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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Family History Mission: Traveling to the Mission Field Across the Plains

An old road grader in Illinois
No. 12

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them.

It is very interesting to me that our trip to our mission field in 2017 takes us along almost the same route traveled by the early Mormon Pioneers starting back in 1847. The longest time the pioneers took to cross the Plains from Winter Quarters, which is now in Nebraska, to the Salt Lake Valley was three months and a week. As the years passed, subsequent pioneer immigrants had the benefit of the westward expansion of the railroad. The pioneer era ended with the completion of the railroad to Utah in 1868. Hence, pioneers are those who crossed the Plains between 1847 and 1868. The completion the transcontinental railroad link took place in Utah on May 10, 1869.

Our trip across the United States, much further than the distance to cross the Plains, will take about five days. We drove up Provo Canyon, east of where we live and then traveled north to Interstate 80. Most of this road roughly follows the Mormon Trail. We drove into Wyoming and then across to Nebraska. Fortunately, we had good weather all the way. One observation is that there is almost no snow and this could be a real problem. The only snow we saw was off the side of the road in the mountains and there was not much of that.

Once the freeway gets to Nebraska, the road is almost perfectly straight. We drove on Interstate 80 all the way to Davenport, Iowa where we dropped south on Interstate 74 and crossed the Mississippi into Illinois.

Many of my own ancestors and their families crossed the Plains. Some of them many times when they traveled back to help others or to carry freight. The Mormon Travel Overland Travel website has a database of those who have been documented to cross the Plains during the pioneer years. If you might have pioneer ancestors, you can search for their names and find out the pioneer companies they were in when they traveled west. There may also be other documentation. My Great-great-grandfather, Sidney Tanner, crossed the Plains a total of five times in three different companies.

This has a special significance to me since I am now "crossing the Plains" to serve a full-time mission just as many of my ancestors before me have done.

The photo above was taken at a rest stop in Illinois. It doesn't have anything to do with pioneers, but my Tanner ancestors were also road builders and probably used a road grader like this one at some point in the work. 

No comments:

Post a Comment