In 1847, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed "The Mormons") arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and settled. July 24 is a state holiday in Utah (Pioneer Day) and is celebrated annually with many Days of '47 events including a parade, marathon run, fireworks, etc. I have always loved stories of these stalwart people who sacrificed much for their beliefs. In honor of Pioneer Day this year, I thought I would honor a few of these fine individuals who through bloodline or marriage, have a treasured spot on my family tree.
Jefferson Hunt was a captain with the Mormon Battalion. As Mormons left Illinois in 1846 and journeyed through Iowa, the U.S. government asked men to enlist and travel south to participate in the Mexican-American war. Many men signed up to go despite the fact that the same U.S. government had not supported them while they lost property and were driven from their homes. Jefferson's family didn't want to be separated from him, so they went along. Several women accompanied the group and cooked and did washing for the company. It was an arduous journey from Iowa to San Diego, California. Jefferson Hunt was the captain of Company A, and two of his sons served under him. His son Marshall, at age 17, was one of the youngest members of the Mormon Battalion.
Charity Arms was born in Sutton, Vermont. She married Joshua Everts and together they moved from the US to Canada to homestead. She and Joshua became members for the LDS church and relocated to Illinois. Charity suffered many trials in her life, including losing many children and her husband, Joshua, who died in an accident in Illinois. She married John Thomas Prows. He became disaffected with the LDS church, and left her before her journey westward. Charity managed to assemble the supplies she would need to travel to Utah with young children, and made the journey in 1849. Charity married again, this time to William Lewis, a Welsh immigrant. They had two children, one of whom lived to adulthood. Later, she and William parted ways, and Charity settled in Oak City, Utah. From Canada to Oak City, and everywhere in between, Charity suffered many hardships, however she never wavered in her faith, and was devoted to her family. Her life story is one of courage in the face of many challenges.
Memorial for Charity Arms Everts in Oak City, Utah
Lastly, Daniel Wood was a captain of 50 in an early Mormon wagon train. He settled in Utah in an area now known as Woods Cross. He was born in 1800 in New York, and died at the age of 92 in Utah. He built buildings, organized musical groups, educated his children, and served in church assignments. He had a large family, and remained faithful to his religious beliefs. When he and his family were driven from their home in Missouri and were traveling to Illinois in horrible weather, Daniel sought a place for his family to take shelter. He inquired about renting a vacant house. The man he spoke to asked if he were a Mormon. Despite the danger of identifying himself with the LDS church in that moment, Daniel said yes, he was Mormon. He did not hesitate. The man allowed him to use the house because of his honesty.
I am grateful to have a wonderful heritage, and I celebrate my ancestors who traveled from England, Denmark, and Prussia so I could be here today. I am especially grateful to those who recorded their histories so their stories are preserved for me and my children.
Who is on your family tree?