Rest and music fortify trekkers for final stretch of long journey

The only town in Utah that the Sesquicentennial Mormon Trail Wagon Train re-enactment passed through en route to Salt Lake City was Henefer, population 750. The wagon train paused here for a two-day rest July 16-17 before tackling the steep climbs and treacherous downgrades of East Canyon and Big and Little Mountain leading to Emigration Canyon, the final stretch on the 1,070-mile journey that began April 21 at Winter Quarters, now part of Omaha, Neb.

Some 10,000-plus visitors descended upon the small town of Henefer to greet the wagon train and participate in a bevy of activities held in conjunction with the historic re-enactment. A highlight of the stop in Henefer was an outdoor meeting at which Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke to a huge crowd gathered in the town's park the evening of July 17. After Elder Ballard spoke, the Utah Symphony performed crowd-pleasing musical selections aimed at remembering the pioneers.Using as a resource the book Henefer - Our Valley Home, by Fannie Richins and Maxine Wright, Elder Ballard recounted some of the history of the town. He noted that on July 19, 1847, with Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow in the lead, the pioneers traveled through the present site of Henefer. During the first year of the trek, 13 pioneer companies, totaling 2,095 Latter-day Saints, traveled over the trail here.

The town's history records as early as 1848 Quincy Knowlton and a 19-year-old companion herded a few head of cattle at the site. In 1853, two brothers, William and James Hennefer were called by Brigham Young to take their families to start a settlement along the Weber River. (For some time, the town was called Henneferville. The Hennefer family and the town of Henefer have different spellings.) In 1861, Brigham Young called William Hennefer to serve as presiding elder of a branch at the site.

"In 1868 locusts destroyed most of the crops of the entire county," Elder Ballard said. "A few potatoes, peas and beets were saved. Then in 1869 grasshoppers destroyed all the grain crops in Heneferville. In these early days everything the people needed was expensive to buy. Flour was $25 a sack and sugar was $10 for 14 pounds. Needles were scarce as steel at that time was almost unknown. At one time there was only one needle in the entire settlement. It had to be guarded with care and passed around from one neighbor to another.

"These early Saints shared joy and sorrows together. Sickness and disease of many kinds plagued them. The worst calamity of all was the diphtheria epidemic. Children were taken suddenly ill and in a few days died. In three weeks time, 17 children were buried, and there was great sorrow among the people."

Elder Ballard said, "There are literally hundreds of . . . stories of sacrifice and faith from among our pioneers. It is fitting that we honor them through the replication of the trek."

During the concert that followed Elder Ballard's remarks, the Utah Symphony performed special arrangements of LDS hymns and American folk tunes that hark back to the 19th century. Directed by associate conductor Kory Katseanes, the symphony performed LDS hymns, pioneer songs and anthems. Featured soloists were Mary Hall and Michael Chipman. The orchestra's brass section played selections that served as fitting tribute to William Pitt's Brass Band, which was formed in Nauvoo and provided music for pioneers of 150 years ago. The popular Deseret String Band was featured on the program and, at one point, it and the orchestra joined in performing old-time tunes. Many in the audience were moved to clap hands in time with the music; others were prompted to stand up and dance "hoe-down" style.

The wagon train left Henefer the morning of July 18 and made its way into East Canyon, where it camped during the weekend, July 19-20. Thousands of spectators visited the camp, getting an up-close glimpse of history being recreated.

Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy visited the camp Sunday, July 20 and briefly addressed the modern-day pioneers.

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