Lot 48: my ancestor/pioneer day

July 28, 2016

my ancestor/pioneer day

*i will probably get the majority of this factually incorrect*

have you ever heard of the Mormon pioneers before? how about Pioneer Day?  i'm not surprised if you haven't heard of it.  it is very much a topic that isn't talked about hardly at all in the general public.  mostly because people don't know this happened.

 let me tell you a story....

in the 1800's, after the founder of the Mormon church, (although it really is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, not the 'Mormon' Church.) Joseph Smith (the first Prophet.  We don't worship him! A lot of people think we do.) had shared the gospel with many many people and the the gospel had spread all the way to England, years of religious persecution began.  

angry mobs came and took sleeping women and children out of their beds at night and killed them in horrific ways.  they burnt our beloved temple to the ground, one that we had taken so long to build.  they took Joseph Smith into the streets and tarred and feathered him.  he bled and tore of skin getting it off.

Joseph Smith knocked on the White House door and pleaded with President Martin van Buren for help.  President Van Buren, after hearing their plea and letters, said to our Prophet Joseph Smith, "What can I do?  I can do nothing for you!  If I do anything, I shall come in contact with the whole state of Missouri." (Joseph Smith founded the Church and lived in Nauvoo, Illinois.)  [393. Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. N.p.: Vintage, 2007. Print.]

things got so bad that it became clear that in order for members of the Church to practice religious freedom and worship in peace, they would have leave. to pack up as many personal belongings as they could into handcarts and headed west to build a new settlement, to build a new life for themselves.  

there were many handcart companies.  thousands of people died.  they battled the harshest of conditions.  my great-great-great grandmother's sister on my paternal side, elizabeth horrocks jackson, was one of these courageous pioneers who trekked across thousands of miles to get to utah to settle and have religious freedom.  in 1856, her family of a husband and three children, started their journey by boat from England and then joined a handcart company and began their trek across the plains. in wyoming, her husband fell ill with mountain fever, and died shortly after.  

july 24, 1847 marks the day the first handcart company arrived in the salt lake valley in Utah.  the day Utah was settled (although there were indians of course.  unclear on that part but i know there was this huge bloody battle with them an hour away from where i grew up in southern utah.)  this is known as pioneer day and in Church, we spend the month of july talking and thinking about pioneers and all that they sacrificed.

i can't begin to tell you how much they sacrificed and how grateful i am that they did.  a lot of members have wondered "why didn't the Lord make their conditions easier?   keep those they loved alive, make the harsh wind and snow go away, the blistering heat not so blistering?" my ancestor answers perfectly:

“I have a desire to leave a record of those scenes and events, through which I have passed, that my children, down to my latest posterity may read what their ancestors were willing to suffer, and did suffer, patiently for the Gospel's sake. And I wish them to understand, too, that what I now write is the history of hundreds of others, both men, women and children, who have passed through many like scenes for a similar cause, at the same time we did. I also desire them to know that it was in obedience of an eternal reward- an exaltation to eternal life in His kingdom- that we suffered these things. I hope, too, that it will inspire my posterity with fortitude to stand firm and faithful to the truth, and be willing to suffer, and sacrifice all things they may be required to pass through for the Kingdom of God's sake.”  - Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson

that gives me chills.  i am so grateful that she did indeed write of her experiences and that i have access to this treasured story.  it gives me chills reading it.  my heart bursts with pride for not only my ancestor, but for all others who trekked as she did and suffered as she did.  it brings tears to my eyes.

so every Pioneer day weekend now, there are carnivals, parades, and a lot of celebration.  this year i went with my sister to her suburb's parade and carnival.  i didn't want to miss experiencing it with my nephews! 

GOOOOOOO UTES!!! that float is the float for my alma mater. 

the two youngest nephews, eli and oliver, rode the swing ride that goes round and round.  they loved it and couldn't stop smiling. 

i am so grateful for my ancestors and the sacrifices they made.  and i don't take for granted for a second that we have religious freedom and can worship in peace.

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit, I do miss Pioneer Day and all the festivities.


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