Thursday, July 23, 2015

Happy Days Of '47 - "Forging A New Frontier"~

Each year Utah has a Days of '47 parade honoring the Pioneers that settled in the Salt Lake Valley. The first company entered the valley on July 24th, 1847. They traveled over the plains more than 1300 miles. I have several ancestors who made the trek west by wagon and or handcart. 
These hardy pioneers were very brave and true to the faith that brought them here. I loved to read the stories of these special ancestors of mine. 
Today I wanted to share a short story from the life of 

My Great Great Grandfather Michael McMillan with
 My Great Great Grandmother Mary Brown~

When Mother and Father left for American in 1863, all of mother’s family, nine of them, was with her all being Mormon converts. Father was alone in his family. He left a broken hearted mother as two of her sons had left for America two years before and she never expected to see any of them again,…and she didn’t. Father was born in Cloughcorr County, Antrim, Ireland, in 1841. He moved to Scotland with his family when five years old and lived in a place called Terent, East of Edinburgh ten miles. Mother was born in Midlothen about twelve miles from Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, in a small town called Stubhill, April 16, 1838. They were baptized in the L.D.S. church in Scotland. Grandfather Brown (was) taking quite an active part there having street meetings, his daughters singing and passing out tracts. Mother and Father met at Uncle Neal’s and Aunt Janet’s Wedding; and became sweethearts. Leaving Scotland for America on May 26, 1863, they arrived in Liverpool on May 28th and were married that evening by an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a justice of the peace who was on a mission from Manti, Utah. They went on board the Sunnyshore the next day. But it did not pull out to sea until May 30 and was on the ocean nine weeks. They landed in New York a very happy family after their long voyage. They traveled by train from New York to St. Joseph Missouri, then down the Missouri River by boat to Omaha. On their voyage by water, the water was so shallow they had to walk until they encountered deeper water. They remained in Omaha for one week preparing for their journey across the plains. They came with the Fullmore Train, with Samuel White as captain. Father was assigned an ox team to drive. Father did not know the first thing about hitching them up and did not know which side to put them on so mother tied a strip of red calico on one of their horns so he would know which side to hitch them on. After traveling for several days they had a very bad electrical storm. An independent freighter who was traveling with them was stunned and four out of ten of his oxen were killed by lightening. This was not considered a total loss as the company needed meat. Mother had the privilege of riding on the wagon with father, but let her mother ride and she walked the entire distance across the plains. They arrived in Salt Lake City on the sixth day of October 1863. Uncle Willie and Uncle Neal, having been here two years before, met them in Salt Lake City and took them to their homes in Cottonwood, now Murray. Uncle Willie had two adobe rooms and let Mother and Father have one. But they did not stay there long as they had three children so they needed their rooms. So Father went down the road about half a block and made a dugout in the side of the hill, which they lived in until they could build the adobe room. The room had a square hole in the back of it with no window and nothing but a dirt floor. They had no furniture, used boughs for their bed. Sister Mary was born there. They used to cook with a fire place, turn their biscuits over Mother’s hope chest and each sat on one end and ate them. Father worked very hard, working wherever he could get flour, bacon or anything for pay, sometimes a little molasses and that was his pay. By another year they got a cow, a pig and built on another adobe room. When brother Neal was born, in two years January 20, Mother had learned to milk the cow. Father had not learned to milk. He went to work in the field,…grubbing sagebrush and trying to clear the land so as to make a better living all the time, and he succeeded. Mother did the chores and when Neal was three days old the cow was brought to the door and mother went out and milked it in zero weather. When John was born, October 4, 1868, they had two rooms and a stove, and Mary was able to help mother a little so she would work with father in the field whenever she could. Next came Margaret, born June 24th, 1870. By this time things were much better. Janet was born July 7, 1872. By this time Father had sold some mining property in Little Cottonwood Canyon and they built the home that now stands in Murray. In 1874 Michael was born there, May 3, 1874. The house was not nearly finished. All this time Father and Uncle Neal Sr., had located a gold mine in Tintic, called the Scotia, meaning Scotch, with four or five others, and they sold it and got money to finish and furnish the new home. James was born there June 28, 1877.
Contributed By Corinne Edwards 

