“I am a descendant of Mormon pioneers,” Sister Inouye said. “They didn’t pull handcarts or wear bonnets. ... They were excluded, driven from their homes, imprisoned and reviled. They did make incredible sacrifices in order to nourish their deepest beliefs.
“And I will be a Mormon pioneer by finding new ways to embrace our global brotherhood and sisterhood, to be a peacemaker and to be a representative of the Savior in our world which has moved into global territory. This is a triumph but also the beginning of a monumental challenge.”She was also quoted as saying,
In conclusion, Sister Inouye explained that someone is not a pioneer simply for doing something first, but because they did something difficult.As far as I know, none of my pioneer ancestors pulled handcarts or wore bonnets (but I am not sure about the bonnet issue). What they did do is walk across the continent to find a measure of religious freedom. Technically, Mormon pioneers are those who crossed the plains between 1847 and 186, the date when the Transcontinental Railroad was completed to Utah. One of my ancestors, my Great-great-great-grandfather, Sidney Tanner, b. 1 April 1809, d. 5 December 1895, crossed the Plains by wagon twice. The first time was is 1848 with the Willard Richards Company. As is explained on the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website,
526 individuals were in the company when it began its journey from the outfitting post at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. This company was divided into two sections, Willard Richards section and Amasa Lyman Section. The Lyman section left the outfitting post on 1 July and the Richards section left on 3 July.
Members of the company arrived from 10-19 October 1848.Amasa Mason Lyman was Sidney Tanner's brother-in-law since Amasa Mason Lyman married his sister, Louisa Maria Tanner in 1835.
The second time Sidney Tanner crossed the Plains was in the Sidney Tanner Company of 1861. Here is one account of the "Down and Back" trip across the Plains by his Grandson, George Shepherd Tanner:
In 1861, Sidney responded to a call by Brigham Young to be a part of what came to be known as the “Down and Back” wagon trains. This was another effort by Brigham Young to find an inexpensive way to get the immigrant poor across the plains. He had first tried to do it with handcarts but they didn’t work really well and had its problems. By 1861 he had learned that wagon trains leaving Salt Lake could go to the states and back in a single season. With that information, Brigham Young prepared for the 1861immigration season by asking each of the wards in the territory to provide teams, wagons, drivers and supplies to make the trip to Omaha and back to provide transportation and provisions for those too poor to provide their own. In late April of 1861, 200 Church Train wagons with 2,200 oxen and some mule teams carrying 150,000 pounds of flour (the flour was dropped at four way stations to be retrieved on the return trip) left Salt Lake to travel to the Missouri River, to” bring in the poor”. Sidney Tanner was among them with his big mule teams. Because his Mule teams could travel faster than the ox teams, it appears that he was left behind after the other “down and back” trains had started for Salt Lake, to pick up the stragglers. When he finally left on July 20, he was 16 to 20 days behind the others. According to the journal of William Hart Miles, a member of the company, Sidney’s train traveled many days close to 30 miles. Before the end of July he was passing other trains. He made the return trip in just over seven weeks arriving in Salt Lake September 11 arriving before all the ox drawn “down and back” trains.See also,
De Brouwer, Elizabeth. Sidney Tanner, His Ancestors and Descendants: Pioneer Freighter of the West, 1809-1895. Salt Lake City, Utah (4545 S. 2760 E., Salt Lake City 84117): S. Tanner Family Organization, 1982.As I have learned about my pioneer heritage over my now relatively long lifetime, I have come to appreciate what they did for me and their other descendants. But I also realize that having a pioneer heritage is meaningless unless I, myself, make a similar contribution. I come from a long line of men and women who knew how to work and as I have seen over an again, perseverance and hard work, whether driving a team and wagon across the Plains or writing and teaching are necessary components to service. My beliefs may have originated from my pioneer heritage, but I had to test my beliefs and discover for myself whether or not the beliefs that motivated my ancestors to cross the Plains would motivate me in my own life.
Discover your own family history. You may not have ancestors that walked across the American continent, but you may discover that your own ancestral lines contain those who challenges were even greater than settling the western part of the United States.