Exhibit raises battalion awareness

Activities commemorating the 1847 arrival of the Mormon Battalion in California continue to occur throughout the state as wards and stakes pay tribute to these early pioneers.

For example, members of the Murrieta California Stake celebrated the battalion's march through the Temecula Valley, Jan. 25, 1847, by opening a monthlong exhibit at the county library. In addition, they held a pancake breakfast Jan. 25, which included burying a time capsule to be opened in 50 years.The exhibit, which opened Jan. 22 at the Riverside County Library, includes historic pictures, stories, journal entries, maps, trails, and lists of battalion members and local descendants.

"It is hoped that the exhibit will bring an awareness to the community of its historic part in the Mexican War," said Nina Johnson of the Murrieta 1st Ward, one of the contributors to the exhibit.

At the pancake breakfast held in the LDS meetinghouse in Temecula, 60 miles north of San Diego and 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Stake Pres. Roger Connors addressed those attending. "The footsteps of those faithful men of the Mormon Battalion lie close to this very building," he explained, emphasizing the significant role Temecula Valley held for the Mormon Battalion as they neared the end of their long march. The men camped near the site of the Temecula building.

"Great events happened here," Pres. Connors said. "It was here in our valley where they received word from Col. P. St. George Cooke that the war with Mexico was over, that the fort at Los Angeles was secured and they were to march on to San Diego."

After breakfast the time capsule was buried near a Mormon Battalion monument behind the meetinghouse. The monument had been dedicated July 28, 1996, in a ceremony which included a resolution presented by Donna Thompson, wife of Assemblymen Bruce Thompson.

Included in the capsule were testimonies of stake youth written at a recent youth conference, during which the young people hiked the battalion trail near Temecula. The capsule will not be opened until the 200th anniversary of the battalion's march.

The activities are not the first time members here have tried to make people in the Temecula Valley aware of the historic march of the Mormon Battalion. A musical, "A Distant Hill," was produced in the Temecula outdoor amphitheater two years in succession by the Murrieta stake. Excellent newspaper coverage and participation by many community leaders increased attendance and awareness.

And today, hanging in the lobby of the meetinghouse in Temecula is an oil painting by Ashley Hyllested of the Murrieta 1st Ward. The painting illustrates the battalion's encounter with the Luisane Indians in the Temecula Valley. The painting was presented to the stake last year in commemoration of the battalion's mustering in Iowa.