What some historians consider a neglected part of the history of the Saints' exodus from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley - the Iowa crossing - was explored and celebrated at a symposium here May 3-4.
At the Iowa Historical Building, in the shadow of the five-domed State Capitol, scholars and enthusiasts both inside and outside of the Church discussed and analyzed the part Latter-day Saints played in Iowa history. It was a timely event, this year being the sesquicentennial of Iowa's statehood and of the beginning of the Pioneers' westward trek under President Brigham Young's leadership.Thus, the symposium was sponsored jointly by the State Historical Society of Iowa, the Iowa Mormon Trails Association, BYU, the Mormon History Association and the Church-affiliated Nauvoo Restoration Inc.
Of the 335 registered participants, 30-40 percent may have been non-LDS, estimated Elder William and Sister Sidney Price, public service missionaries based in Nauvoo, Ill., and appointed by the Church to coordinate the exodus sesquicentennial commemoration this year.
On the program were Iowa Mormon Trails Association representatives from each of the 12 counties through which the Mormon Trail passes. They summarized their research and trail-marking activities of the last few years.
A highlight of the symposium was an evening banquet at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. There, the recreated William Pitt's Brass Band, inspired by its namesake from the 1846 Camp of Israel, presented a concert of pioneer music. Later, symposium participants sang the beloved hymn composed on the Iowa portion of the trail, "Come, Come, Ye Saints." (Please see accompanying article.)
On May 5, some of the presenters and their spouses were treated by Elder and Sister Price to a tour of nearby prominent Pioneer camp and settlement locations, including Mt. Pisgah and Garden Grove. (Please see accompanying story.) They sang "Come, Come, Ye Saints" on what is believed to be the spot where William Clayton wrote the hymn 150 years ago.
LDS presenters from BYU and elsewhere were on the program, as was Dr. Loren N. Horton, senior historian of the State Historical Society of Iowa, the man credited with inspiring the formation of the Iowa Mormon Trails Association.
A few of the many presentations are summarized on these pages. Elder Price said BYU and the Iowa Mormon Trails Association plan jointly to publish a collection of papers from the symposium.