Iowans honor saints' trek across 12 of their counties

In Seymour, Iowa, residents will celebrate "Come, Come, Ye Saints" Day April 14 to commemorate the writing near there 150 years ago of the beloved LDS hymn.

And in Garden Grove, fifth and sixth graders at Mormon Trail Elementary School are studying the Pioneers' 1846 trek and preparing a program to re-enact the founding of their town by the exiled Saints.Across the 12 counties traversed in their state by the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, Iowans are showing a keen interest in the Saints' exodus from Nauvoo, Ill., 150 years ago.

Comparatively few are members of the Church, yet they draw a sense of historic legacy from the dramatic events that happened in their dooryards a century and a half ago.

Delores Burkland, a delegate to the Iowa Mormon Trails Association from Moravia, Appanoose County, was among non-LDS Iowa residents who attended the Exodus Commemoration in Nauvoo Feb. 3-4.

"I cried too," she said. "I really had a deep feeling; this was just awsome."

She echoed the opinion expressed by some Church members that the record-cold weather on that occasion was a spiritual reminder of the hardship the Pioneers faced.

"Yet," she said, "I was never really cold. I suppose it was because of the emotional impact of it."

In Utah, most of the celebrating will be next year, the 150th anniversary of the Pioneers arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. But to Iowans, the big happening is this year, and their observance of it is an official part of the state's 1996 sesquicentennial.

A key event is the Iowa Mormon Trails History Symposium scheduled May 3-4 at the State Historic Building in Des Moines. Local and LDS historians and experts will present papers examining many topics. They include Nauvoo on the eve of the exodus, the March departures with Brigham Young, the often overlooked main exodus in April and May, the final groups forced out in September, circumstances in Iowa in 1846, social life on the trail, women's experiences during the exodus, the writing of "Come, Come, Ye Saints," and LDS settlements on both sides of the Missouri River. To inquire about registration and lodging arrangements, contact Bill or Sid Price, Church public affairs missionaries in Nauvoo, at 217-453-2233.

Two wagon trains will re-enact the Iowa portion of the trek.

The JL2 Inc. Authentic Wagon Train departs June 15-16 from Nauvoo and ends July 4 at Winter Quarters near Omaha, Neb. For information, call the hotline between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CST at 1-800-767-4923.

The Iowa Mormon Trails Association Sesquicentennial Wagon Train departs from Montrose June 17 and ends at Council Bluffs July 13. For information and registration, call the IMTA hotline, 319-463-5302.

In addition, Church member Montell Seeley is leading a handcart trek across the Mormon Trail in Iowa June 24-July 13. All stakes are welcome to participate. Participants may trek one to 20 days at $5 per day per person. The fee includes the handcart. Meals are available for $12 per day. For information, contact Brother Seeley at 801-381-2195, or call the IMTA hotline.

Travelers wishing to tour the trail by automobile or otherwise may want to obtain a copy of the "Mormon Pioneer Trail" brochure and map published by the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. Copies are available from Nauvoo Restoration Inc., P.O. Box 215, Nauvoo, Ill. 62354, or by calling the IMTA hotline.

In Iowa, the auto tour route that approximates the trail begins in Montrose on Highway 218 and extends west over portions of Highways 2, 69, 34, 25, and 92. Communities through which the trail passes can be reached from those highways.

County by county, here is an abbreviated summary of some of the landmarks and events going on in each of the trail's counties. It is based on conversations with chapter representatives of the Iowa Mormon Trails Association and others or information compiled by Elder and Sister Price in Nauvoo. It is not comprehensive, as some events are still being planned.

Some of the community activities are keyed to the time when either of the wagon trains pass through. Events associated with the JL2 wagon train are marked with a single asterisk Those associated with the IMTA wagon train are marked with a double asterisk .

Counties are listed from east to west in the order the trail passes through them.


Landmarks. Keokuk Grand Park in Keokuk, likely location of 1853 Keokuk encampment of LDS immigrants from England who came up the Mississippi by boat; Riverview Park in Montrose, with marker showing site of Fort Des Moines abandoned by soldiers and later used by Brigham Young and other Saints before moving to Nauvoo; Linger Longer Park on Highway 61 north of Montrose, near site of the miracle of the quail. (See B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:136.)

