How to commemorate the Pioneer Sesquicentennial in your personal life

Personal participation in the sesquicentennial activities provides me with many thoughts concerning gratitude toward those great pioneer families. During the year, I will be involved in the following:

  • Taking advantage of family home evenings to learn more about the personal lives of pioneer families. From these early members, I learn the principles of devotion, sacrifice, obedience and consecration. In family home evening discussions and lessons throughout the year, I will follow those Saints through their journey.- Constructing a mini-handcart to be raced in competition on a Pinewood Derby Track later this year. All our ward Scout officers – I am the Scout committee chairman – have this challenge.
  • Building a replica handcart to be used in our ward Pioneer Day activity. We anticipate several families will participate in this project.

Involvement in such a worthwhile commemoration is truly a thrilling experience to me. Those who participate will receive lasting memories of the great pioneer families. May we feel a personal attachment to those who gave, to ensure the opportunity for us to receive the greater light. – LeRoy O. Anderson, Ardmore, Okla.


What we did:

Something in common

Our family has decided that the best way for us to commemorate the pioneer sesquicentennial is to set aside two family home evenings a month to read stories and discuss the trials that the early pioneers experienced. We are getting our information from the Church publications and Church history books.

As we read these stories, we came to realize that even though we don't share a direct link to those early pioneers we still have something in common with them. Being first generation LDS in our own family, we are pioneers also. This is something we have instilled in our children.

Another by-product of our studies is that we have learned that New Orleans was a port of entry for early Latter-day Saints emigrating from Europe. It gives us a sense of connection knowing that we are linked geographically to those people who came here and moved on to other places. We are grateful for this special opportunity. – The William Hazel family, Gretna, La.

Family heritage

To honor our pioneer heritage, our extended family produced and distributed a 1997 family calendar – a total of 40 calendars. Each month features a different photograph of the oldest photographs in our possession. On the calendar itself, we included the birth dates, marriage dates and death dates of our common-ancestor grandfather and grandmother, their descendants and spouses, and their pioneer ancestors. In any empty space on each month, we included a bit of history about those in the photographs. On the front of the calendar, we indicated the years that the calendar can be reused – 2003, 2014, 2025. On the back of the calendar, we included a simple genealogy chart to help family members see where those in the photographs fit in.

This calendar has been and will continue to be a great blessing in our family. Everyone in our family has learned something about our family history. As we are reminded daily of our pioneer ancestors and of the sacrifices they made for the gospel of Jesus Christ, we come to know and love them, and, we hope, to follow more faithfully in their footsteps. Individual family members, living and dead, are brought to mind as we look at the calendar daily, and our extended family is brought closer together.

In addition, every household in our extended family has a copy of the old photographs that previously had been in the possession of just three or four people. – Jo Ellen Ashworth, Salt Lake City, Utah

Pioneer journals

The first thing I did was read copies of our pioneer ancestors' journals. We recently moved to Farson, Wyo., which is located on the pioneer trail. Reading in pioneer journals, I learned about the experiences that took place on their trek at Pacific Springs, Simpson's Hollow, Lombard's Crossing and Fort Bridger. I was quite touched when I read that my third great-grandmother died and was buried along the trail. These things came to life for me because we have been to most of these places.

I've shared these experiences with my family and they are catching the "pioneer spirit." We are becoming involved in many ways with sesquicentennial activities in our area this summer, including participating in a trek. We have also done some decorating in our home with pioneer pictures, ceramics and the like, keeping the lives of our pioneer ancestors uppermost in our hearts. – Patricia Horsley, Farson, Wyo.

Walking the distance

I wanted to set a goal to walk the same distance the pioneers did from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake City. I knew this year would be perfect for this goal.

The pioneers walked approximately 1,070 miles in 10 weeks. It will take me a year to complete this same distance (averaging 21 miles per week). We are keeping track on a map of how far I have gone.

I am now two months into the year and realizing it will be a difficult goal to reach. I have learned it takes commitment, time and consistency to keep up with this yearlong goal.

I have had a lot of time to think while walking. Often, I think of the pioneers – especially when the weather is very cold, when my legs are tired, or when thinking of what I will do in August when I have our next child. How did these women (and others) do all that was required of them? How can I gain as much faith and determination as they had? These are things I will continue to think and learn about this year. – Martha Bodily, Madison Heights, Mich.

Visit museum

Since all of my lines (great-grandparents) came across the plains, I have been studying and writing their family histories. I've also acquired books on the Mormon trail to better understand what hardships and experiences they might have encountered. I then bought a computer program that allows one to play by entering the dates and family make-up of his or her pioneer wagon. I select the historical dates of my ancestors and the number in their party to relive the day-to-day travel experiences each of them had.

In addition, this summer I will take my children to Salt Lake City to the pioneer museum on State street. It houses my wife's great-great-grandfather William Jordan Flake's wagon that came across with the 1847 pioneers. – Lynn G. Hodge, Camarillo, Calif.


How to checklist:

1 Use family home evenings to learn about heritage; discuss pioneer trials, sacrifices.

2 Read pioneer journals; learn about trail history.

3 Do projects, like compiling family calendars, histories, walking distance of trail.

4 Be a pioneer, yourself; develop faith, determination.


Write to us:

March 22 "How to prepare spiritually and emotionally for death of loved one."

March 29 "How to place people above tasks."

April 5 "How to help children benefit from general conference."

April 19 "How to break the habit of being late."

April 26 "How to organize your finances and the paying of bills."

May 3 "How to feed a family on a limited budget."

  • Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to help young people show respect for authority in school," "How to unleash the personal impact of scripture study in your life."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: [email protected]. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.