In our church, (The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) the Youth groups often go on Pioneer Treks. These treks are with handcarts. They go to remote areas and travel per handcart about 10 plus miles a day for 3-5 days. They are placed in families with a Pa and Ma and various ages of youth. In the evenings they stop and stay overnight in tents. They play pioneer games, eat pioneer food, and there is always pioneer dancing. These youth come home with a new appreciation for the life of a pioneer. They do this in Stakes all over the world. My daughter, who presently lives in Australia is preparing for a trek in October. Her husband and her will be a Pa and Ma. They have three daughters that will go on this trek with them but will be placed in different families. Some of the things these teenagers learn is how to sacrifice, be unselfish, work in unity and cooperation. They make life long friends within their families. They also learn alot about endurance as they face their hardships together with courage.  At one point all of the young men and men leaders leave the women for what they call the women's pull. Here there is a steep incline or other difficult area the women are to push and pull the loaded handcart  without help. Often times the women have to encourage one another to keep going and they love to sing pioneer songs to bring them courage to make this difficult pull. It is truly a profound tearful moment when they complete this pioneer experience. The men and boys tell of the tears that flow as they watch the women coming up the trial. The youth come back with strong testimonies of feeling the spirit of this experience.  It is an awesome program. 
A Picture of a Youth Group on a trek~
A Women's Pull~
To be a pioneer is not just for the past. It is part of our own future. Our world truly does need pioneers. Those who will go forth an pave the way for a brighter future. 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said the following: "It is not enough to study or reenact the accomplishments of our pioneers. We need to identify the great, eternal principles they applied to achieve all they achieved for our benefit and then apply those principles to the challenges of our day". 
Elder M. Russell Ballard stated: "The Lord isn't asking us to load up a handcart; He's asking us to fortify our faith...He isn't asking us to die a martyr's death; He's asking us to live a disciple's life".
President Henry B. Eyring recently said: "God got the Pioneers through, he'll get us through. 

Following the Pioneers by Dallin H. Oaks~
Pioneer Trek~Short History~
You can learn more about the Day's of '47 Parade Here~
Take a moment and look up an ancestor here.


Denise said...

this is so wonderful, glad you shared. I love you.

Marie Rayner said...

I enjoyed reading this LeAnn! The pioneers were special people, meant for their time. I believe we are also pioneers, meant for this time. WHo knows what we will yet be asked to endure. I am so grateful for the examples of these early Pioneers and the strength that it gives me to keep going in these modern times, where I, too, have challenges to face, maybe not physically, but certainly mentally. Love and hugs to you for all that you share with us. xoxo

Marsha said...

I love Pioneer Days, giving us time to really reflect upon the lives of our ancestors.

Debbie said...

what a great read leann!! i don't think i am strong enough to have survived those days. i often wonder about the "simpler" life, but the work was hard and the mountains were high. defining the word pioneer is a challenge, i believe we are all pioneers, in our own way!!

have a wonderful weekend!!!

Cheryl @ TFD said...

I have much admiration for all the pioneers. The hardships they endured plus being separated from loved took a lot of strength and courage to do what they did! Have a nice weekend, my friend!

Christy Monson said...

Thank you for this post. It is wonderful. I love my pioneer ancestors. Lots of love to you too.

Barb said...

Hi LeAnn!

I love reading about my pioneer heritage - it gives me so much strength! What an awesome heritage you have, and how wonderful it is to be able to remember them, and ponder on their courage and faith. I am reading, Undaunted, by Gerald Lund. It is so good, and truly makes me want to do better!

The youth in our ward went on trek this year and loved it - I really do think it changes their lives and strengthens their testimonies.

Hope to see you soon!

Hugs and Love,


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