When Dave Ireland called Mark Welsh to ask him to design an exhibit honoring the Mormon Battalion - something akin to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. - Brother Welsh was overwhelmed.
"I don't do stone," he reflected.But together with other members in the Kansas City Missouri and Olathe Kansas stakes, they came up with a portable display of six panels, each 8 feet high by 4 feet wide. Brother Welsh designed it and Brother Ireland and Steve Anderson built the framework.
The panels contain the name of every battalion member listed under the heading of their respective companies. Also listed are the family members attached to each company who traveled with the battalion, including children who may have been born during the battalion's march.
On the last panel are those who re-enlisted in San Diego and stayed on to help the community during the army's occupation there. Thus, their names are listed twice on the display.
Each soldier or family member who died on the trip is noted with an asterisk.
The exhibit was an offering from the two stakes for the Aug. 3 commemoration at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., of the battalion's march. Recruited at Kanesville (now Council Bluffs), Iowa, the battalion marched initially to Fort Leavenworth to receive supplies, training and a uniform allowance. (See Aug. 10 Church News for a report of the Fort Leavenworth celebration.)
By its completion, the exhibit had grown in scale from what was initially contemplated.
"The budget was originally $350, but we went way over that," said Brother Ireland, director of public affairs for the Kansas City Missouri Stake. "This would have cost us somewhere around $4,500 if we had to pay for it, but with Mark's input and help from other people, it cost us $750 plus the wood we put in it. So we spent about $1,000."
Donors from the stake contributed to the project, as did the Kanesville Tabernacle and Visitors Center, where the exhibit is to be displayed in the near future. Before that, Brother Ireland said, it will be on display at the Church's visitors center in Independence, Mo.
The names on the exhibit are set against a background covering all six panels, an image of the battalion reproduced from a picture provided by the Church Historical Department, said Brother Welsh, who like Brother Ireland belongs to the Fleming Park Ward in the Kansas City stake. Brother Anderson is in the Blue Springs 2nd Ward in that stake.
In addition six art works depict events the battalion members experienced, including the farewell ball at Kanesville, the wild bull stampede and the arrival at the Pacific shore. These were provided by the Olathe stake, which had borrowed them from the Museum of Church History and Art. Initially the Olathe stake was to do its own exhibit, but the stakes decided to combine their efforts into one project.
The exhibit appears silk-screened, but that would have been too expensive, Brother Welsh said. Instead, a digital-output process was used involving apparatus "like a huge Xerox machine. It has toner for the four colors that the printer uses: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Each panel is laminated on the front to protect it from water, and then it is affixed to some plastic corregate. Steve Anderson and Dave Ireland built the framework on the back that holds the whole thing rigid."
Brother Welsh said that in researching the project, he was interested to note the number of children who were born during the march. "There were quite a few children born in Pueblo, Colo., and Company B had the first Anglo child to be born in San Diego. He was the captain's son, and his mother died shortly after the birth."