With Pioneer Day tomorrow, here is a compilation of stories that you can share with your family.
And have a few tissues around… they are moving.
Also, here are some ideas you could do to help your family understand the Pioneers and their epic journey.
1. Get out a map and trace their journey from Nauvoo, along the Platte river, up through Wyoming and down to Big Mountain (Emigration Canyon) into Salt Lake City. You can go here to try and figure out their route. Then after you think you have it, go here to see if it is right (click on the “view map”) .
2. See if they can calculate the mileage
3. Explain that there were 2 kinds of pioneers. 1- Those that followed Brigham Young out of Nauvoo and came in wagons, and 2- The emigrants that were being converted by the missionaries and coming to the US to gather with the saints – they are the ones that used handcarts.
4. Look at your map again and show them that the second kind of pioneers would have landed in New York on a ship and then taken a train as far as they could – which is Iowa City. Find Iowa city.
5. At this point they would have had hand carts made and then started the 1300 mile trek to the Salt Lake Valley.
6. Ask questions like:
- What kind of roads and conditions do you think they had to travel on?
- How many miles do you think they could travel in one hour?
- How many miles do you think they could travel in one day?
- How many days would it take for them to make it to Salt Lake
- What are some dangers they would have had along the trail?
- What are some problems they may have with their handcarts?
- What time of year would be best to travel?
- With your calculations of how long it may take for them to make it to Salt Lake, when would be the best time to leave Iowa City?
7. Below is a book I put together of stories about the Willie and the Martin Handcart Company. They are two separate companies of about 500 people each, who left too late in the season and ended up facing terrible difficulties.
Here is what a page look like.
8. Print off copies for your family and have a little read-a-thon about these stories. Give the following explanations before they start:
- The italicized words are directly from journal entries. At the beginning of each entry it will tell you who the person is and which company they were a part of.
- The un-italicized words are mostly me catching you up on the current conditions
- While these 2 companies were on the trail, one of the missionaries who had baptized some of them was on his way back to Salt Lake and was traveling by horse and carriage. He was surprised to see over 1,000 people on the trail so late in the season. When he arrived in Salt Lake he informed Brigham Young of this, and the prophet immediately organized a rescue party to go get the people.
- There are 2 phases to the rescuers, 1- the express rescue party (those that left immediately) and 2- those that gathered wagons and supplies and left after the express party. The express party set up stations along the way and left some of the rescuers to keep the station. One of the station keepers kept a really good journal, and some of the journal entries are from him.
- You could also cut out 2 handcarts (one for each company), some horses (for the express rescuers) some wagons (for the large rescue party) and a picture of Brigham Young. You could move the pictures along the map as you read the stories.
- There are times you may need a tissue, and one time where you may want to throw your book across the room.
Here is the file of the stories: pioneer trek stories
And here is a coverpage if you want to dress it up: pioneer stories cover page