Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pioneer Day

Pioneer Day is a Utah holiday commemorating the day in 1847 (July 24) when the first group of Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake valley in covered wagons and on horseback and Brigham Young (President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) declared that this was the right place for them to settle, build their homes and their temple and be safe from the religious persecution they had suffered in the east.
The Days of 47 Parade is one of the largest parades in the nation.

My mom moved to Salt Lake City with her sister, brother, and parents in June of1947. They had lived in Twin Falls, Idaho, then Elko, Nevada before my grandfather was transfered here to take a management and driver training position with the trucking company, P.I.E. (Pacific Intermountain Express). They heard about the new Sears store opening on 8th south and so they walked over there and watched the parade on July 24th. (They lived between 8th and 9th south on 4th East - I think it was 833 South in fact, if my memory serves me). My mom said, "we were astonished at how long and lavish the parade was. I was 12 years old and Betty [sister] was 15 at the time we moved." Pete would have been about five I think. Grandma's brother, Delbert had come to help them with the move and stayed a while. Since it was the Centennial year, it was the biggest and best celebration to date.

Note: I had some of my facts wrong - not sure where I got them - maybe said in jest when I was talking with my grandfather late in his life. Seems like it was my grandma who told me about the move. Anyway, good example of why we should get these things in writing. The memories of how the stories were told may not be accurate or convey the facts. Humor and time also affects it so..... write your personal history or be at the mercy of urban legend!
Eric Dowdle depiction of the parade. The blog title will take you to the official site for the festivities and more of this art.

I have Mormon pioneer ancestors I honor on this occasion.
  • Sarah Emily Wall (Willie Handcart Company), and her husband William Cowley, a member of the rescue party.
  • Ellen Bradshaw and her husband, William Fowler who wrote We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.
  • Paul Gourley (Martin Handcart Company) whose family inspired the sculpture in the library of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers building (he added some Scottish to my otherwise predominantly British and Danish roots). It depicts the time when they continued on their journey west after burying their small daughter along the trail. Sculpted by Patch and Jean Peterson.
  • Many more I am just beginning to become acquainted with.

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