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Pageant recounts faith of Tooele Valley settlers

The faith and determination of LDS colonizers and others who settled and built the Tooele Valley is reflected in a new pageant that premiered here Aug. 14-17.

The Benson Grist Mill Pageant is a musical drama with 150 performers and 50 production associates. It is named for the site at which it was presented, the historic grist mill built in 1854 under the direction of Elder Ezra T. Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve.Elder Benson was the great-grandfather of President Ezra Taft Benson. In a community project, the grist mill was restored and developed as a historic site. President Benson dedicated the restored gristmill on June 11, 1988.

The new pageant is based on research compiled by Maxine Grimm, Tooele 12th Ward, Tooele Utah Stake. She said much of the plot surrounds the Lee family, ancestors whom she has in common with President Harold B. Lee. From her compilation, a script was developed by Christie Steadman, Bill Borgogno, Melissa Swan and Yvonne Hiss.

Action, which involves live animals, surrounds the audience during the pageant and depicts the historic events such as the occasion when settlers in the valley, as well as in Salt Lake Valley to the east, prepared to abandon their settlements and burn their homes rather than submit to Johnstons' Army, sent to quell a supposed "Mormon rebellion."

The Gold Rush of 1849, and the experience of the Donner-Reed party that passed through Tooele Valley are also included in the pageant.

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