Site of short-lived pioneer settlement dedicated

The site of the first organized community in Nebraska, Cutler's Park, was dedicated Saturday, June 14, by President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Located in Florence, three miles southwest of Winter Quarters, the settlement of about 2,500 was organized in August 1846 and served as the headquarters camp for the Church. A few months later, negotiation for land usage with the Omaha and Oto Indian tribes caused the settlers to move to higher ground closer to the Missouri River - the more well-known Winter Quarters settlement.Although a short-lived community, Cutler's Park had a mayor (John Alpheus Cutler), a city council, a town square and even a fire department.

Approximately 160 people gathered to witness the dedication at the park. The area has recently been beautified with a monument, flowers and trees. It was opened to the public at a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 19 as part of the Pioneer Sesquicentennial. The commemorative wagon train that left Winter Quarters on April 21 passed by the park on its westward re-enactment of the historic journey.

Before the dedicatory services, President Packer and his wife, Donna, took time to meet those in attendance and shake their hands.

Also attending with their wives were Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy, North America Central Area president; and Elder Kay H. Christensen, an Area Authority Seventy.

Stake presidents Arthur Taylor (Omaha Nebraska Stake), Louis Butler (Omaha Nebraska Papillion Stake) and Maury Schooff (Lincoln Nebraska Stake) also attended, accompanied by their wives. Pres. Jack and Sister Connie Bangerter of the Nebraska Omaha Mission were also in attendance. Also present were descendants of John Alpheus Cutler and other Culter Park residents.

The flag was presented by Scout Troop 260 of the Cottonwood Ward, Omaha Nebraska Papillion Stake. Remarks were given by Ron Dowse and Charles Bressman of the Douglas/Sarpy County Mormon Trails Association, and music was provided by Pitt's Brass Band and the Primary chorus of the Papillion stake.

President Packer, in his address, focused on "the other end of the trail," meaning the members of the Church today. He asked why members of the Church make sacrifices for the Church.

"The answer is simply because it's true," he said. "The gospel is true . . . . The invitation was open, as it is today. If you don't believe the message that the prophet [Joseph Smith] gave, go ask for yourself, just as he did."

President Packer also talked about his own pioneer ancestors from Denmark who crossed on the trail. After remarks about modern-day missionaries and the truthfulness of the gospel, he offered the dedicatory prayer.

About Cutler's Park, President Packer said, "Just one word: wonderful."

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