Events. June 17-24: * *Both wagon trains ferry across Mississippi from Nauvoo to Montrose; *Sugar Creek Pioneer Days at Croton, including seven days of live entertainment, quilting, historical displays, drama, etc. at city park; North America Central area presidency attending, stakes in Cedar Rapids and Davenport helping sponsor.


Landmarks. Van Buren County Courthouse in Keosaqua, the oldest in Iowa and second oldest in U.S. in continuous use, location where William Pitt's Brass Band from the Camp of Israel performed two or three concerts in the courtroom in 1846.

Events. June 24: *Campfire program at Bentonsport, fiddlers, dinner, program, ice cream social.

June 24: **Campsite south of Farmington, gospel music concert by local talent at 7 p.m.

June 25: **Concert by re-creation of Pitt's Brass Band at Van Buren County Courthouse, the exact spot where original band performed; Centennial Singers and Band plus local entertainment at county fairgrounds, square dance, dinner.

June 26: **Local musical entertainment at Richardson's Point Campsite.


Landmarks. Lakeside Village Campsite, four miles north of Bloomfield on Highway 63.

Events. June 20-21: *Barbecue at the campsite at 6 p.m., program at 7 p.m. featuring Nauvoo Adventure Singers, speaker Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy. Breakfast at 6 a.m.

June 27: **Square dance at Drakesville.

June 28: **Games, ice cream social at West Grove Park.


Landmarks. Chariton River, where the Camp of Israel crossed with difficulty and then reorgnized the week of March 22-28 (See page 10); Moravia, location of two large gardens that sustained LDS and other pioneers; Soap Creek campsite.

Events. June 21: *Campfire program at Unionville.

June 22: *Campfire program at Lake Rathburn.

June 23: *Interfaith church service sponsored by Columbia Iowa Stake, featuring member of area presidency.

June 28: **"Hee Haw" celebration at Unionville, 7 p.m., meal 6 p.m. at Sundown Lake featuring Buckskinners group.

June 29: **At Chariton River crossing, town of Moulton will provide meal, 6 p.m., and evening entertainment, 7 p.m. Guided tours to river crossing and grave sites, 3-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

June 30: **Brunch provided by Exline community at campsite, 9 a.m. At Lake Rathburn, interfaith service, 11 a.m.


Landmarks. Locust Creek Camp No. 2, southwest of present-day Seymour, where William Clayton wrote "Come, Come, Ye Saints" April 15, 1846; Bob White State Park, near campsite where Pioneers experienced a prairie fire April 21, 1846. Wayne County Historical Museum in Corydon, with exhibit commemorating " `Come, Come, Ye Saints,' the hymn that went around the world."

Events. April 14: "Come, Come, Ye Saints" Day, noon to 6:30 p.m., courthouse square in Corydon, featuring musical/historical program, bus tours to Locust Creek No. 2 campsite, quilt show, re-enactment events surrounding writing of hymn, season opening of museum.

June 30: Interfaith service, 11 a.m. 125th Old Settlers Commemoration at Community Square in Seymour featuring food court. Evening concert with 150-voice choir singing "Come, Come, Ye Saints" at high school stadium, Dr. Stanley Kimball speaker. Transit system to Tharp Cemetery, museum and campsite.

July 1: Heritage 150 celebration with pageant written locally from journals at Allerton Centennial Building, 7:30 p.m.


Landmarks. Welcome Center in Chariton, featuring Mormon Trail exhibits.

Events. May 4: Arts and crafts "Spring Fest" featuring unveiling of five-county Mormon Trail mural. Two artists' paintings and prints of trail scenes. Covered wagon rides, talks by local experts about the trail through the area.


Landmarks. Garden Grove town founded by Pioneers. Campsite, owned by Paul and Karla Gunzenhauser, marked grave and cabin sites, tours availble on their property; Mormon Trail School District with elementary and high school by that name.

