Painting Found in the East Foyer of the LDS Conference Center
Pioneer Trekking Reenactment: In our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our pioneers are held dear for their faith, their hard work, for the path they blazed into the West and for the many, many sacrifices that were made on behalf of seeking to live the gospel of Jesus Christ free from persecution. They sought to establish a place of safety and freedom for the members of the church who were chased and persecuted, beaten, raped and murdered, and flushed with threat of bodily harm from one settlement to another, by various mobs. There was great suffering, but also great joy.
My ancestors on my mother's side of the family were a part of the great exodus from Europe and then across the early United States and into the territories of the West. The stories of these various pioneers have significantly imprinted my life and my ability to put my own trials and difficulties into perspective.
My great-great, and great-great-great grandmothers traveled across the Atlantic from England, leaving in the dark of the night, as my great-great-great grandfather was bitter about the church and did not want them to join. They left by ship and then made their way across the United States to the Utah Territory. The mother, Caroline, fell ill right as she was boarding the ship from England, by the time the ship had sailed she knew she was too ill to be traveling but there was nothing to be done at that point. Her spunky little girl, Caroline Rachel, was 8 years old and was cared for and tended through the kindness of those around her. Apparently she was a vibrant, energetic child, and got under foot of the sailors whenever she would go up top to throw her face to the sky and the sun and to breathe in the freshness of the sea, but despite the inconveniences everyone managed somehow.
In their trek across the United States and into the wild West, eventually Caroline the mother succumbed to her illness, which has been stated in some records to have been Consumption, and died and was buried on the banks of the Missouri River. Caroline Rachel continued her trek alone, barefoot through the hot and pricker-filled plains, with strangers, or at least strangers that became friends and caregivers along the way.
Caroline Rachel made it out to Utah and was fostered out to a family to be raised and cared for where she was happy and healthy and grew up to be the mother of 12 red headed children, of which my great grandmother was one, and so our story goes through the generations. As a side note, her father, missing his family and not knowing that his wife had died, several years later joined the church and came speedily out to rejoin his family. He was ecstatic to be reunited with his little girl, who was no longer so little, but heartbroken and inconsolable when he heard of the death of his beloved wife. Because she was well established and happy in her adopted family, he decided to live in a home next door to her instead of taking her away from them to live with him. He died a short few years later.
A common activity among our youth groups, in the summer time, is to reenact in some degree the walking, or trekking, that the pioneers experienced. There is always a lot of walking, more often than not they are dressed in 1800s period clothing, the rations are limited and there are stories told and a lot of work done along the way. As you can imagine, participating in this type of an activity gives pause for thought, for gratitude, and for humility and soberness of mind as they think about what the predecessors went through many, many years ago.
The youth are generally sorted into "family" groups with a ma and a pa and they work and walk and pull handcarts together. There is usually a pull where the women and girls must trek alone, sometimes to represent the men being gone with the Mormon Batallion (the U.S. Army recruited the Mormons to help blaze through to California), sometimes to represent how many women and girls traveled alone because the men did not join the trek, were serving the church elsewhere or perhaps had died. The food is often simple and sometimes meager to represent the difficulties the pioneers experienced. Overall, it is hot and dirty and dusty, or perhaps rainy and cold and muddy, just like it was back in the 1800s.
I came across this article and thought it sounded like this group of kids had a great experience, so I thought I would share it.