Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tracing Your Pioneer Ancestors

Many of the people living in the Western United States have family roots that go back to ancestors who joined the Church and then traveled to the Salt Lake Valley. If your ancestors crossed the Plains between the years of 1847 and 1868 when the railroad arrived in Utah, those ancestors are considered to be pioneers. Over the intervening years, there has been a concerted effort to memorialize these early pioneers. One such effort is the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database.

During the years between 1847 and 1868, over 300 companies of pioneers traveled from different locations and walked, rode in wagons, pulled handcarts or rode horses into Salt Lake.  In all, more than 60,000 LDS Church members traveled in these companies.

Some of my own ancestors died in the attempt to cross the Plains. Of my ancestors, 18 of them either arrived in Utah or died in the attempt, during that time period. A few more arrived later, after the railroad had already been built. But even then, many of them traveled in wagons down into Southern Utah, California and Arizona to settle. I grew up with pioneers that were not just something you read about in a book, but who were members of my family.

The Mormon Overland Travel Database is described as follows:
This database is a compilation of names obtained from rosters and other reliable sources of individuals who immigrated to Utah during this two-decade period. Each company is listed under its captain's name, and basic information is provided, including a photograph of the captain where available. Many companies include a list of diaries, journals, letters, and reminiscences written by company members, as well as contemporary reports about the company. The content of several thousand of those narratives has been transcribed and is included in the database.
Whether or not you had family members who were pioneers, this database helps to provide a living and useful memorial to all those who make the trip and is a valuable historical resource and very helpful to genealogists.

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