Events. April 25: Classes at Garden Grove Elementary School are studying Mormon Trail with state grant, creating displays, preparing program to be presented at sesquicentennial Founders Day celebration at Garden Grove school gym.

July 3: **Camp at Garden Grove near monument, featuring food, auction, country music, square dance sponsored by Cedar Rapids stake, pageant at opera house, sposored by Des Moines Stake.


Landmarks. 7-mile Creek Campsite, two miles west of Murray, with visible wagon ruts.

Events. June 1: Mormon Trail Day, at Murray, 11 a.m.-3 p.m, featuring tractor and hay-ride tours to ruts area; Murray School history students will give presentation of their study of the trail in Clarke County. Smorgasbord, bake sale, craft show at firehall, quilt show at community building.

July 4. **Parade in Osceola and entertainment on the square, 1-5 p.m. Dinner at high school. "Heart of America" Mormon Choir at 8 p.m. on high school football field, fireworks after program.


Landmarks. Mt. Pisgah, which served as a way station for LDS Pioneers until 1852.

Events. June 26: *Campfire program at Lorimer, 7:30 p.m.

July 6: **Civil War encampment at fairgrounds in Afton featuring Buckskinners group, craft and food stands and demonstrations, LeRoy Van Dyke and Hank Thompson in concert.

July 7: **Interfaith church service sponsored by Ames Iowa Stake at Mt. Pisgah at 10:30 a.m., featuring Elder Hartman Rector Jr., emeritus General Authority. Tours of Mt. Pisgah settlement site.

July 20: Cabin raising at Mt. Pisgah, sponsored by Des Moines Iowa Stake.


Landmarks. Mormon Trail Park near Orient.

Events. July 8: **Headline entertainment sponsored by Henry A. Wallace Farm and Research Center at town of Orient.


Landmarks. Cold Springs County Park near Lewis.

Events. June 27: *Campfire program at Orient, 7:30 p.m.

June 28: *Campfire program at Massena, 7:30 p.m.

June 29: *Flea market at downtown park in Lewis. Campfire program, 7:30 p.m

June 30: *Interfaith church service, 11 a.m., sponsored by Sioux City Iowa Stake.

July 9: **Dinner provided by community of Massena, bonfire, local entertainment, at camp three miles south of town.

July 10: **Buffalo meat dinner and barn dance at Hitchcock House in Lewis.


Landmarks. Council Bluffs, founded by the Saints as Kanesville, site of Grand Encampment of Camp of Israel and a major staging area for Pioneers.

Events. July 1: *Campfire program at Oakland, 7:30 p.m.

July 2: *Campfire program at McClelland, 7:30 p.m.

July 3-13: Continuous events of city celebration at Council Bluffs.

July 11: **At Macedonia, craft and food booths, bluegrass band at Braden Farm one-half mile south of town.

July 12: **Grand Encampment campsite at Council Bluffs, continuous entertainment, including Indian dancers, re-enactors, nature walks, fireworks, "Refuge and Rest" cantata, Michael Martin Murphy concert.

July 13: **At Grand Encampment site in Council Bluffs, pancake breakfast and prayer service featuring area presidency, mustering of Mormon Battalion, cantata, moving of flame from Grand Encampment to Kanesville Tabernacle, re-dedication of reconstructed tabernacle, barbecue, Mormon Battalion Ball.


The restored city of Nauvoo contains open space, homes, shops and the Joseph Smith and Brigham Young houses. After leaving Nauvoo in 1846, the first Mormons crossed the Mississippi River to Montrose, Iowa. They organized themselves for the trek across Iowa at Sugar Creek Camp.

An advance party made camp at Garden Grove on April 25, 1846. Within two weeks they cleared 300 acres, planted crops, built log houses, and cut 10,000 rails for fencing and enough logs for 40 more houses. The site continued as a way station until 1852.

Named for its biblical counterpart, Mount Pisgah served as a way station until 1852.

The Mormons called this area Kanesville. Later known as Council Bluffs, its importance to western expansion dates back to 1804 when Lewis and Clark met with Indians near here. Kanesville was a major staging area for pioneers heading west.

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