in downtown Omaha, includes a series of sculptures depicting a wagon train of four pioneer families and their covered wagons departing westward. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom.)

Pioneer Courage Park, located between 14th Street and 15th Street on Capitol Avenue in downtown Omaha, includes a series of sculptures depicting a wagon train of four pioneer families and their covered wagons departing westward. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

So you think you know the pioneers? Think again.

Contrary to the belief of some, not all pioneers were the same. The 70,000 people who came to Utah during the decades of emigration in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were unique individuals from widely differing backgrounds, financial situations, educational aspirations, countries of origin, family situations and social statuses. Here’s a glimpse at the different kinds of people who made the trek westward.

  1. Stats and factsTimeline: Migration began in 1846 in Nauvoo, Illinois and ended with the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.
  2. The Mormon trail crossed through what is now five U.S. states: Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah.
  3. An estimated 70,000 came to Utah from 1847 to 1869.
  4. Approximately 30,000 of immigrants came to Utah as part of the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which was established to financially assist poor Latter-day Saints who wanted to come to Utah.
  5. The Perpetual Emigration Fund was established in 1849.
  6. Mormon pioneers came from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands.
  7. Of the 70,000 total pioneers, only about 3,000 of them (4.28 percent) used handcarts.
  8. Each handcart could hold no more than 200 pounds, and one family (or five people) shared a cart.
  9. One thousand people traveled with the Martin and Willie handcart companies. About 200 of them died of starvation and cold.
  10. Of the 70,000 Saints who emigrated to America, about 98 percent were from Europe, 75 percent were from Britain.
  11. The first official emigration company from Europe was in 1840, when 41 saints from Preston, England, came to the U.S. on the ship Britannia.
  12. Years before he led the migration to Utah, Brigham Young organized British saints into companies for the journey overseas to Nauvoo. In all, he organized 800 emigrants into seven companies during that time.

Sources: “The Convert Immigrants” (history.lds.org) and “Pioneer Trek,” Mormon Newsroom

Like this story(0)

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment