Celebrating pioneer heritage is more than just Mormon’s trekking across The United States to settle in Utah. What pioneers are in your family history?
Last week in Utah we celebrated our annual State Holiday – Pioneer Day. Though the celebration began in honor of the first Mormon pioneers who arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 24 July 1847, it is now in honor of everyone (regardless of faith or nationality) who came to the Salt Lake Valley between 1847 and about 1869, when the transcontinental railroad arrived.
Every year on Pioneer Day as I attend my local parade, visit the quilt fair, or walk through the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum in my small town and look at the old black and white photographs, I’m reminded that most families have pioneers in their ancestry, regardless of whether they are from Utah or not.
What is a Pioneer?
The word “pioneer” means: a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area. This applies to every city, town, and community in the world. Ancestors who immigrated to a new country, or who moved west as the U.S. expanded, or who left homes and families behind to homestead new areas, all qualify as pioneers. For more information on researching your family history “pioneer”, check out our article, Who Was Your Journey Taker?
I live in a small town, surrounded by other small towns, and this year I took my 6-year-old daughter to one of the neighboring towns that has a small park filled with historic buildings. There are a few log cabins, a printing press, a barn, a blacksmith’s shop, and other buildings that nobody is really sure what they were used for. As I was explaining to my daughter that these one room cabins were where an entire family cooked, slept, played, and lived, she said, “Wow, mom. We’re pretty lucky. Everyone in our family has their own room AND we have a bathroom inside our house.” Such a simple statement, but she’s absolutely right. I look around those cabins and think about what life must have been like for those who lived there. Their perseverance is what got us where we are today, and I commend them for it.
A Family’s Legacy
My ancestors didn’t come to Utah as pioneers, but they were farmers in Iowa, Kansas and Colorado going back at least four generations, and during the course of researching one family line I found an article about my 4x-great-grandfather hauling logs from his farm for ten miles to help build the first Methodist Episcopal church in their county, which his family then attended for the next 50 years or so until it burned down.
I’m so glad to do the work I do, where I get to spend every day learning more about all the amazing families that have helped shape history. Every family has its own unique and interesting story, and though Pioneer Day is mainly a Utah holiday, all pioneers deserve to be celebrated!
Legacy Tree Genealogists is a professional family history research company based out of Salt Lake City, Utah – near the famous Family History Library, with a network of genealogists around the globe. Let our team help you discover the story of your ancestors. Request a free quote today.