Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Seeking to identify pioneers

SUP begins comprehensive compilation of forefathers who came before railroad
Published: Saturday, July 21, 1990

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As indicated in a well-known hymn, Latter-day Saints sing "honor, praise and veneration" to the Mormon pioneers (see Hymns, No. 36). Yet according to an organization of their descendants, the pioneers who settled the Utah Territory have never been comprehensively identified.

For that reason, the Salt Lake City Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers (SUP), a national service organization, has undertaken the challenge of compiling such a list."There are believed to have been some 80,000 pioneer immigrants who traveled to the Utah Territory prior to the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869," said F. Garn Hatch, a member of the Pioneer Immigrant Identification Committee.

Focus of the Sons of Utah Pioneers project is on the immigrants who came to Utah from July 24, 1847, until the railroad was completed at Promontory, Utah, 22 years later.

"Many names of those of `the last wagon' have fallen through the cracks and have not been included in various lists, indexes, plaques at the SUP headquarters, or name plates on the seats of the Pioneer Memorial Theater in Salt Lake City," Hatch pointed out.

"The Salt Lake City Chapter, under the direction of Richard E. Turley, chapter president, announces its intention to compile a complete list, if possible, of those who qualify as Utah pioneers, and hope for the cooperation of all of their descendants and others who may be interested in this giant effort," he said.

Various categories of pioneers, Hatch explained, include the Mormon immigrants who traveled the Overland Trail from the Missouri River; immigrants who came by ship or land to northern or southern California and then to Utah; soldiers who came with the United States Army and then stayed in Utah; those who came as explorers, trappers, miners, merchants, farmers, ranchers and federal officials and settled Utah; and those headed elsewhere who arrived in Utah, stopped and settled.

"Those born here are not identified as pioneer immigrants," Hatch noted.

To accomplish the task, the chapter is planning extraction of information from existing records, and compiling of information in a computerized data base.

The immigrant identification committee, chaired by Preston W. Parkinson, has concluded that the best way to obtain data on many pioneer immigrants is through their descendants, Hatch said.

A form has been developed for use by individuals in submitting names and biographical data for their pioneer ancestors. The form will be widely distributed through the national SUP office and other cooperating organizations.

When the computer data base has been compiled, it will be made available for searching by qualified researchers and will ultimately be published in a form yet to be determined, Hatch said.

Requested on the form is such information as dates and places of departure and arrival, traveling companions, route followed, and place of settlement.

Hatch said the committee recognizes that submitters may not be able to provide all the information requested. Entries of primary importance will be noted by an asterisk.

Hatch said the committee welcomes volunteer assistance in the following areas:

- Extraction of information from published sources, a work that can be accomplished at home.

- Data entry into computers.

- Submission of names and associated data on the standard form supplied by the committee.

Those interested in participating in the project may contact the Utah Pioneer Immigrant Project Committee through the National Society, Sons of Utah Pioneers, 3301 E. 2920 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84109; telephone (801) 484-4441.